Logarithmic Functions


Let a > 0, a ≠ 1. Then  logax is the number to which you raise a to get x.

Logarithms are in essence exponents. Their domains are powers of the base and
their ranges are the exponents needed to produce those particular powers.

Example: Demonstrate that log1016 = 2 .

Here the base is 4 and x = 16. To what number do you have to raise 4
in order to get 16? Answer: 2, so log1016 = 2 .

Example: Show that log1010,000 = 4 .

Here the base is 10, and x = 10,000. What number do you have to raise
10 to, in order to get 10,000 (4 zeros )? Answer: 4, so log1010,000 = 4.

Example: log10.001 = ?

Here the base is 10, and x = .001 . Write .001 as a power of 10. Since
.001 = 10-3 ,log10.001 = -3

The function log10 x is known as the common logarithm. Sometimes
you will see the expression log x .


Let a > 0, a ≠ 1 . Then loga x and ax are inverse to each other.

This theorem is too difficult to prove here. However, if you let f (x) = ax and
you can show the following.

a) What does this mean? It is a, raised to the
number to which you raise a to get x. So it equals x, that is


So we haven’t completely proved this theorem, but you can see that loga x and
ax undo each other.

Domain of f f (x) = ax Range of f
Range of g Domain of g

Graphs of Logarithmic Functions:
Knowing that loga xand ax are inverses allows you immediately to graph
loga x If you wish to graph the function you need only graph the
g(x) = 2x , and flip it around the line y = x

Solving Exponential Equations

We are now able to solve exponential equations by “getting at” the
exponent of a term .

Example: Solve for x: 2x = 3

Since one can’t write 3 as a power of 2, this rather simple problem can’t be
solved without logarithms. But now, knowing that is the inverse of 2x
one simply “ Logs both sides.”

You see that logarithms isolate the exponent .

Example: Solve of x:

First log both sides:

And now take the square root of both sides so that

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