BetterExplained - Understanding Exponents

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BetterExplained - Understanding Exponents

© All Rights Reserved

- Arburnoth J - Philosophical Transaction
- Sample Papers _ Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF)
- Ch2 Algebra and Surdskjtfc
- Rph Multiplication
- Math Glossary 6-8_Japanese Corrected
- On Power Tower of Integers
- Indices
- Study Sheet for Math PreTest
- lesson 1 11
- first week of instruction
- Matlab Review
- Exponents Discovery
- Study Guide
- Ec9 Ex83 Torsion Double Skin
- Class 7 1
- 11 th chemistry
- math report term3
- auv-1
- Surds
- EB-08C60004A

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0^0 = 1?)

Were taught that exponents are repeated multiplication. This is a good introduction,

but it breaks down on 3^1.5 and the brain-twisting 0^0. How do you repeat zero zero

times and get 1 without melting your brain?

You cant, not while exponents are repeated multiplication. Today our mental model is

due for an upgrade.

BetterExplained

Viewing arithmetic as transformations ebook for clear

insights into key

math concepts.

Lets step back how do we learn arithmetic? Were taught that numbers are counts

of something (fingers), addition is combining counts (3 + 4 = 7) and multiplication is

repeated addition (2 times 3 = 2 + 2 + 2 = 6). Get the ebook

This interpretation works for nice round numbers like 2 and 10. Strange concepts like - About (Contact

1 and sqrt(2) dont work. Why? Kalid)

Learning shouldn't

Our model was incomplete. Numbers arent just a count; a better viewpoint is a hurt. Let's share the

position on a line. This position can be negative (-1), between other numbers insights that made

(sqrt(2)), or in another dimension (i). difficult ideas click.

Read more...

Arithmetic became a way to transform a number: Addition was sliding (+3 means slide

3 units to the right), and multiplication was scaling (times 3 means scale it up 3x).

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

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Let me introduce the Expand-o-tron 3000. How To Optimize

Your Site With GZIP

Compression

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and Combinations

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To Exponential

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Theorem

A Visual, Intuitive

Guide to Imaginary

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Demystifying the

Natural Logarithm

(ln)

Mental Math

Shortcuts

A Visual Guide to

Version Control

How To Optimize

Yes, this device looks like a shoddy microwave but instead of heating food, it grows Your Site With HTTP

numbers. Put a number in and a new one comes out. Heres how: Caching

Set the growth to the desired change after one second (2x, 3x, 10.3x) Business

Set the time to the number of seconds General

Push the button Guides

Math

And shazam! The bell rings and we pull out our shiny new number. Suppose we want Calculus

to change 1.0 into 9: Vector Calculus

Observations

Put 1.0 in the expand-o-tron Personal

Set the change for 3x growth, and the time for 2 seconds Development

Push the button Programming

Web

The number starts transforming as soon as we begin: We see 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and just

as finish the first second, were at 3.0. But it keeps going: 3.1, 3.5, 4.0, 6.0, 7.5. As

just as we finish the 2nd second were at 9.0. Behold our shiny new number!

or

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

For example, 3^2 = 9/1. The base is the amount to grow each unit (3x), and the

exponent is the amount of time (2). A formula like 2^n means Use the expand-o-tron

at 2x growth for n seconds.

single unit. If we want to see what would happen if we started with 3.0 in the

expand-o-tron, we just scale up the final result. For example:

Start with 3 and double 3 times means 3 * 2^3 = 3 * 2 * 2 * 2 = 24

Whenever you see an plain exponent by itself (like 2^3), were starting with 1.0.

When multiplying, we can just state the final scaling factor. Want it 8 times larger?

Multiply by 8. Done.

Expand-o-tron: Ok, stick it in.

You: How big will it get?

Expand-o-tron: Gee, I dunno. Lets find out

You: Find out? I was hoping youd kn-

Expand-o-tron: Shh!!! Its growing! Its growing!

You:

Expand-o-tron: Its done! My masterpiece is alive!

You: Can I go now?

The expand-o-tron is indirect. Just looking at it, youre not sure what itll do: What

does 3^10 mean to you? How does it make you feel? Instead of a nice tidy scaling

factor, exponents want us to feel, relive, even smell the growing process. Whatever

you end with is your scaling factor.

It sounds roundabout and annoying. You know why? Most things in nature dont

know where theyll end up!

Do you think bacteria plans on doubling every 14 hours? No it just eats the moldy

bread you forgot about in the fridge as fast as it can, and as it gets more it starts

growing even faster. To predict the behavior, we use how fast theyre growing

(current rate) and how long theyll be changing (time) to figure out their final value.

The answer has to be worked out exponents are a way of saying Begin with these

conditions, start changing, and see where you end up. The expand-o-tron (or our

calculator) does the work by crunching the numbers to get the final scaling factor. But

someone has to do it.

Lets see if the expand-o-tron can help us understand exponents. First up: what does

at 2^1.5 mean?

Its confusing when we think of repeated multiplication. But the expand-o-tron makes

it simple: 1.5 is just the amount of time in the machine.

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

2^2 means 2 seconds in the machine (4x growth)

2^1.5 means 1.5 seconds in the machine, so somewhere between 2x and 4x growth

(more later). The idea of repeated counting had us stuck.

Multiplying exponents

What if we want to two growth cycles back-to-back? Lets say we use the machine for

2 seconds, and then use it for 3 seconds at the exact same power:

Think about your regular microwave isnt this the same as one continuous cycle of 5

seconds? It sure is. As long as the power setting (base) stayed the same, we can just

add the time:

Again, the expand-o-tron gives us a scaling factor to change our number. To get the

total effect from two consecutive uses, we just multiply the scaling factors together.

Square roots

Lets keep going. Lets say were at power level a and grow for 3 seconds:

Not too bad. Now what would growing for half that time look like? Itd be 1.5 seconds:

Looking at this equation, we see partial growth is the square root of full growth! If

we divide the time in half we get the square root scaling factor. And if we divide the

time in thirds?

And we get the cube root! For me, this is an intuitive reason why dividing the

exponents gives roots: we split the time into equal amounts, so each partial growth

period must have the same effect. If three identical effects are multiplied together, it

means theyre each a cube root.

Negative exponents

Now were on a roll what does a negative exponent mean? Negative seconds means

going back in time! If going forward grows by a scaling factor, going backwards should

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

shrink by it.

The sentence means 1 second ago, we were at half our current amount (1/2^1). In

fact, this is a neat part of any exponential graph, like 2^x:

Pick a point like 3.5 seconds (2^3.5 = 11.3). One second in the future well be at

double our current amount (2^4.5 = 22.5). One second ago we were at half our

amount (2^2.5 = 5.65).

This works for any number! Wherever 1 million is, we were at 500,000 one second

before it. Try it below:

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

Now lets try the tricky stuff: what does 3^0 mean? Well, we set the machine for 3x

growth, and use it for zero seconds . Zero seconds means we dont even use the

machine!

Our new and old values are the same (new = old), so the scaling factor is 1. Using 0

as the time (power) means theres no change at all. The scaling factor is always 1.

How do we interpret 0^x? Well, our growth amount is 0x after a second, the

expand-o-tron obliterates the number and turns it to zero. But if weve obliterated the

number after 1 second, it really means any amount of time will destroy the number:

At last, the dreaded 0^0. What does it mean?

usage means new = old, and the scaling factor is 1. 0^0 = 1 * 0^0 = 1 * 1 = 1 it

doesnt change our original number. Mystery solved!

(For the math geeks: Defining 0^0 as 1 makes many theorems work smoothly. In

reality, 0^0 depends on the scenario (continuous or discrete) and is under debate.

The microwave analogy isnt about rigor it helps me see why it could be 1, in a way

that repeated counting does not.)

c)

Repeated exponents are tricky. What does

exponent thing once, and do it again. Lets dissect it:

First, I want to grow by doubling each second: do that for 3 seconds (2^3)

Then, whatever my number is (8x), I want to grow by that new amount for 4

seconds (8^4)

The first exponent (^3) just knows to take 2 and grow it by itself 3 times. The next

exponent (^4) just knows to take the previous amount (8) and grow it by itself 4

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

times. Each time unit in Phase II is the same as repeating all of Phase I:

This is where the repeated counting interpretation helps get our bearings. But then we

bring out the expand-o-tron: we grow for 3 seconds in Phase I, and redo that for 4

more seconds. It works for fractional powers for example,

means Grow for 3.1 seconds, and use that new growth rate for 4.2 seconds. We can

smush together the time (3.1 4.2) like this:

(2^1)^x means Grow at 2 for 1 second, and do that growth for x more

seconds.

7 = (7^0.5)^2 means We can jump to 7 all at once. Or, we can plan on

growing to 7 but only use half the time (sqrt(7)). But we can do that process for

2 seconds, which gives us the full amount (sqrt(7) squared = 7).

Were like kids learning that 3 times 7 = 7 times 3. (Or that a% of b = b% of a its

true!).

The expand-o-tron is a bit strange: numbers start growing the instant theyre inside,

but we specify the desired growth at the end of each second.

We say we want 2x growth at the end of the first second. But how do we know what

rate to start off with? How fast should we be growing at 0.5 seconds? It cant be the

full amount, or else well overshoot our goal as our interest compounds.

Heres the key: Growth curves written like 2^x are from the observers

viewpoint, not the grower.

The value 2 is measured at the end of the interval and we work backwards to create

the exponent. This is convenient for us, but not the growing quantity bacteria,

radioactive elements and money dont care about lining up with our ending intervals!

No, these critters know their current, instantaneous growth rate, and dont try to line

it up with our boundaries. Its just like understanding radians vs. degrees radians

are natural because they are measured from the movers viewpoint.

To get into the growers viewpoint, we use the magical number e. Theres much more

to say, but we can convert any observer-focused formula like 2^x into a grower-

focused one:

In this case, ln(2) = .693 = 69.3% is the instantaneous growth rate needed to look

like 2^x to an observer. When you enter 2x growth at the end of each period, the

expand-o-tron knows to grow the number at a rate of 69.3%.

Understanding Exponents (Why does 0^0 = 1?) | BetterExplained

Well save these details for another day just remember the difference between the

growers instantaneous growth rate (which the bacteria controls) and the observers

chart thats measured at the end of each interval. Underneath it all, every exponential

curve is a scaled version of e^x:

Does the expand-o-tron exist? Do numbers really gather up in a line? Nope theyre

ways of looking at the world.

The expand-o-tron removes the mental hiccups when seeing 2^1.5 or even 0^0: its

just 0x growth for 0 seconds, which doesnt change the number. Everything from slide

rules to Eulers formula begins to click once we recognize the core theme of growth

even beasts like i^i can be tamed.

Friends dont let friends think of exponents as repeated multiplication. Happy math.

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