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Mathematics for science and technology
Mathematics for science and technology

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1 Powers

In mathematics, you often need to find a shorthand way of representing information or data. Nowhere is this need more obvious than when you wish to represent something like the product of 2 multiplied by itself 2, 6, 10, 15 or even 20 times.

Instead of writing 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 2, we write 26. This is read (and said) as ‘2 to the power 6’; 6 is the index or the power. In general, this means that

a super n equals a multiplication a multiplication a multiplication a full stop full stop full stop full stop full stop full stop to n postfix times factors

where n is called the index, or the power, of a. Both a and n can be either positive or negative numbers; a−n represents one divided by a super n.

So, 10 super negative one equals one divided by 10 and 10 super negative two equals one divided by left parenthesis 10 multiplication 10 right parenthesis.

From this simple definition, you can now go on to look at power notation, or index notation as it is often called, in more detail.