This lesson is part of a series of lessons for the quantitative reasoning section of the GRE revised General Test. In this lesson, we will learn about
Exponents are used to denote the repeated multiplication of a number by itself.
The following are some rules of exponents. Scroll down the page for more examples and solutions.
For example, 24 = 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 = 16
In the expression, 24, 2 is called the base, 4 is called the exponent, and we read the expression as “2 to the fourth power.”
When the exponent is 2, we call the process squaring.
52 = 25, is read as "5 squared is 25".
62 = 36, is read as "6 squared is 36".
When negative numbers are raised to powers, the result may be positive or negative. A negative number raised to an even power is always positive, and a negative number raised to an odd power is always negative.
(−3)4 = −3 × −3 × −3 × −3 = 81
(−3)3= −3 × −3 × −3 = −27
Take note of the parenthesis: (−3)2 = 9, but −32 = −9
Exponents can also be negative or zero; such exponents are defined as follows.
Take note that
How to work with zero and negative exponents?
A square root of a nonnegative number n is a number r such that r2 = n.
For example, 5 is a square root of 25 because 52 = 25.
Another square root of 25 is −5 because (−5)2 is also equals to 25.
The symbol used for square root is . (The symbol is also called the radical sign).
Every positive number a has two square roots: √a, which is positive, and -√a, which is negative.
√16 = 4 and −√16 = −4
The only square root of 0 is 0. Square roots of negative numbers are not defined in the real number system.
Perfect squares and square roots
Some numbers are called perfect squares. It is important we can recognize perfect square when working with square roots.
12 = 1
22 = 4
32 = 9
42 = 16
52 = 25
62 = 36
72 = 49
82 = 64
92 = 81
102 = 100
Here are some important rules regarding operations with square roots, where x > 0 and y > 0
Product Rule & Simplifying Square Roots
3√2 ˙ 3√4
Quotient Rule & Simplifying Square Roots
How to use the rules regarding operations with square roots?
A square root is a root of order 2. Higher-order roots of a positive number n are defined similarly.
The cube root is a root of order 3.
8 has one cube root. The cube root of 8 is 2 because 23 = 8.
−8 has one cube root. The cube root of −8 is −2 because (−2)3 = −8
The fourth root is a root of order 4.
8 has two fourth roots. because 24 = 16 and (−2)4 = 16
These nth roots obey rules similar to the square root.
There are some notable differences between odd order roots and even-order roots (in the real number system):
What are radicals and how to simplify perfect square, cube, and nth roots?
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