logarithm

logarithm (lŏgˈərĭħəm) [key] [Gr., = relation number], number associated with a positive number, being the power to which a third number, called the base, must be raised in order to obtain the given positive number. For example, the logarithm of 100 to the base 10 is 2, written log10 100 = 2, since 102 = 100. Logarithms of positive numbers using the number 10 as the base are called common logarithms; those using the number e e (see separate article) as the base are called natural logarithms or Napierian logarithms (for John Napier). The natural logarithm of a number x is denoted by ln x or simply log x. Since logarithms are exponents, they satisfy all the usual rules of exponents. Consequently, tedious calculations such as multiplications and divisions can be replaced by the simpler processes of adding or subtracting the corresponding logarithms. Logarithmic tables are generally used for this purpose.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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