Exponential and Logarithmic Functions

# Exponential and Logarithmic Equations

### Learning Objectives

In this section, you will:

• Use like bases to solve exponential equations.
• Use logarithms to solve exponential equations.
• Use the definition of a logarithm to solve logarithmic equations.
• Use the one-to-one property of logarithms to solve logarithmic equations.
• Solve applied problems involving exponential and logarithmic equations.

In 1859, an Australian landowner named Thomas Austin released 24 rabbits into the wild for hunting. Because Australia had few predators and ample food, the rabbit population exploded. In fewer than ten years, the rabbit population numbered in the millions.

Uncontrolled population growth, as in the wild rabbits in Australia, can be modeled with exponential functions. Equations resulting from those exponential functions can be solved to analyze and make predictions about exponential growth. In this section, we will learn techniques for solving exponential functions.

### Using Like Bases to Solve Exponential Equations

The first technique involves two functions with like bases. Recall that the one-to-one property of exponential functions tells us that, for any real numbers and where${b}^{S}={b}^{T}\,$if and only if

In other words, when an exponential equation has the same base on each side, the exponents must be equal. This also applies when the exponents are algebraic expressions. Therefore, we can solve many exponential equations by using the rules of exponents to rewrite each side as a power with the same base. Then, we use the fact that exponential functions are one-to-one to set the exponents equal to one another, and solve for the unknown.

For example, consider the equationTo solve for we use the division property of exponents to rewrite the right side so that both sides have the common base,Then we apply the one-to-one property of exponents by setting the exponents equal to one another and solving for

### Using the One-to-One Property of Exponential Functions to Solve Exponential Equations

For any algebraic expressions and any positive real number

### How To

Given an exponential equation with the form where and are algebraic expressions with an unknown, solve for the unknown.

1. Use the rules of exponents to simplify, if necessary, so that the resulting equation has the form
2. Use the one-to-one property to set the exponents equal.
3. Solve the resulting equation, for the unknown.

Solve

### Try It

Solve

#### Rewriting Equations So All Powers Have the Same Base

Sometimes the common base for an exponential equation is not explicitly shown. In these cases, we simply rewrite the terms in the equation as powers with a common base, and solve using the one-to-one property.

For example, consider the equationWe can rewrite both sides of this equation as a power ofThen we apply the rules of exponents, along with the one-to-one property, to solve for

### How To

Given an exponential equation with unlike bases, use the one-to-one property to solve it.

1. Rewrite each side in the equation as a power with a common base.
2. Use the rules of exponents to simplify, if necessary, so that the resulting equation has the form
3. Use the one-to-one property to set the exponents equal.
4. Solve the resulting equation, for the unknown.

Solve

Solve

Solve

### Try It

Solve

Do all exponential equations have a solution? If not, how can we tell if there is a solution during the problem-solving process?

No. Recall that the range of an exponential function is always positive. While solving the equation, we may obtain an expression that is undefined.

### Solving an Equation with Positive and Negative Powers

Solve

This equation has no solution. There is no real value ofthat will make the equation a true statement because any power of a positive number is positive.

#### Analysis

(Figure) shows that the two graphs do not cross so the left side is never equal to the right side. Thus the equation has no solution.

### Try It

Solve

The equation has no solution.

### Solving Exponential Equations Using Logarithms

Sometimes the terms of an exponential equation cannot be rewritten with a common base. In these cases, we solve by taking the logarithm of each side. Recall, sinceis equivalent to we may apply logarithms with the same base on both sides of an exponential equation.

### How To

Given an exponential equation in which a common base cannot be found, solve for the unknown.

1. Apply the logarithm of both sides of the equation.
• If one of the terms in the equation has base 10, use the common logarithm.
• If none of the terms in the equation has base 10, use the natural logarithm.
2. Use the rules of logarithms to solve for the unknown.

Solve

### Try It

Solve

Is there any way to solve

Yes. The solution is

#### Equations Containing e

One common type of exponential equations are those with baseThis constant occurs again and again in nature, in mathematics, in science, in engineering, and in finance. When we have an equation with a baseon either side, we can use the natural logarithm to solve it.

### How To

Given an equation of the form solve for

1. Divide both sides of the equation by
2. Apply the natural logarithm of both sides of the equation.
3. Divide both sides of the equation by

### Solve an Equation of the Form y = Aekt

Solve

#### Analysis

Using laws of logs, we can also write this answer in the formIf we want a decimal approximation of the answer, we use a calculator.

### Try It

Solve

or

Does every equation of the formhave a solution?

No. There is a solution whenand whenandare either both 0 or neither 0, and they have the same sign. An example of an equation with this form that has no solution is

Solve

### Try It

Solve

#### Extraneous Solutions

Sometimes the methods used to solve an equation introduce an extraneous solution, which is a solution that is correct algebraically but does not satisfy the conditions of the original equation. One such situation arises in solving when the logarithm is taken on both sides of the equation. In such cases, remember that the argument of the logarithm must be positive. If the number we are evaluating in a logarithm function is negative, there is no output.

### Solving Exponential Functions in Quadratic Form

Solve

#### Analysis

When we plan to use factoring to solve a problem, we always get zero on one side of the equation, because zero has the unique property that when a product is zero, one or both of the factors must be zero. We reject the equationbecause a positive number never equals a negative number. The solution is not a real number, and in the real number system this solution is rejected as an extraneous solution.

### Try It

Solve

Does every logarithmic equation have a solution?

No. Keep in mind that we can only apply the logarithm to a positive number. Always check for extraneous solutions.

### Using the Definition of a Logarithm to Solve Logarithmic Equations

We have already seen that every logarithmic equationis equivalent to the exponential equationWe can use this fact, along with the rules of logarithms, to solve logarithmic equations where the argument is an algebraic expression.

For example, consider the equationTo solve this equation, we can use rules of logarithms to rewrite the left side in compact form and then apply the definition of logs to solve for

### Using the Definition of a Logarithm to Solve Logarithmic Equations

For any algebraic expressionand real numbersandwhere

Solve

Solve

Solve

Solve

### Using a Graph to Understand the Solution to a Logarithmic Equation

Solve

(Figure) represents the graph of the equation. On the graph, the x-coordinate of the point at which the two graphs intersect is close to 20. In other wordsA calculator gives a better approximation:

### Try It

Use a graphing calculator to estimate the approximate solution to the logarithmic equationto 2 decimal places.

### Using the One-to-One Property of Logarithms to Solve Logarithmic Equations

As with exponential equations, we can use the one-to-one property to solve logarithmic equations. The one-to-one property of logarithmic functions tells us that, for any real numbers and any positive real number where

For example,

So, ifthen we can solve forand we getTo check, we can substituteinto the original equation:In other words, when a logarithmic equation has the same base on each side, the arguments must be equal. This also applies when the arguments are algebraic expressions. Therefore, when given an equation with logs of the same base on each side, we can use rules of logarithms to rewrite each side as a single logarithm. Then we use the fact that logarithmic functions are one-to-one to set the arguments equal to one another and solve for the unknown.

For example, consider the equationTo solve this equation, we can use the rules of logarithms to rewrite the left side as a single logarithm, and then apply the one-to-one property to solve for

To check the result, substituteinto

### Using the One-to-One Property of Logarithms to Solve Logarithmic Equations

For any algebraic expressionsandand any positive real number where

Note, when solving an equation involving logarithms, always check to see if the answer is correct or if it is an extraneous solution.

### How To

Given an equation containing logarithms, solve it using the one-to-one property.

1. Use the rules of logarithms to combine like terms, if necessary, so that the resulting equation has the form
2. Use the one-to-one property to set the arguments equal.
3. Solve the resulting equation, for the unknown.

### Solving an Equation Using the One-to-One Property of Logarithms

Solve

#### Analysis

There are two solutions: or The solution is negative, but it checks when substituted into the original equation because the argument of the logarithm functions is still positive.

Solve

or

### Solving Applied Problems Using Exponential and Logarithmic Equations

In previous sections, we learned the properties and rules for both exponential and logarithmic functions. We have seen that any exponential function can be written as a logarithmic function and vice versa. We have used exponents to solve logarithmic equations and logarithms to solve exponential equations. We are now ready to combine our skills to solve equations that model real-world situations, whether the unknown is in an exponent or in the argument of a logarithm.

One such application is in science, in calculating the time it takes for half of the unstable material in a sample of a radioactive substance to decay, called its half-life. (Figure) lists the half-life for several of the more common radioactive substances.

Substance Use Half-life
gallium-67 nuclear medicine 80 hours
cobalt-60 manufacturing 5.3 years
technetium-99m nuclear medicine 6 hours
americium-241 construction 432 years
carbon-14 archeological dating 5,715 years
uranium-235 atomic power 703,800,000 years

We can see how widely the half-lives for these substances vary. Knowing the half-life of a substance allows us to calculate the amount remaining after a specified time. We can use the formula for radioactive decay:

where

• is the amount initially present
• is the half-life of the substance
• is the time period over which the substance is studied
• is the amount of the substance present after time

### Using the Formula for Radioactive Decay to Find the Quantity of a Substance

How long will it take for ten percent of a 1000-gram sample of uranium-235 to decay?

*** QuickLaTeX cannot compile formula:
\begin{array}{ll}\text{ }y=\text{1000}e\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}{\text{703,800,000}}t\hfill & \hfill \\ \text{ }900=1000{e}^{\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}{\text{703,800,000}}t}\hfill & \text{After 10% decays, 900 grams are left}.\hfill \\ \text{ }0.9={e}^{\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}{\text{703,800,000}}t}\hfill & \text{Divide by 1000}.\hfill \\ \mathrm{ln}\left(0.9\right)=\mathrm{ln}\left({e}^{\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}{\text{703,800,000}}t}\right)\hfill & \text{Take ln of both sides}.\hfill \\ \mathrm{ln}\left(0.9\right)=\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}{\text{703,800,000}}t\hfill & \text{ln}\left({e}^{M}\right)=M\hfill \\ \text{ }\,\text{ }t=\text{703,800,000}×\frac{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.9\right)}{\mathrm{ln}\left(0.5\right)}\text{years}\begin{array}{cccc}& & & \end{array}\hfill & \text{Solve for }t.\hfill \\ \text{ }\,\text{ }t\approx \text{106,979,777 years}\hfill & \hfill \end{array}

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#### Analysis

Ten percent of 1000 grams is 100 grams. If 100 grams decay, the amount of uranium-235 remaining is 900 grams.

### Try It

How long will it take before twenty percent of our 1000-gram sample of uranium-235 has decayed?

Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with exponential and logarithmic equations.

### Key Equations

 One-to-one property for exponential functions For any algebraic expressionsandand any positive real numberwhere Definition of a logarithm For any algebraic expression S and positive real numbersandwhere One-to-one property for logarithmic functions For any algebraic expressions S and T and any positive real numberwhere

### Key Concepts

• We can solve many exponential equations by using the rules of exponents to rewrite each side as a power with the same base. Then we use the fact that exponential functions are one-to-one to set the exponents equal to one another and solve for the unknown.
• When we are given an exponential equation where the bases are explicitly shown as being equal, set the exponents equal to one another and solve for the unknown. See (Figure).
• When we are given an exponential equation where the bases are not explicitly shown as being equal, rewrite each side of the equation as powers of the same base, then set the exponents equal to one another and solve for the unknown. See (Figure), (Figure), and (Figure).
• When an exponential equation cannot be rewritten with a common base, solve by taking the logarithm of each side. See (Figure).
• We can solve exponential equations with baseby applying the natural logarithm of both sides because exponential and logarithmic functions are inverses of each other. See (Figure) and (Figure).
• After solving an exponential equation, check each solution in the original equation to find and eliminate any extraneous solutions. See (Figure).
• When given an equation of the formwhereis an algebraic expression, we can use the definition of a logarithm to rewrite the equation as the equivalent exponential equationand solve for the unknown. See (Figure) and (Figure).
• We can also use graphing to solve equations with the formWe graph both equationsandon the same coordinate plane and identify the solution as the x-value of the intersecting point. See (Figure).
• When given an equation of the formwhereandare algebraic expressions, we can use the one-to-one property of logarithms to solve the equationfor the unknown. See (Figure).
• Combining the skills learned in this and previous sections, we can solve equations that model real world situations, whether the unknown is in an exponent or in the argument of a logarithm. See (Figure).

### Section Exercises

#### Verbal

How can an exponential equation be solved?

Determine first if the equation can be rewritten so that each side uses the same base. If so, the exponents can be set equal to each other. If the equation cannot be rewritten so that each side uses the same base, then apply the logarithm to each side and use properties of logarithms to solve.

When does an extraneous solution occur? How can an extraneous solution be recognized?

When can the one-to-one property of logarithms be used to solve an equation? When can it not be used?

The one-to-one property can be used if both sides of the equation can be rewritten as a single logarithm with the same base. If so, the arguments can be set equal to each other, and the resulting equation can be solved algebraically. The one-to-one property cannot be used when each side of the equation cannot be rewritten as a single logarithm with the same base.

#### Algebraic

For the following exercises, use like bases to solve the exponential equation.

For the following exercises, use logarithms to solve.

No solution

no solution

For the following exercises, use the definition of a logarithm to rewrite the equation as an exponential equation.

For the following exercises, use the definition of a logarithm to solve the equation.

For the following exercises, use the one-to-one property of logarithms to solve.

No solution

No solution

For the following exercises, solve each equation for

#### Graphical

For the following exercises, solve the equation forif there is a solution. Then graph both sides of the equation, and observe the point of intersection (if it exists) to verify the solution.

No solution

For the following exercises, solve for the indicated value, and graph the situation showing the solution point.

An account with an initial deposit ofearnsannual interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 20 years?

The formula for measuring sound intensity in decibelsis defined by the equationwhereis the intensity of the sound in watts per square meter andis the lowest level of sound that the average person can hear. How many decibels are emitted from a jet plane with a sound intensity ofwatts per square meter?

The population of a small town is modeled by the equationwhereis measured in years. In approximately how many years will the town’s population reach

#### Technology

For the following exercises, solve each equation by rewriting the exponential expression using the indicated logarithm. Then use a calculator to approximateto 3 decimal places.

using the common log.

using the natural log

using the common log

using the common log

using the natural log

For the following exercises, use a calculator to solve the equation. Unless indicated otherwise, round all answers to the nearest ten-thousandth.

Atmospheric pressurein pounds per square inch is represented by the formula where is the number of miles above sea level. To the nearest foot, how high is the peak of a mountain with an atmospheric pressure ofpounds per square inch? (Hint: there are 5280 feet in a mile)

The magnitude M of an earthquake is represented by the equationwhereis the amount of energy released by the earthquake in joules andis the assigned minimal measure released by an earthquake. To the nearest hundredth, what would the magnitude be of an earthquake releasingjoules of energy?

#### Extensions

Use the definition of a logarithm along with the one-to-one property of logarithms to prove that

Recall the formula for continually compounding interest,Use the definition of a logarithm along with properties of logarithms to solve the formula for timesuch thatis equal to a single logarithm.

Recall the compound interest formulaUse the definition of a logarithm along with properties of logarithms to solve the formula for time

Newton’s Law of Cooling states that the temperatureof an object at any time t can be described by the equation whereis the temperature of the surrounding environment,is the initial temperature of the object, andis the cooling rate. Use the definition of a logarithm along with properties of logarithms to solve the formula for timesuch thatis equal to a single logarithm.