# Basic Description

Logarithms are considered the inverse or opposite operations to exponents, just as subtraction is the inverse to to addition or square rooting is the inverse to squaring.

For example, suppose we have the exponential expression $2^3$ , which we know will equal 8. Now, suppose we want to do the inverse operation and go from the value 8 to the exponent 3 with a base of 2. We could do the inverse operation by using logarithms and write $log_{2}(8) = 3$ , which is read "logarithm of 8 base 2 is equal to 3".

In order words, if we have an exponential equation: $base^x = n\,$
we can write an equivalent logarithmic equation: $log_{base}(n) = x\,$

What about exponential equations in the form $10^x = 932$? It might seem harder to solve for x in this case because there is no that will give us the value of 932 with a base of 10. However, if we simply rewrite the equation as an logarithmic equation $x = log_{10}(932)$ , we can find quite easily with a calculator that x is about 2.969.

To look at some more examples of switching between exponential and logarithmic equations:

Exponential Equation Logarithmic Equation
$7^3 = 343 \,$
$6 = log_{3}(729)\,$
$4 = log_{10}(10000)\,$
$e^7 \approx 1096.6 \,$
$7 \approx log_{e}(1096.6)\,$
$3.5 \approx log_{6}(529.1)\,$
$22^x = 57643 \,$

# A More Mathematical Description

## Definition of Logarithms

$y = log_a(x)\,$ if and only if $x = a^y\,$, where b > 1 and x > 0

In words: The logarithm of a value at a given base is the power (exponent) that the base must be raised to produce the value.

## Bases

As seen from the definition above, the base of a logarithm affects how a logarithm is evaluated. Bases can be any positive number except for 1, and the logarithms of a value can be found at different bases using a change of base formula.

### Common Bases

There are three main bases that are most frequently used:

Base Exponential Representation Logarithmic Representation Notes Example
Base 10 $y = 10^x\,$ $x = log_{10}(y)\,$ can be written simply as $log(x)\,$

also called Common Logarithms

$100 = 10^x\,$

$x = log(100)\,$

where x = 2
Base 2 $y = 2^x\,$ $x = log_2(y)\,$ basis for the Binary System $16 = 2^x\,$

$x = log_{2}(16)\,$

where x = 4
Base $y = e^x\,$ $x = log_{e}(y)\,$ can be written simply as $ln(y)\,$

also called Natural Logarithms

where $ln(e) = 1\,$
$25 = e^x\,$

$x = ln(25)\,$

where $x \approx 3.22$

### Changing Bases

To go from a logarithm of base k to a logarithm of base a, we use the formula:

$log_a(x) = \frac{log_k(x)}{log_k(a)}\,$

## Graphing a Logarithmic Function

Graph of a logarithmic function
Graph of a three common logarithmic functions

The first image on the left is a graph of a basic logarithmic function: y = log(x). A logarithmic function, such as the one used to create the featured image, takes the basic form $y = log_b(x)$, where b is fixed while y and x are variables.

As you can see from the graph, there is an vertical at x = 0, so that logarithmic functions are undefined when x is less than or equal to 0. However, non-real logarithms for negative x values can be found using complex logarithms with complex numbers.

The second image compares the graphical representations of the most common logarithmic functions: $y = log_{10}(x)$, $y = log_2(x)$, and $y = log_e(x)$.

## Basic Properties of Logarithms

Logarithms possess various properties and identities including the following:

Identities
Multiplication $log(x * y) = log(x) + log(y) \,$
Division $log\left(\frac{x}{y}\right) = log(x) - log(y) \,$
Exponentiation $log(x^n) = nlog(x)\,$
Integration $\int log(x) = xlog(x) - x + constant\,$
Differentiation $\frac{d}{dx}(log(x)) = \frac{1}{x} \,$
Other properties
$log(1) = 0\,$
$log(0) = - \infty\,$
$log_a(a^x) = x\,$
$a^{log_a(x)} = x \,$
$log_a(b) = \frac{1}{log_b(a)}\,$