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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.
Seven rabbits in front of a brick building.
Wild rabbits in Australia. The rabbit population grew so quickly in Australia that the event became known as the “rabbit plague.” (credit: Richard Taylor, Flickr)

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 b , S , and T , where b > 0 ,   b 1 , b S = b T if and only if S = T .

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 equation 3 4 x 7 = 3 2 x 3 . To solve for x , we use the division property of exponents to rewrite the right side so that both sides have the common base, 3. Then we apply the one-to-one property of exponents by setting the exponents equal to one another and solving for x :

3 4 x 7 = 3 2 x 3 3 4 x 7 = 3 2 x 3 1 Rewrite 3 as 3 1 . 3 4 x 7 = 3 2 x 1 Use the division property of exponents . 4 x 7 = 2 x 1   Apply the one-to-one property of exponents . 2 x = 6 Subtract 2 x  and add 7 to both sides . x = 3 Divide by 3 .

Using the one-to-one property of exponential functions to solve exponential equations

For any algebraic expressions S  and  T , and any positive real number b 1 ,

b S = b T if and only if S = T

Given an exponential equation with the form b S = b T , where S and T 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 b S = b T .
  2. Use the one-to-one property to set the exponents equal.
  3. Solve the resulting equation, S = T , for the unknown.

Solving an exponential equation with a common base

Solve 2 x 1 = 2 2 x 4 .

  2 x 1 = 2 2 x 4 The common base is   2.      x 1 = 2 x 4 By the one-to-one property the exponents must be equal .           x = 3 Solve for  x .
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Solve 5 2 x = 5 3 x + 2 .

x = 2

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Questions & Answers

how to understand calculus?
Jenica Reply
Hey I am new to precalculus, and wanted clarification please on what sine is as I am floored by the terms in this app? I don't mean to sound stupid but I have only completed up to college algebra.
rachel Reply
I don't know if you are looking for a deeper answer or not, but the sine of an angle in a right triangle is the length of the opposite side to the angle in question divided by the length of the hypotenuse of said triangle.
Marco
can you give me sir tips to quickly understand precalculus. Im new too in that topic. Thanks
Jenica
if you remember sine, cosine, and tangent from geometry, all the relationships are the same but they use x y and r instead (x is adjacent, y is opposite, and r is hypotenuse).
Natalie
the standard equation of the ellipse that has vertices (0,-4)&(0,4) and foci (0, -15)&(0,15) it's standard equation is x^2 + y^2/16 =1 tell my why is it only x^2? why is there no a^2?
Reena Reply
what is foci?
Reena Reply
This term is plural for a focus, it is used for conic sections. For more detail or other math questions. I recommend researching on "Khan academy" or watching "The Organic Chemistry Tutor" YouTube channel.
Chris
how to determine the vertex,focus,directrix and axis of symmetry of the parabola by equations
Bryssen Reply
i want to sure my answer of the exercise
meena Reply
what is the diameter of(x-2)²+(y-3)²=25
Den Reply
how to solve the Identity ?
Barcenas Reply
what type of identity
Jeffrey
Confunction Identity
Barcenas
how to solve the sums
meena
hello guys
meena
For each year t, the population of a forest of trees is represented by the function A(t) = 117(1.029)t. In a neighboring forest, the population of the same type of tree is represented by the function B(t) = 86(1.025)t.
Shakeena Reply
by how many trees did forest "A" have a greater number?
Shakeena
32.243
Kenard
how solve standard form of polar
Rhudy Reply
what is a complex number used for?
Drew Reply
It's just like any other number. The important thing to know is that they exist and can be used in computations like any number.
Steve
I would like to add that they are used in AC signal analysis for one thing
Scott
Good call Scott. Also radar signals I believe.
Steve
They are used in any profession where the phase of a waveform has to be accounted for in the calculations. Imagine two electrical signals in a wire that are out of phase by 90°. At some times they will interfere constructively, others destructively. Complex numbers simplify those equations
Tim
Is there any rule we can use to get the nth term ?
Anwar Reply
how do you get the (1.4427)^t in the carp problem?
Gabrielle Reply
A hedge is contrusted to be in the shape of hyperbola near a fountain at the center of yard.the hedge will follow the asymptotes y=x and y=-x and closest distance near the distance to the centre fountain at 5 yards find the eqution of the hyperbola
ayesha Reply
A doctor prescribes 125 milligrams of a therapeutic drug that decays by about 30% each hour. To the nearest hour, what is the half-life of the drug?
Sandra Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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