Physics Study Guide/Logs

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Review of logs[edit]

Been a while since you used logs? Here is a quick refresher for you.

The log (short for logarithm) of a number N is the exponent used to raise a certain "base" number B to get N. In short, \log_B\ N = x means that B^x = N.

Typically, logs use base 10. An increase of "1" in a base 10 log is equivalent to an increase by a power of 10 in normal notation. In logs, "3" is 100 times the size of "1". If the log is written without an explicit base, 10 is (usually) implied.

y=10^x\ \mathrm{or}\ \log_{10}y=x\
therefore: log(10–12) = –12
also: log(1000) = 3


Another common base for logs is the trancendental number e, which is approximately 2.7182818.... Since \frac{d}{dx} e^x = e^x, these can be more convenient than \log_{10}. Often, the notation \ln\ x is used instead of \log_e\ x.

The following properties of logs are true regardless of whether the base is 10, e, or some other number.

logA + logB = log(AB)

logA – logB = log(A/B)

log(AB) = B log(A)


Adding the log of A to the log of B will give the same result as taking the log of the product A times B.

Subtracting the log of B from the log of A will give the same result as taking the log of the quotient A divided by B.

The log of (A to the Bth power) is equal to the product (B times the log of A).

A few examples:
log(2) + log(3) = log(6)
log(30) – log(2) = log(15)
log(8) = log(23) = 3log(2)