Exponential Functions

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Operations With Exponential Function

An exponential function is a function where a constant base (b) is raised to a variable.


Firstly, is which is . So when you multiply a base by the same base you add the variables. To clarify, here is an example with numbers:

1 2 4 8 8
2 4 16 64 64


Secondly is . So when a base is divided by the same base you subtract the variables.

Here is an example with numbers: .

Base raised to two powers

Thirdly is which is . So when a base with a variable is raised to a variable you multiply the variables. Here is another example with numbers: (when x = 1) .

Multiple bases

Fourthly when it is the same as . Here is an example with numbers: . There is a similar situation with division: . So when you multiply or divide two different bases raised to the same variable you can multiply or divide them first and then raise them to the variable.

Fractional exponents

The last case is when x is presented as a fraction, you can make a square root function, for example becomes . However it is customary to only use the positive root and so is defined as . Another similar case is when the fraction has a constant (designated as c) other than 1 in the numerator , for example so .

The Laws of Exponents

The rules that have been suggested above are known as the laws of exponents and can be written as:

  1. where c is a constant

Graphing an Exponential Function

When you graph an exponential function you use the same methods as with a regular function. There is a graph below that you can look at.


Solving Exponential Equations

In order to solve an exponential equation you need to make sure that all the bases are the same. Then you can remove the base and solve for the variable. Here is an example:

Solve for x.

Now we convert 16 to a base 2 raised to a number.

Now we can remove the base. So we have:

Finally solve for x.



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