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Algebra Expressions with Exponents

Calculate values of numbers with exponents

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Algebra Expressions with Exponents

Exponents 

Many formulas and equations in mathematics contain exponents. Exponents are used as a short-hand notation for repeated multiplication. For example:

\begin{align} 2 \cdot 2 & = 2^2\\ 2 \cdot 2 \cdot 2 & = 2^3\\ \end{align} 22222=22=23

The exponent stands for how many times the number is used as a factor (multiplied). When dealing with integers, it's usually easiest to simplify the expression. For example, as shown here, we commonly just write 4 instead of \begin{align*}2^2,\end{align*}22, and 8 instead of \begin{align*}2^3.\end{align*}23.

\begin{align} 2^2 & = 4\\ 2^3 & = 8\\ \end{align}2223=4=8

However, we generally keep the exponents when we work with variables, because it is much easier to write \begin{align*}x^8\end{align*}x8 than \begin{align*}x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x.\end{align*}xxxxxxxx.

To evaluate expressions with exponents, substitute the values you are given for each variable and simplify. It is especially important when working with exponents to substitute using parentheses in order to make sure that the simplification is done correctly.

 

 

 

 

Evaluating an Expression Containing Exponents 

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The area of a circle is given by the formula \begin{align*}A = \pi r^2.\end{align*}A=πr2. Find the area of a circle with radius \begin{align*}r = 17 \ inches.\end{align*}r=17 inches.

Substitute values into the equation.

\begin{align} A & = \pi r^2 \qquad \text{Substitute 17 for }r.\\ & = \pi (17)^2\\ & = 3.14 (17)(17)\\ A & \approx 907.92 \text{ Rounded to 2 decimal places.}\\ \end{align}AA=πr2Substitute 17 for r.=π(17)2=3.14(17)(17)907.92 Rounded to 2 decimal places.

The area of the circle is approximately 907.92 square inches.

Evaluating a Multi-Variable Expression Containing Exponents 


\begin{align*}\text{Find the value of }\frac { x^2y^3 } { x^3 + y^2 }, \text{ when }x=2 \text{ and }y=-4.\end{align*}Find the value of x2y3x3+y2, when x=2 and y=4.

Substitute the given values for \begin{align*}x\end{align*} and \begin{align*}y\end{align*}.

\begin{align} \frac { x^2y^3 } { x^3 + y^2 } & = \frac { (2)^2 (-4)^3 } { (2)^3 + (-4)^2 } \qquad \text{Substitute} \ 2 \ \text{for} \ x \ \text{and} \ -4 \ \text{for} \ y.\\ & = \frac { 4(-64) } { 8 + 16 } \qquad \qquad (2)^2 = 4, \ (-4)^3 = -64, \ (2)^3 = 8, \ (-4)^2 = 16.\\ & = \frac { - 256 } { 24 }\\ & = \frac{-32}{3} \\ \end{align}

Real World Application 

The height \begin{align*}(h)\end{align*} of a ball in flight is given by the formula \begin{align*}h = - 32t^2 + 60t + 20\end{align*}, where the height is given in feet and the time \begin{align*}(t)\end{align*} is given in seconds. Find the height of the ball at time \begin{align*}t = 2 \text{ seconds.}\end{align*}

\begin{align} h & = -32t^2 + 60t + 20\\ & = -32(2)^2 + 60(2) + 20 \qquad \text{Substitute} \ 2 \ \text{for} \ t.\\ & = -32(4) + 60(2) + 20\\ & = 12\\ \end{align}

The height of the ball is 12 feet.

 

 

 

 

Example

Example 1

Find the value of \begin{align*}\frac { a^2+b^2 } { a^2-b^2 }\end{align*}, for \begin{align*}a = -1\end{align*} and \begin{align*}5\end{align*}.

Substitute the values of \begin{align*}x\end{align*} and \begin{align*}y\end{align*} in the following.

\begin{align*} \frac { a^2+b^2 } { a^2-b^2 } = \frac { (-1)^2+(5)^2 } { (-1)^2-(5)^2 } \qquad \text{Substitute} \ -1 \ \text{for} \ a \ \text{and} \ 5 \ \text{for} \ b.\\ \frac { 1+25 } { 1-25 } = \frac { 26 } { 24 }=\frac{13}{12} \qquad \qquad \text{Evaluate and simplify expressions.} \end{align*}

Review 

Evaluate 1-8 using \begin{align*}x = -1, \ y = 2, \ z = -3,\end{align*} and \begin{align*}w = 4\end{align*}.

  1. \begin{align*} 8x^3\end{align*}
  2. \begin{align*}\frac { 5x^2 } { 6z^3 } \end{align*}
  3. \begin{align*} 3z^2 - 5w^2\end{align*}
  4. \begin{align*} x^2 - y^2 \end{align*}
  5. \begin{align*} \frac { z^3 + w^3 } { z^3 - w^3 } \end{align*}
  6. \begin{align*} 2x^3 - 3x^2 + 5x - 4\end{align*}
  7. \begin{align*} 4w^3 + 3w^2 - w + 2 \end{align*}
  8. \begin{align*}3 + \frac{ 1 } { z^2 }\end{align*}

For 9-10, use the fact that the volume of a box without a lid is given by the formula \begin{align*} V = 4x(10 - x)^2\end{align*}, where \begin{align*}x\end{align*} is a length in inches and \begin{align*}V\end{align*} is the volume in cubic inches.

  1. What is the volume when \begin{align*}x = 2\end{align*}?
  2. What is the volume when \begin{align*}x = 3\end{align*}?

Review (Answers)

To view the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 1.3. 

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Vocabulary

Evaluate

To evaluate an expression or equation means to perform the included operations, commonly in order to find a specific value.

Exponent

Exponents are used to describe the number of times that a term is multiplied by itself.

Expression

An expression is a mathematical phrase containing variables, operations and/or numbers. Expressions do not include comparative operators such as equal signs or inequality symbols.

Integer

The integers consist of all natural numbers, their opposites, and zero. Integers are numbers in the list ..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3...

Parentheses

Parentheses "(" and ")" are used in algebraic expressions as grouping symbols.

substitute

In algebra, to substitute means to replace a variable or term with a specific value.

Volume

Volume is the amount of space inside the bounds of a three-dimensional object.

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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