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6.2: Quotient Rules for Exponents

Difficulty Level: Advanced Created by: CK-12
Practice Exponential Properties Involving Quotients
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Suppose you have the expression:

\frac{x\cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y}{x\cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y}

How could you write this expression in a more concise way?

Watch This

James Sousa: Simplify Exponential Expressions- Quotient Rule


In the expression x^3 , the x is called the base and the 3 is called the exponent . Exponents are often referred to as powers . When an exponent is a positive whole number, it tells you how many times to multiply the base by itself. For example:

  • x^3=x\cdot x \cdot x
  • 2^4=2\cdot 2 \cdot 2 \cdot 2=16 .

There are many rules that have to do with exponents (often called the Laws of Exponents ) that are helpful to know so that you can work with expressions and equations that involve exponents more easily. Here you will learn two rules that have to do with exponents and quotients.

RULE: To divide two powers with the same base, subtract the exponents.

& \qquad \qquad \ {\color{red} m \ \text{factors}}\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad {\color{red}\uparrow}\\& \frac{a^m}{a^n}=\frac{\overleftrightarrow{(a \times a \times \ldots \times a)}}{\underleftrightarrow{(a \times a \times \ldots \times a)}} \ m>n;a \neq 0\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad {\color{red}\downarrow}\\& \qquad \qquad \ {\color{red} n \ \text{factors}}\\& \frac{a^m}{a^n}=\underleftrightarrow{(a \times a \times \ldots \times a)}\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad {\color{red}\downarrow}\\& \qquad \qquad \ {\color{red} m-n \ \text{factors}}\\& \frac{a^m}{a^n}=a^{\color{red}m-n}

RULE: To raise a quotient to a power, raise both the numerator and the denominator to the power.

& \left(\frac{a}{b} \right)^n= \underleftrightarrow{\frac{a}{b} \times \frac{a}{b} \times \ldots \times \frac{a}{b}}\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad \quad \ {\color{red}\downarrow}\\& \qquad \qquad \quad \quad {\color{red}n} \ {\color{red}\text{factors}}\\& \qquad \qquad \quad \quad {\color{red}n} \ {\color{red}\text{factors}}\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad \quad \ {\color{red}\uparrow}\\& \left(\frac{a}{b}\right)^n=\frac{\overleftrightarrow{(a \times a \times \ldots \times a)}}{\underleftrightarrow{(b \times b \times \ldots \times b)}}\\& \qquad \qquad \qquad \quad \ {\color{red}\downarrow}\\& \qquad \qquad \quad \quad {\color{red}n} \ {\color{red}\text{factors}}\\& \left(\frac{a}{b} \right)^n=\frac{a^{\color{red}n}}{b^{\color{red}n}} \ (b \neq 0)

Example A

Simplify 2^7 \div 2^3 .


& 2^7 \div 2^3 && \text{The base is} \ 2.\\& 2^{7-3} && \text{Keep the base of} \ 2 \ \text{and subtract the exponents}.\\& 2^{\color{red}4} && \text{The answer is in exponential form}.

The answer can be taken one step further. The base is numerical so the term can be evaluated.

& 2^4 = 2 \times 2 \times 2 \times 2\\&{\color{red}2^4} = {\color{red}16}\\& \boxed{2^7 \div 2^3 =2^4=16}

Example B

Simplify \frac{x^8}{x^2} .


& \frac{x^8}{x^2} && \text{The base is} \ x.\\& x^{8-2} && \text{Keep the base of} \ x \ \text{and subtract the exponents.}\\& x^{\color{red}6} && \text{The answer is in exponential form.}\\& \boxed{\frac{x^8}{x^2}=x^6}

Example C

Simplify \frac{16x^5 y^5}{4x^2 y^3} .


& \frac{16x^5 y^5}{4x^2 y^3} && \text{The bases are} \ x \ \text{and} \ y.\\& 4 \left( \frac{x^5 y^5}{x^2 y^3} \right) && \text{Divide the coefficients -} \ 16 \div 4=4. \ \text{Keep the base of} \ x \ \text{and} \ y \ \text{and}\\& && \text{subtract the exponents of the same base.}\\& 4x^{5-2}y^{5-3}\\& 4x^{{\color{red}3}} y^{\color{red}2}

Concept Problem Revisited

\frac{x\cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y}{x\cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot x \cdot y \cdot y \cdot y} can be rewritten as \frac{x^9y^5}{x^6y^3} and then simplified to x^3y^2 .

Guided Practice

Simplify each of the following expressions.

1. \left(\frac{2}{3}\right)^2

2. \left(\frac{x}{6}\right)^3

3. \left(\frac{3x}{4y}\right)^2


1. \left(\frac{2}{3}\right)^2=\frac{2^2}{3^2}=\frac{4}{9}

2. \left(\frac{x}{6}\right)^3=\frac{x^3}{6^3}=\frac{x^3}{216}

3. \left(\frac{3x}{4y}\right)^2=\frac{3^2x^2}{4^2y^2}=\frac{9x^2}{16y^2}

Explore More

Simplify each of the following expressions, if possible.

  1. \left(\frac{2}{5}\right)^6
  2. \left(\frac{4}{7}\right)^3
  3. \left(\frac{x}{y}\right)^4
  4. \frac{20x^4y^5}{5x^2y^4}
  5. \frac{42x^2y^8z^2}{6xy^4z}
  6. \left(\frac{3x}{4y}\right)^3
  7. \frac{72x^2y^4}{8x^2y^3}
  8. \left(\frac{x}{4}\right)^5
  9. \frac{24x^{14}y^8}{3x^5y^7}
  10. \frac{72x^3y^9}{24xy^6}
  11. \left(\frac{7}{y}\right)^3
  12. \frac{20x^{12}}{-5x^8}
  1. Simplify using the laws of exponents: \frac{2^3}{2^5}
  2. Evaluate the numerator and denominator separately and then simplify the fraction: \frac{2^3}{2^5}
  3. Use your result from the previous problem to determine the value of a : \frac{2^3}{2^5}=\frac{1}{2^{a}}
  4. Use your results from the previous three problems to help you evaluate 2^{-4} .

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Date Created:

Apr 30, 2013

Last Modified:

Feb 26, 2015
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