# Solving logarithmic equations

Q:  Solve
log16x + log4x + log2x = 7

A:  It is easier (though not always necessary) to have all of the logs in the same base to proceed.  Since that is not the case, we need to use the change of base formula to put all of the logs into the same base.

Change of base formula says:
logab = logcb / logcwhere c can be any base of your choosing

What base should we go to?  Since 16, 4 and 2 can all be formed by powers of 2, let’s go to base 2:

log16x + log4x + log2x = 7

log2x / log216 + log2x / log24 + log2x / log22 = 7

Now, we can simplify:

log2x / 4 + log2x / 2 + log2x / 1 = 7

1/4 log2x + 1/2 log2x + log2x = 7

7/4 log2x = 7

log2x = 7 *(4/7)

log2x = 4  (remember, this reads:  the power you put on 2 to get x is 4)

x = 16

# Solving Exponential Equations by Factoring

Q:  Solve for x:
22x + 2x+2 – 12 = 0

A:  The first thing we need to notice (from practice and experience) is that we can re-write this like so using our knowledge / rules of exponents:

(2x)2 + 22*2x – 12 = 0
Now simplify a little:

(2x)2 + 4*2x – 12 = 0

So, look at this in a new light.  What if we substitute each 2x with y?

(2x)2 + 4*2x – 12 = 0   turns into   y2 + 4*y – 12 = 0

(this isn’t necessary, but is helpful for visualization)

We see this is in the form of a quadratic and can be factored:

(y + 6)(y – 2) = 0

So, y = -6 or y = 2

Remember, y was a substitution for 2x. So, we really have:
2x = -6   or   2x = 2

2x = -6

Solve for x by taking the log of both sides (you can use the log of any base: log base 10, log base 2, natural log):

log(2x)= log(-6)
We can stop right here because you cannot take the log of a negative number. This equations yields no solutions.

So, the second equation:

2x = 2
log(2x) = log(2)

Logarithm rules say that the x exponent can come down as a multiplier like so:

x*log(2) = log(2)

Divide both sides by log(2) to get:

x = 1.

# Negative Exponent Examples and Basics

Q:  What is a negative exponent?  What does a negative exponent do?

A:  A negative exponent is just notation that can be used to represent a reciprocal.  Let me show you some examples:

x – 1 = 1/x1 or 1/x

x-2 = 1/x2

4 – 1 = 1/41 or 1/4

4 – 2 = 1/42 = 1/16

Those are the basics.  Let’s look at a few more complicated examples of how negative exponents affect an expression:

3x – 4 = 3/x4

4x6y – 3 = 4x6/y3

OR… If the negative exponent is affecting something in a denominator, it will move it to the numerator like so:

1/x – 5 = 1*x5 = x5

6/y – 7 = 6y7

These are just a few basic examples to show you how negative exponents work. Of course things can get more difficult.