What is Logarithm?
In mathematics, the logarithm is the inverse function to exponentiation. That means the logarithm of a given number x is the exponent to which another fixed number, the base b, must be raised, to produce that number x. In the simplest case, the logarithm counts the number of occurrences of the same factor in repeated multiplication; e.g., since 1000 = 10 × 10 × 10 = 103, the "logarithm base 10" of 1000 is 3, or log10(1000) = 3. The logarithm of x to base b is denoted as logb (x), or without parentheses, logb x, or even without the explicit base, log x, when no confusion is possible, or when the base does not matter such as in big O notation.
More generally, exponentiation allows any positive real number as base to be raised to any real power, always producing a positive result, so logb (x) for any two positive real numbers b and x, where b is not equal to 1, is always a unique real number y.
log2 64 = 6, as 26 = 64
log10 1000 = 3, as 103 = 1000
The logarithm base 10 (that is b = 10) is called the common logarithm and has many applications in science and engineering. The natural logarithm has the number e (that is b ≈ 2.718) as its base; its use is widespread in mathematics and physics, because of its simpler integral and derivative. The binary logarithm uses base 2 (that is b = 2) and is commonly used in computer science.
In mathematics, the common logarithm is the logarithm with base 10. It is also known as the decadic logarithm and as the decimal logarithm, named after its base, or Briggsian logarithm, after Henry Briggs, an English mathematician who pioneered its use, as well as standard logarithm. Historically, it was known as logarithmus decimalis or logarithmus decadis. It is indicated by log(x), log10(x), or sometimes Log(x) with a capital L (however, this notation is ambiguous, since it can also mean the complex natural logarithmic multi-valued function). On calculators, it is printed as "log", but mathematicians usually mean natural logarithm (logarithm with base e ≈ 2.71828) rather than common logarithm when they write "log". To mitigate this ambiguity, the ISO 80000 specification recommends that log10(x) should be written lg(x), and loge(x) should be ln(x).
The logarithm of a positive real number x with respect to base is the exponent by which b must be raised to yield x. In other words, the logarithm of x to base b is the solution y to the equation.
The logarithm is denoted "logb x" (pronounced as "the logarithm of x to base b" or "the base-b logarithm of x" or (most commonly) "the log, base b, of x").
In the equation y = logb x, the value y is the answer to the question "To what power must b be raised, in order to yield x?".
- log2 16 = 4 , since 24 = 2 ×2 × 2 × 2 = 16.
- log10 150 is approximately 2.176, which lies between 2 and 3, just as 150 lies between 102 = 100 and 103 = 1000.
- For any base b, logb b = 1 and logb 1 = 0, since b1 = b and b0 = 1, respectively.
Logarithms were introduced by John Napier in 1614 as a means of simplifying calculations. They were rapidly adopted by navigators, scientists, engineers, surveyors and others to perform high-accuracy computations more easily. Using logarithm tables, tedious multi-digit multiplication steps can be replaced by table look-ups and simpler addition. This is possible because of the fact—important in its own right—that the logarithm of a product is the sum of the logarithms of the factors provided that b, x and y are all positive and b ≠ 1. The slide rule, also based on logarithms, allows quick calculations without tables, but at lower precision. The present-day notion of logarithms comes from Leonhard Euler, who connected them to the exponential function in the 18th century, and who also introduced the letter e as the base of natural logarithms.
Logarithmic scales reduce wide-ranging quantities to tiny scopes. For example, the decibel (dB) is a unit used to express ratio as logarithms, mostly for signal power and amplitude (of which sound pressure is a common example). In chemistry, pH is a logarithmic measure for the acidity of an aqueous solution. Logarithms are commonplace in scientific formulae, and in measurements of the complexity of algorithms and of geometric objects called fractals. They help to describe frequency ratios of musical intervals, appear in formulas counting prime numbers or approximating factorials, inform some models in psychophysics, and can aid in forensic accounting.
In the same way as the logarithm reverses exponentiation, the complex logarithm is the inverse function of the exponential function, whether applied to real numbers or complex numbers. The modular discrete logarithm is another variant; it has uses in public-key cryptography.
The history of logarithm in seventeenth-century Europe is the discovery of a new function that extended the realm of analysis beyond the scope of algebraic methods. The method of logarithms was publicly propounded by John Napier in 1614, in a book titled Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio (Description of the Wonderful Rule of Logarithms). Prior to Napier's invention, there had been other techniques of similar scopes, such as the prosthaphaeresis or the use of tables of progressions, extensively developed by Jost Bürgi around 1600. Napier coined the term for logarithm in Middle Latin, "logarithmorum," derived from the Greek, literally meaning, "ratio-number," from logos "proportion, ratio, word" + arithmos "number". The common logarithm of a number is the index of that power of ten which equals the number. Speaking of a number as requiring so many figures is a rough allusion to common logarithm, and was referred to by Archimedes as the "order of a number". The first real logarithms were heuristic methods to turn multiplication into addition, thus facilitating rapid computation. Some of these methods used tables derived from trigonometric identities. Such methods are called prosthaphaeresis.