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Intro to exponents

How do we interpret exponents? 2 to the 3rd power (2^3) is the same as multiplying three 2's together: 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. So, in this case, the exponent (3) tells you how many times to multiply the base number (2) by itself. Created by Sal Khan.

Video transcript

You already know that we can view multiplication as repeated addition. So, if we had 2 times 3 (2 × 3), we could literally view this as 3 2's being added together. So it could be 2 + 2 + 2. Notice this is [COUNTING: 1, 2] 3 2's. And when you add those 2's together, you get 6. What we're going to introduce you to in this video is the idea of repeated multiplication – a new operation that really can be viewed as repeated multiplication. And that's the operation of taking an 'exponent.' And it sounds very fancy. But we'll see with a few examples that it's not too bad. So now, let's take the idea of 2 to the 3rd power (2^3) – which is how we would say this. (So let me write this down in the appropriate colors.) So 2 to the 3rd power. (2^3.) So you might be tempted to say, "Hey, maybe this is 2 × 3, which would be 6." But remember, I just said this is repeated multiplication. So if I have 2 to the 3rd power, (2^3), this literally means multiplying 3 2's together. So this would be equal to, not 2 + 2 + 2, but 2 × ... (And I’ll use a little dot to signify multiplication.) ... 2 × 2 × 2. Well, what's 2 × 2 × 2? Well that is equal to 8. (2 × 2 × 2 = 8.) So 2 to the 3rd power is equal to 8. (2^3 = 8.) Let's try a few more examples here. What is 3 to the 2nd power (3^2) going to be equal to? And I'll let you think about that for a second. I encourage you to pause the video. So let's think it through. This literally means multiplying 2 3's. So let's multiply 3 – (Let me do that in yellow.) Let's multiply 3 × 3. So this is going to be equal to 9. Let’s do a few more examples. What is, say, 5 to the – let's say – 5 to the 4th power (5^4)? And what you'll see here is this number is going to get large very, very, very fast. So 5 to the 4th power (5^4) is going to be equal to multiplying 4 5's together. So 5^4 = 5 × 5 × 5 × 5. Notice, we have [COUNTING: 1, 2, 3] 4 5's. And we are multiplying them. We are not adding them. This is not 5 × 4. This is not 20. This is 5 × 5 × 5 × 5. So what is this going to be? Well 5 × 5 is 25. (5 × 5 = 25.) 25 × 5 is 125. (25 × 5 = 125.) 125 × 5 is 625. (125 × 5 = 625.)