Evaluating Exponents of Negative Numbers An exponent is a number that tells how many times the base number is used as a factor. For example, 34 indicates that the base number 3 is used as a factor 4 times. To determine the value of 34, multiply 3*3*3*3 which would give the result 81. If a negative number is raised to an even power, the result will be positive. (-2)4 = -2 * -2 * -2 * -2 = 16 If a negative number is raised to an odd power, the result will be negative. (-2)5 = -2 * -2 * -2 * -2 * -2 = -32 The negative number must be enclosed by parentheses to have the exponent apply to the negative term. Note that (-2)4 = -2 * -2 * -2 * -2 = 16 and -24 = -(2 * 2 * 2 * 2) = -16 Exponents are written as a superscript number (e.g. 34) or preceded by the caret (^) symbol (e.g. 3^4). Some facts about exponents: Zero raised to any power is zero (e.g. 05 = 0) One raised to any power is one (e.g. 15 = 1) Any number raised to the zero power is one (e.g. 70 = 1) Any number raised to the first power is that number (e.g. 71 = 7) Return to Top

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