What is exponent? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

An exponent is a quantity representing the power to which some other quantity is raised. Exponents do not have to be numbers or constants; they can be variables. They are often positive whole number s, but they can be negative number s, fractional number s, irrational number s, or complex number s.

Consider the following mathematical expressions:

y = e x
x 3 + 5 x 2 - 5 x + 6 = 0
x 2 + y 2 = z 2

In the first expression, x is the exponent of e . In the second expression, the numbers 3 and 2 are exponents of x . In the third expression, the number 2 is an exponent of x , y , and z .

Exponents are important in scientific notation, when large or small quantities are denoted as powers of 10. Consider this expression of a large number:

534,200,000,000 = 5.342 x 10 11

Here, the exponent 11, attached to the base 10, indicates the quantity 100,000,000,000.

In conventional documentation, exponents are denoted by superscripts, as in the examples above. But it is not always possible to write them this way. When sending an e-mail message, the body of text must be in plain ASCII , which does not support specialized character attributes such as superscripts. If x is the exponent to which some base quantity a is raised, then a x can be written in ASCII as a^x. In scientific notation, the uppercase letter E can be used to indicate that a number is raised to a positive or negative power of 10. That power is usually indicated by two-digit numbers between -99 and +99. Here are some examples:

2.45 x 10 6 = 2.45E+06
6.0033 x 10 -17 = 6.0033E-17

Also see logarithm .

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • JBoss

    - JBoss is a division of Red Hat that provides support for the JBoss open source application server program and related middleware services marketed under the JBoss Enterprise Middleware brand. (WhatIs.com)

  • GPU supercomputer

    - A GPU supercomputer is a networked group of computers with multiple graphics processing units working as general-purpose GPUs (GPGPUs) in tandem on a single task. (WhatIs.com)

  • video card (graphics card)

    - A video adapter (alternate terms include graphics card, display adapter, video card, video board and almost any combination of the words in these terms) is an integrated circuit card in a computer ... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Computing fundamentals

    - Terms related to computer fundamentals, including computer hardware definitions and words and phrases about software, operating systems, peripherals and troubleshooting.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.