## Onmatu- Pre-Algebra Article

# Exponents

Tweet Exponents are shorthand for repeated multiplication of the same thing by itself. For instance, the shorthand for multiplying three copies of the number 5 is shown on the right-hand side of the "equals" sign in (5)(5)(5) = 5

^{3}. The "exponent", being 3 in this example, stands for however many times the value is being multiplied. The thing that's being multiplied, being 5 in this example, is called the "base".

This process of using exponents is called "raising to a power", where the exponent is the "power". The expression "5^{3}" is pronounced as "five, raised to the third power" or "five to the third".

There are two specially-named powers: "to the second
power" is generally pronounced as "squared", and "to the third power" is
generally pronounced as "cubed". So "5^{3}" is commonly pronounced as "five cubed".

When we deal with numbers, we usually just simplify; we'd rather deal with "27" than with "3^{3}". But with variables, we need the exponents, because we'd rather deal with "*x*^{6}" than with "*xxxxxx*".