When I was in high school, I never did figure out what logarithms were all about. (I must have been sick that week!) But in my first year of university math and physics courses, I discovered that I needed to know what they were, and how they worked. So I went off to the library, found an old high school math textbook, and taught myself all about them. I discovered that they weren't that strange at all! The word 'logarithm' looked intimidating, but in fact it was really just a new name for something I already knew all about!
Here's what a logarithm is.
The word 'logarithm' just means 'exponent', or 'power'. That's all!
Here's a logarithm:
This just means: 'What power of 10 is 100?' Easy, right?
You can even work it out in your head ... it's 2.
How about if I asked you: 'What power of 2 is 8?' Hopefully, you'd immediately reply, '3'.
Here's the logarithm that says this:
Before we go any further, it's important that you know some powers. Your Math 9 teacher probably suggested you memorize a bunch of them. Here's the list you should know.
Here's another logarithm example: 'What power of 2 is 32?' The answer is of course '5' because 25 = 32.
Here's the logarithmic statement that says the same thing:
This time you try one. What does this mean?