There's one more operation besides addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. That's exponentiation, notated by superscript (e.g. or ), or sometimes -- especially on calculators and computers -- using the symbol ^.
means " to the power ", or in other words:
. (Remember, it's not just .) The is the base and the is the exponent . This is also called " squared"; it's the area of a square of side . (See square roots .)
The exponent tells you how many times to use the base as a factor. In the example below, the base is and the exponent is , so we find the product of four threes.
Which is greater, or ?
To answer the question, is greater.
To simplify more complicated expressions, see the page on properties of exponents . This page also deals with negative and rational exponents.
Some good sequences to remember (they come up in mathematics all the time) are the square numbers and the powers of two:
One important use of exponents is to express really large (or really small) numbers: this is called scientific notation and uses powers of ten.