Three real numbers x,y,p, with x,y>0 and x1, are said to obey the logarithmic relation


if they obey the corresponding exponentialMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath relation:


Note that by the monotonicity and continuity property of the exponential operation, for given x and y there exists a unique p satisfying the above relation. We are therefore able to says that p is the logarithmMathworldPlanetmath of y relative to the base x.


There are a number of basic algebraic identities involving logarithms.

logx(yz) =logx(y)+logx(z)
logx(yz) =logx(y)-logx(z)
logx(yz) =zlogx(y)
logx(1) =0
logx(x) =1
logx(y)logy(x) =1
logy(z) =logx(z)logx(y)

By the very first identity, any logarithm restricted (http://planetmath.org/RestrictionOfAFunction) to the set of positive integers is an additive functionMathworldPlanetmath.

Notes. In essence, logarithms convert multiplication to addition, and exponentiation to multiplication. Historically, these properties of the logarithm made it a useful tool for doing numerical calculations. Before the advent of electronic calculators and computers, tables of logarithms and the logarithmic slide rule were essential computational aids.

Scientific applications predominantly make use of logarithms whose base is the Eulerian numberDlmfPlanetmath e=2.71828. Such logarithms are called natural logarithmsMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath and are commonly denoted by the symbol ln, e.g.


Natural logarithms naturally give rise to the natural logarithm functionMathworldPlanetmath.

A frequent convention, seen in elementary mathematics texts and on calculators, is that logarithms that do not give a base explicitly are assumed to be base 10, e.g.


This is far from . In Rudin’s “Real and Complex analysis”, for example, we see a baseless log used to refer to the natural logarithm. By contrast, computer science and information theory texts often assume 2 as the default logarithm base. This is motivated by the fact that log2(N) is the approximate number of bits required to encode N different messages.

The invention of logarithms is commonly credited to John Napier [ http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/ history/Mathematicians/Napier.htmlBiography]

Title logarithm
Canonical name Logarithm
Date of creation 2013-03-22 12:25:21
Last modified on 2013-03-22 12:25:21
Owner rmilson (146)
Last modified by rmilson (146)
Numerical id 21
Author rmilson (146)
Entry type Definition
Classification msc 26A09
Classification msc 26A06
Classification msc 26-00
Related topic Entropy
Related topic ComplexLogarithm
Defines base
Defines natural logarithm
Defines ln
Defines log