Exponents and Powers
Don't be afraid when you see something like 3^{2}. Numbers like the 2 shown are called exponents, and they have a special meaning in math. The number 3 is called the base, and the entire expression, 3^{2} is a power.
Before progressing any further, lets learn some important terminology. View the picture below to know what is being referred to.



What Does a "Power" Mean in Mathematics? 
A power is a multiplication problem. Mathematicians are lazy, so sometimes they make shortcuts for writing problems faster.
Whatever the base is (bigger number) that is the number that is going to get multiplied. The exponent (smaller number) is the number of times you will multiply the base times itself.
Picture explanation:
More Examples: Follow the Pattern if it Helps You 
◊ 2^{3} = 2·2·2 ◊ 4^{4} = 4·4·4·4 ◊ 5^{2} = 5·5 ◊ 8^{5} = 8·8·8·8·8 ◊ 
Sometimes, powers are evaluated like so: 3^{3} = 3·3·3 = 9·3 = 27
They can also apply to variables:
x^{3} = x·x·x or x^{5} = x·x·x·x·x or y^{4} = y·y·y·y
What is the Value of 4^{0}, 10^{0}, or even x^{0}? 
Listen carefully: Any power where the "raised number" is 0 is equal to 1.
I know this sounds strange, but believe us it is true. It always equals 1!
Examples: 3^{0} = 1 ◊ 9^{0} = 1 ◊ x^{0} = 1 ◊ (any number)^{0 }= 1
So, now that you know about exponents, why not learn about subscripts? Take a look at our page on calculating slope to learn why 3^{2} isn't 3_{2}!
Other prealgebra topics or the GradeA homepage.
