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Intro to logarithm properties

Learn about the properties of logarithms and how to use them to rewrite logarithmic expressions. For example, expand log₂(3a).
The product rulelogb(MN)=logb(M)+logb(N)
The quotient rulelogb(MN)=logb(M)logb(N)
The power rulelogb(Mp)=plogb(M)
(These properties apply for any values of M, N, and b for which each logarithm is defined, which is M, N>0 and 0<b1.)

What you should be familiar with before taking this lesson

You should know what logarithms are. If you don't, please check out our intro to logarithms.

What you will learn in this lesson

Logarithms, like exponents, have many helpful properties that can be used to simplify logarithmic expressions and solve logarithmic equations. This article explores three of those properties.
Let's take a look at each property individually.

The product rule: logb(MN)=logb(M)+logb(N)

This property says that the logarithm of a product is the sum of the logs of its factors.
We can use the product rule to rewrite logarithmic expressions.

Example: Expanding logarithms using the product rule

For our purposes, expanding a logarithm means writing it as the sum of two logarithms or more.
Let's expand log6(5y).
Notice that the two factors of the argument of the logarithm are 5 and y. We can directly apply the product rule to expand the log.
log6(5y)=log6(5y)=log6(5)+log6(y)Product rule

Example: Condensing logarithms using the product rule

For our purposes, compressing a sum of two or more logarithms means writing it as a single logarithm.
Let's condense log3(10)+log3(x).
Since the two logarithms have the same base (base-3), we can apply the product rule in the reverse direction:
log3(10)+log3(x)=log3(10x)Product rule=log3(10x)

An important note

When we compress logarithmic expressions using the product rule, the bases of all the logarithms in the expression must be the same.
For example, we cannot use the product rule to simplify something like log2(8)+log3(y).

Check your understanding

1) Expand log2(3a).

2) Condense log5(2y)+log5(8).

The quotient rule: logb(MN)=logb(M)logb(N)

This property says that the log of a quotient is the difference of the logs of the dividend and the divisor.
Now let's use the quotient rule to rewrite logarithmic expressions.

Example: Expanding logarithms using the quotient rule

Let's expand log7(a2), writing it as the difference of two logarithms by directly applying the quotient rule.
log7(a2)=log7(a)log7(2)Quotient rule

Example: Condensing logarithms using the quotient rule

Let's condense log4(x3)log4(y).
Since the two logarithms have the same base (base-4), we can apply the quotient rule in the reverse direction:
log4(x3)log4(y)=log4(x3y)Quotient rule

An important note

When we compress logarithmic expressions using the quotient rule, the bases of all logarithms in the expression must be the same.
For example, we cannot use the quotient rule to simplify something like log2(8)log3(y).

Check your understanding

3) Expand logb(4c).

4) Condense log(3z)log(8).

The power rule: logb(Mp)=plogb(M)

This property says that the log of a power is the exponent times the logarithm of the base of the power.
Now let's use the power rule to rewrite log expressions.

Example: Expanding logarithms using the power rule

For our purposes in this section, expanding a single logarithm means writing it as a multiple of another logarithm.
Let's use the power rule to expand log2(x3).
log2(x3)=3log2(x)Power rule=3log2(x)

Example: Condensing logarithms using the power rule

For our purposes in this section, condensing a multiple of a logarithm means writing it as another single logarithm.
Let's use the power rule to condense 4log5(2),
When we condense a logarithmic expression using the power rule, we make any multipliers into powers.
4log5(2)=log5(24)Power rule=log5(16)

Check your understanding

5) Expand log7(x5).

6) Condense 6ln(y).

Challenge problems

To solve these next problems, you will have to apply several properties in each case. Give it a try!
7) Which of the following is equivalent to logb(2x35)?
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8) Which of the following is equivalent to 3log2(x)2log2(5)?
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