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In mathematics, the power to which a base must be raised to yield a given number (e.g., the logarithm to the base 3 of 9, or log 9, is 2, because 32 = 9). A common logarithm is a logarithm to the base 10. Thus, the common logarithm of 100 (log 100) is 2, because 102 = 100. Logarithms to the base e, in which e = 2.71828 , called natural logarithms (ln), are especially useful in calculus. Logarithms were invented to simplify cumbersome calculations, since exponents can be added or subtracted to multiply or divide their bases. These processes have been further simplified by the incorporation of logarithmic functions into digital calculators and computers. See alsoJohn Napier.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on logarithm, visit Britannica.com.