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Q&A #19477


Exponential notation vs. scientific notation

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 01, 2008 at 21:04:49
Subject: Re: Exponential notation vs. scientific notation

Hi Melanie,

I found the following about exponential notation at this site:
http://www.vendian.org/envelope/dir0/exponential_notation.html

"Exponential notation lets you move the decimal point in a number. It
simplifies numbers by getting rid of zeros, and making math easier. Getting
rid of zeros helps with big 100,000,000 and small 0.000,000,001 numbers.

1,000,000 can be rewritten as 1.0  10^6 with the 6 saying the decimal has
moved 6 steps left.  0.001 can be rewritten as 1.  10^-3 with the -3 saying
the decimal has moved 3 steps right. 1.0  10^0 is just 1.0, since 0 means
the decimal hasn't been moved."

But this site says that any time you use exponents, that is exponential
notation (like, writing 4^3 instead of writing 4 x 4 x 4).

http://www.bmcc.org/virtual_docs/MathTutorials/Numbers/n-exno.htm

Here is another site that says it refers to using exponents as a sort of
shorthand.

http://cstl.syr.edu/FIPSE/Algebra/Unit2/expo.htm

And this is what I found about scientific notation:

http://members.aol.com/profchm/sci_not.html

"Today we will discuss the use of scientific notation also referred to as
exponential notation. The notation is based on powers of base number 10.
The general format looks something like this:

 N  X  10^x    where N= number greater than 1 but less than 10 and
                     x=exponent of 10.

Placing numbers in exponential notation has several advantages. For very
large numbers and extremely small ones, these numbers can be placed in
scientific notation in order to express them in a more concise form. In
addition, numbers placed in this notation can be used in a computation with
far greater ease. This last advantage was more practical before the advent
of calculators and their abundance. In scientific fields, scientific
notation is still used."

So, I guess it depends on who you talk to. I have actually never heard the
two used interchangeably, though someone else may have. I think using
"scientific notation" is probably more widely used.

 -Gail, for the T2T service

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