# Exponential Function

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

## exponential function

[‚ek·spə′nen·chəl ′fəŋk·shən]*x*) =

*e*

^{ x }, written ƒ(

*x*) = exp (

*x*).

## Exponential Function

the important elementary function *f(z*) = *e ^{z}*; sometimes written exp

*z.*It is encountered in numerous applications of mathematics to the natural sciences and engineering. For any real or complex value of

*z*, the exponential function is defined by the equation

It is obvious that *e ^{0}* = 1. When

*z*= 1, the value of the function is equal to

*e*, which is the base of the system of natural logarithms. Basic properties of the function are

*e*^{z1}*e*^{z2} = *e*^{z1 + z2} (e^{z1})^{z2} = e^{z1z2}

for any values of *z*_{1} and *z*_{2}. Moreover, on the real axis (Figure 1), *e ^{x}* > 0. As

*x*→ ∞, the function increases faster than any power of

*x;*when

*x*→ – ∞, it decreases faster than any power of 1

*/x:*

no matter what the exponent *n.* The logarithmic function is the inverse of the exponential function: if *w = e ^{z}*, then

*z*= 1n

*w.*

The function *a ^{z}*, where the base

*a*> 0 is different from

*e*, is also called an exponential function. For example, in school mathematics courses such exponential functions as

*2*and (1/2)

^{x}^{x}are discussed for real values of

*z*=

*x.*The relation between the exponential function

*a*and the exponential function

^{z}*e*is given by the equation

^{z}*a*^{z} = *e*^{z 1n a}

The exponential function *e ^{x}* is an integral transcendental function. It can be expanded in the power series

which converges throughout the z-plane. Equation (1) can also serve as a definition of the exponential function.

Letting *z* = *x* + *iy*, L. Euler obtained (1748) the formula

(2) *e*^{z} = *e*^{x + iy} =*e*^{x} (cos *y* + i sin *y*)

which connects the exponential function with the trigonometric functions. The equations

follow from it. The functions

are called hyperbolic functions and have a number of properties similar to those of the trigonometric functions. They and the trigonometric functions play an important role in various applications of mathematics.

It follows from equation (2) that the exponential function of a complex variable *z* has a period 2πi; that is, *e*^{z + 2πi} = *e*^{z} or *e*^{2πi} = 1. The derivative of the exponential function is equal to the function itself: (*e ^{z}*)ʹ =

*e*

^{z}.These properties of the exponential function account for its numerous applications. In particular, the exponential function expresses the law of natural growth, which governs the course of processes whose rate is proportional to the current value of a variable quantity. Unimolecular chemical reactions and, under certain conditions, the growth of a bacteria colony are examples. The periodicity of an exponential function of a complex variable, along with the function’s other properties, accounts for the exceptionally important role the function plays in the study of all periodic processes, particularly oscillations and wave propagation.