How to Use the y^x Calculator Key

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Sometimes, there's just an easier and faster way of doing things in math. And thanks to the y^x button on your calculator you can save yourself lots of time when solving certain problems. This lesson will explore how.

Simplifying Math

One of the ways I can multiply 10 raised to the power of 5, written as 10^5, is by multiplying 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 * 10. Written out, that looks like this:

10 * 10 is 100. 100 * 10 = 1000. 1000 * 10 = 10,000. 10,000 * 10 = 100,000.

Wow. You'll probably agree that is horrendously inefficient, long, hard, and boring. Enter the miracle of one little key on your calculator, the y^x key.

Let's find out what this key represents and, with some examples, see how it make our life much easier.

The y^x Key

Pick up a calculator. Do you see a y^x button? Sometimes it's written as x^y. If you can't find any such button, you may need to get your hands on a more scientific calculator. Assuming you've got one, let's just pretend every one of them has a button that says y^x, not some alternative like x^y, for simplicity's sake.

The y in this key is called the base. The base is raised to a certain power or exponent. In the example that we just went over in the intro, our y was 10. That means 10 is our base. In that same example, our x was 5. This means our exponent is 5. We now know that 10^5 is equal to 100,000. But we did that the long way.

Examples

Instead of multiplying out 10^5 essentially by hand, let's use the y^x button to make our life easier.

Step 1. The first thing you need to do is turn the calculator on. Duh!

Step 2. Next, make sure the screen (display) is clear of any numbers. Sometimes the calculator turns on and has held on to a number if you didn't clear the screen prior to shutting it off. There should be a clear (C) key somewhere, so just press it if you have to.

Step 3. Now that the screen is free of any numbers, go ahead and punch 10 into the calculator. This is our base from the prior example.

Step 4. With the 10 showing on the screen, press the y^x button.

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