Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Robin, a student:

My math teacher has asked the question:

"Write mmmxxjmyy2 in exponential form"

How would you solve this problem?

Hi Robin,

I received $mmmxxjmyy2$ but I am going to assume this was meant to be $mmmxxjmyy^2 .$I am also going to assume that the individual letters are variables.

There are many correct responses to this request. "Exponential form" just means that there are exponents in the expression and there are many way to accomplish this. I am going to use the sting of letters "$mississipp$i" and express it in exponential form assuming each letter is an individual variable,

If I focus on the letters I see "$ss= s^2$" and "$pp = p^2$" and write

\[\mbox{mississippi} = mis^2 is^2 i p^2 i\]

I see this as a correct response to the instructions since it involves exponents. I expect, however that your teacher wants you to collect the variables first and then write the expression using exponents. That is

\[\mbox{mississippi} = \mbox{miiiisssspp} = m i^4 s^4 p^2\]

I have the letters in the order misp but why not put them in alphabetical order?

\[\mbox{mississippi} = i^4 m p^2 s^4\]

Robin, now you try $mmmxxjmyy^2 .$


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