Indices and roots are fundamental concepts in mathematics, especially in algebra. In this context, an index refers to the power or exponent of a number, while a root relates to the inverse operation of exponentiation. In this explanation, we'll use indices and roots in GCSE mathematics.

Indices, or powers, are a shorthand way of showing that a number or variable has been multiplied by itself a certain number of times. For example, 2 raised to the power of 3, written as 23, means 2 multiplied by itself three times: 2 × 2 × 2 = 8.

Similarly, x raised to the power of 4, written as x4, means x multiplied by itself four times: x × x × x × x.

We can also have negative and fractional indices. A negative index means the number is in the denominator instead of the numerator, and the exponent is positive. For example, 2 raised to the power of -2, written as 2-2, means 1 divided by 2 multiplied by itself twice: 1/(2 × 2) = 1/4.

A fractional index means that the root of the number is taken, where the fraction's denominator is the root's power. For example, the cube root of 27, written as 273, means finding a number that, when multiplied by itself three times, gives you 27. This number is 3 since 3 × 3 × 3 = 27.

Learning the laws of indices is essential to help perform calculations involving powers and roots. The primary rules are:

Multiplying powers with the same base: add the indices (e.g., 23 × 24 = 2(3+4) = 27)
Dividing powers with the same base: subtract the indices (e.g., 25 ÷ 23 = 2(5-3) = 22)
Raising a power to another power: multiply the indices (e.g., (23)2 = 2(3×2) = 26)
Powers of 0 and 1: 0 raised to any positive power is 0, and 1 raised to any power is 1 (e.g., 03 = 0, 110 = 1)

One crucial fact to remember is that anything to the power of 0 always equals 1. This means that any number or variable raised to the power of 0 is 1, such as 20 = 1, x0 = 1, or a0 = 1.

Another useful concept in GCSE mathematics is the standard form, also known as scientific notation. This is a way of writing very large or very small numbers concisely. The standard form uses a power of 10 to express the magnitude of the number. For example, the number 1,000,000 can be written as 1 × 106, while the number 0.00001 can be written as 1 × 10-5. This notation allows us to perform calculations without getting bogged down by long strings of zeros.

In conclusion, indices and roots are essential concepts in mathematics, and mastering them is crucial in GCSE mathematics. Knowing the laws of indices and understanding standard forms can help simplify complex calculations and make them more manageable.

Revision Quiz

To answer the questions correctly, hover over each option and click to select it. After you finish, click 'Submit' to check your score and see the correct answers and explanations. Most questions will include an explanation with the answer. Please take the time to read the explanations accompanying the answers to your questions. Doing so will give you a better overall understanding of the topic. All the best!

This topic is for Premium Plan subscribers only

Sign up now and upgrade your account to read the post and get access to the full library of learning topics for paying subscribers only.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in