# Why can't my calculator do log -2(4) ?

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#2

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I don't get why.

**lhh2003**)I don't get why.

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#3

(Original post by

I don't get why.

**lhh2003**)I don't get why.

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#4

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Because logarithms cannot take in a negative number. (At A-Level, anyway)

**RDKGames**)Because logarithms cannot take in a negative number. (At A-Level, anyway)

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Needs a bigger calculator: https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Log%5B-2%2C+4%5D

**Gregorius**)Needs a bigger calculator: https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Log%5B-2%2C+4%5D

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#6

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Wait Logs can take negative values? (I’m not questioning the statement, just curious as I’ve not come across it, I’m at A-level), how does it work? Is it to do with complex numbers?

**Physicsqueen**)Wait Logs can take negative values? (I’m not questioning the statement, just curious as I’ve not come across it, I’m at A-level), how does it work? Is it to do with complex numbers?

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#7

**Physicsqueen**)

Wait Logs can take negative values? (I’m not questioning the statement, just curious as I’ve not come across it, I’m at A-level), how does it work? Is it to do with complex numbers?

Any complex number can be written as therefore, taking logs means

But since can take on multiple values (we call them

*branches*) then we can agree on the so-called principal value of . This occurs when we only take the argument of to be over the interval

Hence, we have the natural log of a complex number along the principal branch as:

where the capital L and A letters symbolise that we are taking the principal branch value.

Anyway, once we have this established, it is clear that for we have

If you want other branches, just add/subtract from the argument; hence really, it means that takes on infinitely many values of the form

where .

Last edited by RDKGames; 4 months ago

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#8

(Original post by

(-2)^2 = 4 , so what is with all the imaginary numbers in that calculator ? I don't do FM btw.

**lhh2003**)(-2)^2 = 4 , so what is with all the imaginary numbers in that calculator ? I don't do FM btw.

Remember that answer that Wolfram gave:

https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Log%5B-2%2C+4%5D

Feed it back, raising (-2) to its power:

https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?...g%5B2%5D%29%29

and you get 4. Sort of suggest that there is more than one answer to the original question.

It turns out that you have to be very careful about what these sorts of things mean. For example, you can write a number like -2 as 2 x exp(-i x Pi), and therefore log(-2) = log(2) - i x Pi (where we're using natural logarithms). If you recall the formula for changing between bases of logarithms, you should now see where the imaginary numbers that Wolfram gave come from!

But why doesn't Wolfram give the "obvious" answer of 2 to the question "what is log(-2, 4)"? It's because complex logarithms are "many valued" unless you start doing things to make them single valued. When you start doing these things (in a particular way), all of a sudden the single values that you get are not necessarily the ones you might think you should get.

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#9

(Original post by

Yes, it's to do with complex numbers.

Any complex number can be written as therefore, taking logs means

But since can take on multiple values (we call them

Hence, we have the natural log of a complex number along the principal branch as:

where the capital L and A letters symbolise that we are taking the principal branch value.

Anyway, once we have this established, it is clear that for we have

If you want other branches, just add/subtract from the argument; hence really, it means that takes on infinitely many values of the form

where .

**RDKGames**)Yes, it's to do with complex numbers.

Any complex number can be written as therefore, taking logs means

But since can take on multiple values (we call them

*branches*) then we can agree on the so-called principal value of . This occurs when we only take the argument of to be over the intervalHence, we have the natural log of a complex number along the principal branch as:

where the capital L and A letters symbolise that we are taking the principal branch value.

Anyway, once we have this established, it is clear that for we have

If you want other branches, just add/subtract from the argument; hence really, it means that takes on infinitely many values of the form

where .

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#12

**RDKGames**)

Yes, it's to do with complex numbers.

Any complex number can be written as therefore, taking logs means

But since can take on multiple values (we call them

*branches*) then we can agree on the so-called principal value of . This occurs when we only take the argument of to be over the interval

Hence, we have the natural log of a complex number along the principal branch as:

where the capital L and A letters symbolise that we are taking the principal branch value.

Anyway, once we have this established, it is clear that for we have

If you want other branches, just add/subtract from the argument; hence really, it means that takes on infinitely many values of the form

where .

0

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