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Thread: What's the little number?

  1. #1
    Oct 2008

    What's the little number?

    Usually when you have a power - for eg, 2 squared, the little power is at the top right hand corner of the number or letter for eg. R. What is it called and what does it mean when it is at the bottom right hand corner of the number?

    Is it called a subscript or superscript? And what is its purpose?

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  2. #2
    Super Member
    Jun 2008
    Superscript numbers or variables usually denotes an exponent. They are written on the upper right corner of a number/variable. For instance:

    $\displaystyle 2^3 = 2 \cdot 2 \cdot 2= 8$

    $\displaystyle 5^2 = 5 \cdot 5 = 25$

    $\displaystyle x^3 = x \cdot x \cdot x$

    Subscript numbers or letters usually denote another variable. Like, in physics:

    $\displaystyle V_f$ denotes the final speed of a moving object.
    $\displaystyle V_i$ denotes the initial speed of a moving object.

    Subscript numbers may indicate the rank of a term in a sequence. For the sequence:

    $\displaystyle \{1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ...\}$

    $\displaystyle t_1$ refers to the first term of the sequence (1)

    $\displaystyle t_6$ refers to the sixth term of the sequence (8)

    EDIT: I just want to add that there can be more meanings to subscripts. It depends in what situation does subscript numbers appear.
    Last edited by Chop Suey; Oct 17th 2008 at 03:55 AM.
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