3 min read Jun 17, 2024

Understanding the Power of a Power: (x^a)^b = x^(ab)

In the realm of mathematics, the power of a power rule is a fundamental concept that simplifies expressions involving exponents. This rule states that raising a power to another power is equivalent to multiplying the exponents. Let's break down this concept and explore why it holds true.

The Intuition Behind the Rule

Imagine you have a base 'x' raised to the power 'a'. This means 'x' is multiplied by itself 'a' times:

x^a = x * x * x * ... (a times)

Now, let's raise this entire expression to the power 'b'. This essentially means multiplying the entire expression (x^a) by itself 'b' times:

(x^a)^b = (x^a) * (x^a) * (x^a) * ... (b times)

Expanding this, we get:

(x^a)^b = (x * x * x * ... (a times)) * (x * x * x * ... (a times)) * ... (b times)

Notice that 'x' is now multiplied by itself 'a' times, and this entire multiplication happens 'b' times. In total, 'x' is multiplied by itself 'a * b' times. This leads us to the conclusion:

(x^a)^b = x^(ab)


Let's illustrate this with an example:

(2^3)^2 = 2^(3*2) = 2^6 = 64

Here, we raised 2^3 (which is 2 * 2 * 2 = 8) to the power 2. Applying the power of a power rule, we multiply the exponents 3 and 2 to get 6. Therefore, (2^3)^2 is equivalent to 2^6, which equals 64.

Applications of the Power of a Power Rule

This rule is essential in simplifying complex expressions involving exponents. It finds applications in various areas of mathematics, including:

  • Algebraic manipulation: Simplifying expressions involving nested exponents.
  • Calculus: Differentiating and integrating functions involving powers.
  • Scientific notation: Expressing very large or small numbers using exponents.


The power of a power rule is a powerful tool for manipulating exponents. Understanding this concept provides a solid foundation for solving complex mathematical problems. Remember, when you raise a power to another power, simply multiply the exponents to simplify the expression.

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