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Example of a very large whole number: 100,000,000,000

Example of a very small decimal number: .000000000006

Electrical measurements often involve large whole numbers or small decimal numbers.

Working with large whole numbers and small decimal numbers can be time-consuming. Also,

using numbers with many zeros may lead to mistakes. Powers of 10 are used to express

large whole numbers and small decimal numbers as equivalent numbers containing only a

few digits. Obviously, numbers containing fewer digits are easier to use.

Powers of 10 involve the use of exponents. An exponent is a small number written above and

to the right of a number which is the base number. The exponent indicates the number of

times the base is to be taken as a factor.

For example: 103 = 10 X 10 X 10 1,000.

Multiples of 10, greater than one, can be expressed as the base 10 with a positive exponent.

For example: 10 = 101

100 = 102

1,000 = 103, etc.

Multiples of 10, between 0 and 1, can be expressed as the base 10 with a negative exponent.

For example: .1 = 10-1

.01 = 10-2

.001 = 10-3, etc.

The base 10, written without an exponent, actually has an exponent of 1.

Thus, 10 = 101.

The base 10, with an exponent of zero, is equal to one. Thus, 100 = 1.