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-3^2 powers

  1. Nov 26, 2009 #1
    I thought powers were things like (using the example in the title): -3 * -3 = 9

    But when I enter -3^2 in my calculator, I get -9. I thought a negative multiplied by a negative was a positive. What's going on here?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2009 #2
    Re: -3^2

    It squares the three before multiplying by negative one.

    (-3)2 = (-3)(-3) = 9
    -32 = -(3)(3) = -9
     
  4. Nov 26, 2009 #3

    Doc Al

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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: -3^2

    The calculator assumes that you mean -32, not (-3)2. Try entering 3, then using the +/- key to change its sign, then hit the square key.
     
  5. Nov 26, 2009 #4
    Re: -3^2

    Ah, I see! Thanks very much!
     
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