# Between two powers of an integer there is a power of two

Hi Everyone,

I am reading up on information theory, and every resource I have found on the topic which derives the form of entropy uses the following inequality as part of the proof.

Let $$n$$ be a fixed positive integer greater than 1. If $$r$$ is an arbitrary positive integer, then the number $$2^r$$ lies somewhere between two powers of $$n$$. i.e. There exists a positive integer $$k$$ such that

$$n^k\leq 2^r < n^{(k+1)}$$

However, none of them prove it and I am unclear how to do so. If anyone has any ideas on how to prove it, or topics I should look into which would make this inequality obvious I would really appreciate it.

CRGreathouse
Homework Helper
This is true for arbitrary integer sequences, not just powers of n (provided it increases without bound, and has a small enough member -- but those are obviously true for powers). Find the smallest member less than or equal to r, then choose the next one.

This is true for arbitrary integer sequences, not just powers of n (provided it increases without bound, and has a small enough member -- but those are obviously true for powers). Find the smallest member less than or equal to r, then choose the next one.

Sorry, could you explain a little by what you mean that it applies to arbitrary integer sequences as well? I am not clear why we want the smallest member less than or equal to $$r$$?

So pick $$r$$ and $$n$$ first. Now, look at $$2^r$$, and find the largest $$k$$ such that $$n^k\le2^r$$. Then the inequality holds.

Here's a quick&dirty explanation. Dividing through by $$n^k$$ you get
$$1\leq \frac {2^r}{n^k} < n \quad\quad\quad \mbox{(1)}$$

Now consider the binary representation of the fraction
$$\frac 1 {n^k}$$

This is less than 1, so it will begin by 0.xxx... You can shift left the bits in this representation until a 1 comes into the integer part (making it 1.xxx...). This new number is now between 1 and 2 (possibly equal to 1, but definitely less than 2). Let $$r$$ be the number of bits you shifted; then the shifted number is the fraction in inequality (1); and it is between 1 and 2. Since $$n \ge 2$$, the inequality holds.

another lazy way to see it is to take log to the base n of both sides, ,which reduces the question to finding a k such that

$$k \leq r \log_n 2< k+1$$

which is obviously possible.