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This always pisses me off. what is -X^n?

  1. Aug 11, 2011 #1
    i see things along the lines of -X^n quite frequently.

    is this meant to represent (-X)^n or -(X^n)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2011 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    The second - -(X^n)
  4. Aug 11, 2011 #3


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    Science Advisor

    Precedence of Operations: "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally"
    First do what every is in parentheses, then exponents, then multiplication, then division, then addition, then subtraction. (Of course, you can interchange multiplication and division and interchange additon and subtraction.)

    The negative in [itex]-x^n[/itex] represents multiplication by -1. Since exponents take precedenct that is [itex]-(x^n)[/itex] as Mark44 said.
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