The Power of Exponentials, Big and Small

MIT Blossoms

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Exponential growth is keenly applicable to a variety of different fields ranging from cell growth in biology, nuclear chain reactions in physics to computational complexity in computer science. In this lesson, through various examples and activities, we have tried to compare exponential growth to polynomial growth and to develop an insight about how quickly the number can grow or decay in exponentials. A basic knowledge of scientific notation, plotting graphs and finding intersection of two functions is assumed. It would be better if the students have done pre-calculus, though this is not a requirement. The lesson is about 20 minutes, interspersed with simple activities that can require up to half an hour. We hope that all our viewers—teachers and students—enjoy watching the lecture and reflect on the magnitude of growth and decay of exponential functions.

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