**power function**is a function with a single term that is the product of a real number, a

**coefficient,**and a variable raised to a fixed real number. (A number that multiplies a variable raised to an exponent is known as a coefficient.) As an example, consider functions for area or volume. The function for the

**area of a circle**with radius [latex]r[/latex] is

and the function for the **volume of a sphere** with radius [latex]r[/latex] is

Both of these are examples of power functions because they consist of a coefficient, [latex]\pi [/latex] or [latex]\frac{4}{3}\pi [/latex], multiplied by a variable [latex]r[/latex] raised to a power.

### A General Note: Power Function

A **power function** is a function that can be represented in the form

where *k* and *p* are real numbers, and *k* is known as the **coefficient**.

### Q & A

**Is [latex]f\left(x\right)={2}^{x}[/latex] a power function?**

*No. A power function contains a variable base raised to a fixed power. This function has a constant base raised to a variable power. This is called an exponential function, not a power function.*

### Example 1: Identifying Power Functions

Which of the following functions are power functions?

[latex]begin{cases}f\left(x\right)=1hfill & text{Constant function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)=xhfill & text{Identify function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)={x}^{2}hfill & text{Quadratic}text{ }text{ function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)={x}^{3}hfill & text{Cubic function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)=\frac{1}{x} hfill & text{Reciprocal function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)=\frac{1}{{x}^{2}}hfill & text{Reciprocal squared function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)=sqrt{x}hfill & text{Square root function}hfill \ f\left(x\right)=sqrt[3]{x}hfill & text{Cube root function}hfill end{cases}[/latex]

### Solution

All of the listed functions are power functions.

The constant and identity functions are power functions because they can be written as [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{0}[/latex] and [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{1}[/latex] respectively.

The quadratic and cubic functions are power functions with whole number powers [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{2}[/latex] and [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{3}[/latex].

The **reciprocal** and reciprocal squared functions are power functions with negative whole number powers because they can be written as [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{-1}[/latex] and [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{-2}[/latex].

The square and **cube root** functions are power functions with \fractional powers because they can be written as [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{1/2}[/latex] or [latex]f\left(x\right)={x}^{1/3}[/latex].

### Try It 1

Which functions are power functions?

[latex]f\left(x\right)=2{x}^{2}\cdot4{x}^{3}[/latex]

[latex]g\left(x\right)=-{x}^{5}+5{x}^{3}-4x[/latex]

[latex]h\left(x\right)=\frac{2{x}^{5}-1}{3{x}^{2}+4}[/latex]

Solution