Simplifying Exponential Expressions

Recall that to simplify an expression means to rewrite it by combing terms or exponents; in other words, to write the expression more simply with fewer terms. The rules for exponents may be combined to simplify expressions.

Example 9: Simplifying Exponential Expressions

Simplify each expression and write the answer with positive exponents only.

1. ${\left(6{m}^{2}{n}^{-1}\right)}^{3}$
2. ${17}^{5}\cdot {17}^{-4}\cdot {17}^{-3}$
3. ${\left(\frac{{u}^{-1}v}{{v}^{-1}}\right)}^{2}$
4. $\left(-2{a}^{3}{b}^{-1}\right)\left(5{a}^{-2}{b}^{2}\right)$
5. ${\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{4}{\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{-4}$
6. $\frac{{\left(3{w}^{2}\right)}^{5}}{{\left(6{w}^{-2}\right)}^{2}}$

Solution

1. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill {\left(6{m}^{2}{n}^{-1}\right)}^{3}& =& {\left(6\right)}^{3}{\left({m}^{2}\right)}^{3}{\left({n}^{-1}\right)}^{3}\hfill & \text{The power of a product rule}\hfill \\ & =& {6}^{3}{m}^{2\cdot 3}{n}^{-1\cdot 3}\hfill & \text{The power rule}\hfill \\ & =& \text{ }216{m}^{6}{n}^{-3}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \\ & =& \frac{216{m}^{6}}{{n}^{3}}\hfill & \text{The negative exponent rule}\hfill \end{array}$
2. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill {17}^{5}\cdot {17}^{-4}\cdot {17}^{-3}& =& {17}^{5 - 4-3}\hfill & \text{The product rule}\hfill \\ & =& {17}^{-2}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \\ & =& \frac{1}{{17}^{2}}\text{ or }\frac{1}{289}\hfill & \text{The negative exponent rule}\hfill \end{array}$
3. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill {\left(\frac{{u}^{-1}v}{{v}^{-1}}\right)}^{2}& =& \frac{{\left({u}^{-1}v\right)}^{2}}{{\left({v}^{-1}\right)}^{2}}\hfill & \text{The power of a quotient rule}\hfill \\ & =& \frac{{u}^{-2}{v}^{2}}{{v}^{-2}}\hfill & \text{The power of a product rule}\hfill \\ & =& {u}^{-2}{v}^{2-\left(-2\right)}& \text{The quotient rule}\hfill \\ & =& {u}^{-2}{v}^{4}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \\ & =& \frac{{v}^{4}}{{u}^{2}}\hfill & \text{The negative exponent rule}\hfill \end{array}$
4. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill \left(-2{a}^{3}{b}^{-1}\right)\left(5{a}^{-2}{b}^{2}\right)& =& -2\cdot 5\cdot {a}^{3}\cdot {a}^{-2}\cdot {b}^{-1}\cdot {b}^{2}\hfill & \text{Commutative and associative laws of multiplication}\hfill \\ & =& -10\cdot {a}^{3 - 2}\cdot {b}^{-1+2}\hfill & \text{The product rule}\hfill \\ & =& -10ab\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \end{array}$
5. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill {\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{4}{\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{-4}& =& {\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{4 - 4}\hfill & \text{The product rule}\hfill \\ & =& \text{ }{\left({x}^{2}\sqrt{2}\right)}^{0}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \\ & =& 1\hfill & \text{The zero exponent rule}\hfill \end{array}$
6. $\begin{array}{cccc}\hfill \frac{{\left(3{w}^{2}\right)}^{5}}{{\left(6{w}^{-2}\right)}^{2}}& =& \frac{{\left(3\right)}^{5}\cdot {\left({w}^{2}\right)}^{5}}{{\left(6\right)}^{2}\cdot {\left({w}^{-2}\right)}^{2}}\hfill & \text{The power of a product rule}\hfill \\ & =& \frac{{3}^{5}{w}^{2\cdot 5}}{{6}^{2}{w}^{-2\cdot 2}}\hfill & \text{The power rule}\hfill \\ & =& \frac{243{w}^{10}}{36{w}^{-4}}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \\ & =& \frac{27{w}^{10-\left(-4\right)}}{4}\hfill & \text{The quotient rule and reduce fraction}\hfill \\ & =& \frac{27{w}^{14}}{4}\hfill & \text{Simplify}.\hfill \end{array}$

Try It 9

Simplify each expression and write the answer with positive exponents only.

a. ${\left(2u{v}^{-2}\right)}^{-3}$
b. ${x}^{8}\cdot {x}^{-12}\cdot x$
c. ${\left(\frac{{e}^{2}{f}^{-3}}{{f}^{-1}}\right)}^{2}$
d. $\left(9{r}^{-5}{s}^{3}\right)\left(3{r}^{6}{s}^{-4}\right)$
e. ${\left(\frac{4}{9}t{w}^{-2}\right)}^{-3}{\left(\frac{4}{9}t{w}^{-2}\right)}^{3}$
f. $\frac{{\left(2{h}^{2}k\right)}^{4}}{{\left(7{h}^{-1}{k}^{2}\right)}^{2}}$

Solution