# What Are Logarithms

By: Bildagentur Zoonar

A logarithm is a mathematical operation that determines how many times a certain number, called the base, is multiplied by itself to reach another number. Because logarithms relate geometric progressions to arithmetic progressions, examples are found throughout nature and art, such as the spacing of guitar frets, mineral hardness, and the intensities of sounds, stars, windstorms, earthquakes and acids. Logarithms even describe how humans instinctively think about numbers.

Logarithms were invented in the 17th century as a calculation tool by Scottish mathematician John Napier (1550 to 1617), who coined the term from the Greek words for ratio (logos) and number (arithmos). Before the invention of mechanical (and later electronic) calculators, logarithms were extremely important for simplifying computations found in astronomy, navigation, surveying, and later engineering.

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