# Thread: Significance or function of '^' in a formula?

1. ## Significance or function of '^' in a formula?

Hi. Today I downloaded an Excel mortgage calculator. Not a big deal and BTW it works just great.
I noticed though that some cell formula have this symbol '^' included in places where I would expect a /,*,-, or +.

Anyone know what ^ does?

2. Hi

The caret symbol "^" is used to denote Power.

=2^2 is 2 to the power of 2, or 2 squared which is 4
= 2^3 is to to the power of 3 or 8
= 2^4 is to to the power of 4 or 16

It is a convenient notation as opposed to using the inbuilt POWER() function in Excel
=POWER(2,3) would also result in 8

3. In a formula, the "^" indicates an exponential function. For example 5^2 represents 5 to the second power and results in a value of 25. It can be read as "number to the power of". In a cell value that is text it has no representation. Example: if the contents of cell A1= "five ^ two" then it is a text value and not a value that is evaluated, therefore, "^" has no algebraic value.

HTH,
Maud

4. Sorry, Roger. You posted while I was composing. Ditto everything you said!

5. Hi Maud, Absolutely no need to apologise. That often happens.

6. Thank you everyone. You have done a super job of explaining this to me and I have added to my understanding of an area that was never a strong suit.

7. I don't use Excel so don't know if this is still valid, but it could be in other applications: you'll sometimes see a double asterisk (**) in an equation. It has the same meaning.

8. Personally, a long-standing issue in mathematics. We have symbols for add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Why not one for exponentiation? Obviously, linear software like Excel and calculators needed to invent one (or more -- just to further add to the confusion).

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