Building blocks

## Log tables

Here is a question from a 1952 O-level exam paper:

Calculate, correct to three significant figures, $\frac{1{\cdot}152\times(3{\cdot}902)^3}{(5{\cdot}463)^2} .$

This is relatively straightforward to do using a calculator.

But electronic calculators only became commonly available from the late 1970s, so how did students of the 1950s answer a question like this?

They used logarithm tables (usually called “log tables”) where we would now use calculators, and in this resource we will explore how logarithms can help us to do calculations.

We’ll start with something simpler, and look at the exam question in a later section.

Use logarithm tables to evaluate, correct to three significant figures, $336\times6290 .$

We will do this in a series of steps.

How have these logarithm tables made the calculations easier than they would be using other pencil-and-paper methods?