I am trying to show that $\forall \beta \gt0, \log(n^\alpha) = O(n^\beta)$, however I cannot use the limit definition, as demonstrated in similar questions on the forum.

First I show that $\log(n^\alpha) = O(n)$, using the following method:

$\log(n^\alpha) = \alpha \cdot \log(n) \leq \alpha \cdot n$ Thus for $c=\alpha^\alpha, n_0=0$, we have $(\log(n))^\alpha \leq c \cdot n$ which implies $\log(n^\alpha) = O(n)$

Now I will show $\forall \beta \gt0, \log(n^\alpha) = O(n^\beta)$, we have two cases

$\beta \ge 1$: Since $\forall n \ge1, n\leq n^\beta$, then from the above result, for $c=\alpha^\alpha, n_0 = 1$, we have $\log(n^\alpha) \le c \cdot n^\beta$ which implies $\log(n^\alpha) = O(n^\beta)$

$0 \lt \beta \lt 1$: I can't seem to find a series of inequalities, as shown above, that prove $\log(n^\alpha) =O(n^\beta)$ in this case

  • $\begingroup$ Try using the limit definition of big-O instead, and applying Lhopital's rule $\endgroup$
    – nir shahar
    Apr 30, 2021 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ @nirshahar we are not allowed to use the limit definition in our course $\endgroup$ Apr 30, 2021 at 9:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why are you not allowed to use limits? If $f(n)=O(g(n))$ in limit definition then $f(n)=O(g(n))$ also in the definition with $n_0$ and $c$. $\endgroup$
    – Steven
    Apr 30, 2021 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ You can always establish that $\lim_{n \to \infty} \frac{(\log n)^\alpha}{n^\beta} = 0$ and then formally show that this implies the existence of a $n_0$ and of a $c>0$ such that $(\log n)^\alpha < c n^\beta$ for any $n \ge n_0$. $\endgroup$
    – Steven
    Apr 30, 2021 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ I think you mean $\beta \gt 0$ @Steven (mentioned and proved here cs.stackexchange.com/questions/139476/…). One more: I have doubt, that someone who reject Lhopital, accept derivative. $\endgroup$
    – zkutch
    Apr 30, 2021 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


You can use the following identities: $$ (\ln n)^a \le n^\beta \iff \ln (\ln n)^a \le \ln n^\beta \iff a \ln \ln n \le \beta \ln n. $$

This is trivial if $\alpha \le 0$, so we consider the case $\alpha > 0$.

For simplicity substitute $t= \ln \ln n$ and $\gamma = \frac{\alpha}{\beta}$. Notice that $\gamma \ge 0$. We obtain: $ \gamma t \le e^t \iff \gamma t - e^t \le 0 $

To show that $\alpha t \le \beta e^t$ for sufficiently large $t$, we take the derivative of $h(t) = \gamma t - e^t$: $$ h'(t) =\gamma - e^t. $$

This shows that for $t \ge \ln \gamma$, $h(t)$ is monotonically non-increasing. Moreover, for $t=\ln \gamma$ we already have $h(t) \le 0$, indeed $h(\ln \gamma) =\ln \gamma-\gamma \le 0$ since the logarithm is a monotonically increasing function.

Hence, in the definition of big-Oh with $n_0$ and $c$, we can pick $n_0 = \ln \gamma = \ln \frac{\alpha}{\beta}$ and $c=1$.


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