June 14, 2013

I have long lamented The Post’s tolerance of unwarranted uses of the term “exponential growth.” So I was interested to see Paul Bennett point out [“Where X = less than you’d think,” Free for All, June 1] misuse of the term in a recent Post article and then to see Richard Stone Rothblum correct Bennett for his lack of recognition that compound growth is exponential growth [“Growth of a mathematical term,” Free for All, June 8]. But Rothblum went too far when he asserted that “it is nearly impossible to overuse the term.”

The term has a specific meaning. It shouldn’t be confused with “large,” “a lot” or “tremendous,” and it shouldn’t be used if it’s not clear that one is describing exponential growth. No matter how great the growth, it is impossible to know whether it is exponential on the basis of two data points alone — something that many writers overlook. A plea to The Post: Stop using “exponential” as if it simply meant “large” or “a lot.”

Donald E. Metz, Silver Spring

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