Exponential decay

A quantity is subject to exponential decay if it decreases at a rate proportional to its current value. Symbolically, this process can be expressed by the following differential equation, where N is the quantity and λ (lambda) is a positive rate called the exponential decay constant:

A quantity undergoing exponential decay. Larger decay constants make the quantity vanish much more rapidly. This plot shows decay for decay constant (λ) of 25, 5, 1, 1/5, and 1/25 for x from 0 to 5.

The solution to this equation (see derivation below) is:

where N(t) is the quantity at time t, N0 = N(0) is the initial quantity, that is, the quantity at time t = 0, and the constant λ is called the decay constant, disintegration constant,[1] rate constant,[2] or transformation constant.[3]