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In this notation, $f^k(x)$ means "apply $f$ $k$ times in succession". For example, $f^3(x)$ is defined to be $f(f(f(x)))$. Because of this definition $f^a(f^b(x)) = f^{a+b}(x)$ holds trivially (even though we known nothing else about $f$), as the the left side means "do $f$ $b$ times, and then do it $a$ times", while the right means "do $f$ $a+b$ times". ...

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