Is the purpose of the derivative notation d/dx strictly for symbolic manipulation purposes?
I remember being confused when I first saw the notation for derivatives - it looks vaguely like there's some division going on and there are some fancy 'd' characters that are added in... I recall thinking that it was a lot of characters to represent an action with respect to one variable. Of course, once you start moving the dx around it makes a little more sense as to why they exist - but is this the only reason?
Any history lesson or examples where this notation is helpful or unhelpful is appreciated.