Questions on the evaluation of derivatives or problems involving derivatives (for example, use of the mean value theorem).

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151
votes
6answers
11k views

Why does this matrix give the derivative of a function?

I happened to stumble upon the following matrix: $$ A = \begin{bmatrix} a & 1 \\ 0 & a \end{bmatrix} $$ And after trying a bunch of different examples, I noticed the ...
132
votes
1answer
7k views

How discontinuous can a derivative be?

There is a well-known result in elementary analysis due to Darboux which says if $f$ is a differentiable function then $f'$ satisfies the intermediate value property. To my knowledge, not many ...
115
votes
5answers
3k views

Why can't differentiability be generalized as nicely as continuity?

The question: Can we define differentiable functions between (some class of) sets, "without $\Bbb R$"* so that it Reduces to the traditional definition when desired? Has the same use in at least ...
89
votes
6answers
10k views

What did Alan Turing mean when he said he didn't fully understand dy/dx?

Alan Turing's notebook has recently been sold at an auction house in London. In it he says this: Written out: The Leibniz notation $\frac{\mathrm{d}y}{\mathrm{d}x}$ I find extremely difficult ...
75
votes
7answers
3k views

Does L'Hôpital's work the other way?

Hello fellows, As referred in Wikipedia (see the specified criteria there), L'Hôpital's rule says, $$ \lim_{x\to c}\frac{f(x)}{g(x)}=\lim_{x\to c}\frac{f'(x)}{g'(x)} $$ As $$ \lim_{x\to ...
60
votes
4answers
16k views

Construct a function which is continuous in $[1,5]$ but not differentiable at $2, 3, 4$

Construct a function which is continuous in $[1,5]$ but not differentiable at $2, 3, 4$. This question is just after the definition of differentiation and the theorem that if $f$ is finitely ...
57
votes
1answer
3k views

Thurston's 37th way of thinking about the derivative

In Thurston's superb essay On proof and progress in mathematics, he makes this observation: Of course there is always another subtlety to be gleaned, but I would like to at least think that I ...
53
votes
8answers
29k views

Why is the derivative of a circle's area its perimeter (and similarly for spheres)?

When differentiated with respect to $r$, the derivative of $\pi r^2$ is $2 \pi r$, which is the circumference of a circle. Similarly, when the formula for a sphere's volume $\frac{4}{3} \pi r^3$ is ...
52
votes
7answers
8k views

100-th derivative of a function

I've got this task I'm not able to solve. So i need to find the 100-th derivative of $$f(x)=e^{x}\cos(x)$$ where $x=\pi$. I've tried using Leibniz's formula but it got me nowhere, induction doesn't ...
51
votes
6answers
5k views

Is there a function whose antiderivative can be found but whose derivative cannot?

Does a function, $f(x)$, exist such that $\int f(x) dx $ can be found but $f' (x)$ cannot be found in terms of elementary functions. For example, if $f(x)=e^{x^2}$, then the derivative is easily ...
46
votes
1answer
2k views

The $100$th derivative of $(x^2 + 1)/(x^3 - x)$

I am reading a collection of problems by the Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnol'd, titled A Mathematical Trivium. I am taking a stab at this one: Calculate the $100$th derivative of the function ...
43
votes
11answers
4k views

Which of the numbers $1, 2^{1/2}, 3^{1/3}, 4^{1/4}, 5^{1/5}, 6^{1/6} , 7^{1/7}$ is largest, and how to find out without calculator?

$1, 2^{1/2}, 3^{1/3}, 4^{1/4}, 5^{1/5}, 6^{1/6} , 7^{1/7}$. I got this question in an Application of Derivatives test. I think log might be used here to compare the values, but even then the values ...
43
votes
15answers
9k views

What are “instantaneous” rates of change, really?

Here's how I see it (please read the following if you can, because I address a lot of arguments people have already made): Let's take instantaneous speed, for example. If it's truly instantaneous, ...
40
votes
6answers
3k views

Which derivatives are eventually periodic?

Which derivatives are eventually periodic? I have noticed that is $a_{n}=f^{(n)}(x)$, the sequence $a_{n}$ becomes eventually periodic for a multitude of $f(x)$. If $f(x)$ was a polynomial, and ...
39
votes
3answers
3k views

Why, although these functions have the same derivative, do they not differ by a constant?

I calculated the derivative of $\arctan\left(\frac{1+x}{1-x}\right)$ to be $\frac{1}{1+x^2}$. This is the same as $(\arctan)'$. Why is there no $c$ that satisfies $\arctan\left(\frac{1+x}{1-x}\right) ...
39
votes
3answers
1k views

Function that is the sum of all of its derivatives

I have just started learning about differential equations, as a result I started to think about this question but couldn't get anywhere. So I googled and wasn't able to find any particularly helpful ...
37
votes
7answers
11k views

What function can be differentiated twice, but not 3 times?

In complex analysis class professor said that in complex analysis if a function is differentiable once, it can be differentiated infinite number of times. In real analysis there are cases where a ...
37
votes
16answers
4k views

Why does the derivative of sine only work for radians?

I'm still struggling to understand why the derivative of sine only works for radians. I had always thought that radians and degrees were both arbitrary units of measurement, and just now I'm ...
37
votes
13answers
3k views

Why do differentiation rules work? What's the intuition behind them? (Not asking for proofs)

Differentiation rules have been bugging me ever since I took Basic Calculus. I thought I'd develop some intuitive understanding of them eventually, but so far all my other math courses (including ...
37
votes
8answers
9k views

When to Stop Using L'Hôpital's Rule

I don't understand something about L'Hôpital's rule. In this case: $$ \begin{align} & {{}\phantom{=}}\lim_{x\to0}\frac{e^x-1-x^2}{x^4+x^3+x^2} \\[8pt] & ...
36
votes
2answers
21k views

Discontinuous derivative.

Could someone give an example of a ‘very’ discontinuous derivative? I myself can only come up with examples where the derivative is discontinuous at only one point. I am assuming the function is ...
33
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it necessary that every function is a derivative of some function?

I thought about this a lot and consulted a lot of people but everyone had contradicting answers. I am a high school student. please help.
32
votes
6answers
4k views

Function whose third derivative is itself.

I'm looking for a function $f$, whose third derivative is $f$ itself, while the first derivative isn't. Is there any such function? Which one(s)? If not, how can we prove that there is none? Notes: ...
32
votes
1answer
719 views

How to show that $f'(x)<2f(x)$

I would appreciate if somebody could help me with the following problem: Q: Let $f(x),f'(x),f''(x),f'''(x)>0$ , $f'''(x)$ is a continuous function and $f'''(x)<f(x)$ on $\mathbb{R}$ then ...
32
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the derivative of: $f(x)=x^{2x^{3x^{4x^{5x^{6x^{7x^{.{^{.^{.}}}}}}}}}}$?

I happened to ponder about the differentiation of the following function: $$f(x)=x^{2x^{3x^{4x^{5x^{6x^{7x^{.{^{.^{.}}}}}}}}}}$$ Now, while I do know how to manipulate power towers to a certain ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

Notation of the second derivative - Where does the d go?

In school I was taught that we use $\frac{du}{dx}$ as a notation for the first derivative of a function $u(x)$. I was also told that we could use the $d$ just like any variable. After some time we ...
29
votes
9answers
2k views

How is the derivative truly, literally the “best linear approximation” near a point?

I've read many times that the derivative of a function $f(x)$ for a certain $x$ is the best linear approximation of the function for values near $x$. I always thought it was meant in a hand-waving ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

How is the derivative geometrically inverse of integral?

I know that derivative is the slope of the tangent line, and that integral is the area under the curve. My question is that how these two distinct concepts are geometrically related? What is the ...
28
votes
10answers
13k views

Why do we require radians in calculus?

I think this is just something I've grown used to but can't remember any proof. When differentiating and integrating with trigonometric functions, we require angles to be taken in radians. Why does ...
28
votes
5answers
4k views

Are there ways of finding the $n$-th derivative of a function without computing the $(n-1)$-th derivative?

Say we have a function $f(x)$ that is infinitely differentiable at some point. Is it possible to find $f^{(n)}(x)$ without having to find first $f^{(n-1)}(x)$? If so, does it take less effort than ...
27
votes
7answers
3k views

Why does the fundamental theorem of calculus work?

I've known for some time that one of the fundamental theorems of calculus states: $$ \int_{a}^{b}\ f'(x){\mathrm{d} x} = f(b)-f(a) $$ Despite using this formula, I've yet to see a proof or even a ...
27
votes
5answers
30k views

What exactly is the difference between a derivative and a total derivative?

I am not too grounded in differentiation but today, I was posed with a supposedly easy question $w = f(x,y) = x^2 + y^2$ where $x = r\sin\theta $ and $y = r\cos\theta$ requiring the solution to ...
26
votes
3answers
4k views

Do “other” trigonometric functions than Tan Sin Cos and their derivatives exist?

I remember my physics teacher mentioning that other trigonometric functions exist apart from the Sin Cos and Tan, he mentioned a few and they did not sound familiar, nothing like Sec Csc and Cot. I ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

Uses of $\lim \limits_{h\to 0} \frac{f(x+h)-f(x-h)}{2h}$

I have been wondering whether the following limit is being used somehow, as a variation of the derivative: $$\lim_{h\to 0} \frac{f(x+h)-f(x-h)}{2h} .$$ Edit: I know that this limit is defined in ...
25
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there any function which grows 'slower' than its derivative?

Does a function $f: \mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}$ such that $f'(x) > f(x) > 0$ exist? Intuitively, I think it can't exist. I've tried finding the answer using the definition of ...
24
votes
1answer
18k views

Derivative of Softmax loss function

I am trying to wrap my head around back-propagation in a neural network with a Softmax classifier, which uses the Softmax function: \begin{equation} p_j = \frac{e^{o_j}}{\sum_k e^{o_k}} ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

Geometric interpretation of mixed partial derivatives?

I'm looking for a geometric interpretation of this theorem: My book doesn't give any kind of explanation of it. Again, I'm not looking for a proof - I'm looking for a geometric interpretation. ...
24
votes
2answers
836 views

What is the derivative of ${}^xx$

How would one find: $$\frac{\mathrm d}{\mathrm dx}{}^xx?$$ where ${}^ba$ is defined by $${}^ba\stackrel{\mathrm{def}}{=}\underbrace{ a^{a^{\cdot^{\cdot^{\cdot^a}}}}}_{\text{$b$ times}}$$ Work so ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

$n^{th}$ derivative of a tetration function

I stumbled upon this very peculiar function last summer, namely: $f(x)=x^{x^{x^{...^{x}}}}$, where there is a number $n$ of $x$'s in the exponent, I tried to find the derivative for the function and I ...
23
votes
1answer
464 views

Function's analytic continuation is its own derivative

This is the question we were asked at the university by our professor for complex analysis. Not as an exam, but as a challenge. I don't think he knew the answer himself. Find a nontrivial example of ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Proof derivative equals zero?

I know this must be wrong, but I am confused as to where the mathematical fallacy lies. Here is the 'proof': $$f '(x) = \lim_{ h\to0}\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}$$ L'Hôpital's Rule (The previous limit was ...
22
votes
2answers
9k views

Differentiating an Inner Product

If $(V, \langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle)$ is a finite-dimensional inner product space and $f,g : \mathbb{R} \longrightarrow V$ are differentiable functions, a straightforward calculation with components ...
22
votes
1answer
590 views

Derivative of the Meijer G-function with respect to one of its parameters

Are there any approaches that allow to find a derivative of the Meijer G-function with respect to one of its parameters in a closed form (or at least numerically with a high precision and in ...
22
votes
2answers
618 views

Ramanujan style nested differential Equation

So I was exploring some math the other day... and I came across the following neat identity: Given $y$ is a function of $x$ ($y(x)$) and $$ y = 1 + \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}x} \left(1 + ...
21
votes
4answers
4k views

“What if” math joke: the derivative of $\ln(x)^e$

Randall Munroe, the creator of xkcd in his latest book What if writes (p. 175) that the mathematical analog of the phrase "knock me over with a feather" is seeing the expression $ \ln( x )^{e}$. And ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Can someone provide the formal definition of the tangent line to a curve?

I was recently explaining differentiation from first principles to a colleague and how differentiation can be used to obtain the tangent line to a curve at any point. While doing this, my colleague ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Any ideas on how I can prove this expression?

I don't have a lot of places to turn because i am still in high school. So please bear with me as i had to create some notation. In order to understand my notation you must observe this identity for ...
20
votes
2answers
503 views

When does $(uv)'=u'v'?$ [duplicate]

In any calculus course, one of the first thing we learn is that $(uv)'=u'v+v'u$ rather than the what I've written in the title. This got me wondering: when is this dream product rule true? There are ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there any meaning to an “infinite derivative”?

I've been thinking about this: say you have an infinitely differentiable function. Then you can form a sequence $f(x), f'(x), f''(x), \cdots, f^{(n)}(x), \cdots$ and attempt to take its limit. For ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Is a differentiable function on $(-2, 4)$ always integrable on $[-2, 4]$?

So my question is, say I have a function that is differentiable on $(-2, 4)$. Is it always integrable on $[-2, 4]$? I know that if $f$ is diff on $(-2, 4)$, then it is continuous on $(-2, 4)$. And I ...