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Given a plot of a function $f(x)$ (no closed-form formulation is not known) how to find at which points it is differentiable ?

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    $\begingroup$ Define plot, please. $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Oct 26 '13 at 13:39
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What can be done with a computer is convolute the function (numerically) with a Gaussian and set up a threshold for the difference between the original and the smoothed. The picture below shows that it is possible in this way to detect places where the function is "less differentiable". It's no way better than approximately, but what else can be expected if differentiability is to be observed from a graph. The smoothed function is, theoretically (with "Gaussian blur"): $$ \overline{f}(x) = \frac{1}{\sigma\sqrt{2\pi}} \int_{-\infty}^{+\infty} e^{-\frac{1}{2}(x-t)^2/\sigma^2} f(t)\, dt$$ The integral will become a finite sum upon discretization (Instead of the Gaussian, any other decent "hat function" can be used) From the left to the right: $y=x^2$, $y = |x|$, Heaviside, delta function. Smoothing
Or did you simply mean: by human inspection? Then forget everything I've said :-(

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You mean based merely on visual information alone ? Look for variations in the shape of the curve (on certain intervals), and check for discontinuities.

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As Lucian said, look for discontinuities, sharp corners, places where the tangent line is vertical, etc. Here is a page that goes through some examples.

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  • $\begingroup$ i think you can not.. assume a discontinuity poitn at ceratin value 'a' so for any positive $ \epsilon $ we hve $ f(x+ \epsilon)= 10^{-30000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000}+f(x-\epsilon) $ $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '13 at 20:16

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