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Section 3.1
Derivative of a Function
99
Chapter 3 Overview
In Chapter 2,we learned how to find the slope of a tangent to a curve as the limit of theslopes of secant lines. In Example 4 of Section 2.4,we derived a formula for the slope of the tangent at an arbitrary point
͑
a
,1
ր
a
͒
on the graph of the function
f
͑
x
͒
ϭ
1
ր
x
andshowed that it was
Ϫ
1
ր
a
2
.This seemingly unimportant result is more powerful than it might appear at first glance,as it gives us a simple way to calculate the instantaneous rate of change of
f
at any point.The study of rates of change of functions is called
differential calculus,
and the formula
Ϫ
1
ր
a
2
was our first look at a
derivative.
The derivative was the 17th-century breakthroughthat enabled mathematicians to unlock the secrets of planetary motion and gravitationalattraction—of objects changing position over time. We will learn many uses for deriva-tives in Chapter 4,but first we will concentrate in this chapter on understanding what de-rivatives are and how they work.
Derivative of a Function
Definition of Derivative
In Section 2.4,we defined the slope of a curve
y
ϭ
f
͑
x
͒
at the point where
x
ϭ
a
to be
m
ϭ
lim
h
0
f
͑
a
ϩ
hh
͒
Ϫ
f
͑
a
͒
.When it exists,this limit is called the
derivative of
at
a.
In this section,we investigatethe derivative as a
function
derived from
by considering the limit at each point of the do-main of
f.
3.1
• Definition of Derivative• Notation• Relationships between theGraphs of
and
Ј
• Graphing the Derivative fromData• One-sided Derivatives
. . . and why
The derivative gives the value ofthe slope of the tangent line to acurve at a point.
DEFINITION
Derivative
The
derivative
of the function
with respect to the variable
x
is the function
Ј
whose value at
x
is
f
Ј
͑
x
͒
ϭ
lim
h
0
f
͑
x
ϩ
hh
͒
Ϫ
f
͑
x
͒
,(1)provided the limit exists.
continued
The domain of
Ј
,the set of points in the domain of
for which the limit exists,may besmaller than the domain of
f.
If
Ј
͑
x
͒
exists,we say that
has a derivative (is differen-tiable)
at
x.
A function that is differentiable at every point of its domain is a
differentiablefunction.
EXAMPLE 1Applying the Definition
Differentiate (that is,find the derivative of)
͑
x
͒
ϭ
x
3
.

100
Chapter3
Derivatives
SOLUTION
Applying the definition,we have
f
Ј
͑
x
͒
ϭ
lim
h
0
f
͑
x
ϩ
hh
͒
Ϫ
f
͑
x
͒
ϭ
lim
h
0
͑
x
ϩ
hh
͒
3
Ϫ
x
3
ϭ
lim
h
0
ϭ
lim
h
0
͑
3
x
2
ϩ
3
x hh
ϩ
h
2
͒
h
ϭ
lim
h
0
͑
3
x
2
ϩ
3
xh
ϩ
h
2
͒
ϭ
3
x
2
.
Now try Exercise 1.
The derivative of
͑
x
͒
at a point where
x
ϭ
a
is found by taking the limit as
h
0 of slopes of secant lines,as shown in Figure 3.1.By relabeling the picture as in Figure 3.2,we arrive at a useful alternate formula forcalculating the derivative. This time,the limit is taken as
x
approaches
a.
͑
x
3
ϩ
3
x
2
h
ϩ
3
xh
2
ϩ
h
3
͒
Ϫ
x
3
ᎏᎏᎏ
h
͑
ϩ
͒
3
expanded
3
s cancelled,
factored out
After we find the derivative of
at a point
x
ϭ
a
using the alternate form,we can findthe derivative of
as a function by applying the resulting formula to an arbitrary
x
in thedomain of
f.
EXAMPLE 2Applying the Alternate Definition
Differentiate
f
͑
x
͒
ϭ
͙
x
ෆ
using the alternate definition.
SOLUTION
At the point
x
ϭ
a
,
f
Ј
͑
a
͒
ϭ
lim
x
a
f
͑
x  x
͒
ϪϪ
a f
͑
a
͒
ϭ
lim
x
a
͙
x
ෆ
x
ϪϪ
͙
aa
ෆ
Eq. 2 with
͑
͒
ϭ
ϭ
lim
x
a
͙
x
ෆ
x
ϪϪ
͙
aa
ෆ
͙ ͙
x
ෆ
x
ෆ
ϩϩ
͙ ͙
a
ෆ
a
ෆ
Rationalize…
ϭ
lim
x
a
…the numerator.
ϭ
lim
x
a
͙
x
ෆ
ϩ
1
͙
a
ෆ
We can now take the limit.
ϭ
2
͙
1
a
ෆ
.Applying this formula to an arbitrary
x
Ͼ
0 in the domain of
f
identifies the derivative asthe function
Ј
͑
x
͒
ϭ
1
ր
͑
2
͙
x
ෆ
͒
with domain
͑
0,
ϱ
͒
.
Now try Exercise 5.
x
Ϫ
a
ᎏᎏ
͑
x
Ϫ
a
͒͑
͙
x
ෆ
ϩ
͙
a
ෆ
͒

x  y
(
a
+
h
)
f
(
a
)
P
(
a, f
(
a
))
Q
(
a
+
h, f
(
a
+
h
))
y
=
(
x
)
x
ya a
+
hO
Figure 3.1
The slope of the secant line
PQ
is
y x
ϭ
f
͑
a
͑
a
ϩϩ
hh
͒͒
ϪϪ
f a
͑
a
͒
ϭ
f
͑
a
ϩ
hh
͒
Ϫ
f
͑
a
͒
.

x  y f
(
x
)
f
(
a
)
P
(
a, f
(
a
))
Q
(
x,
(
x
))
y
=
(
x
)
x
ya O
Figure 3.2
The slope of the secant line
PQ
is
y x
ϭ
f
͑
x  x
͒
ϪϪ
a f
͑
a
͒
.
DEFINITION (ALTERNATE)
Derivative at a Point
The
derivative
of the function
at the point
x a
is the limit
f
Ј
͑
a
͒
ϭ
lim
x
a
f
͑
x  x
͒
ϪϪ
a f
͑
a
͒
,(2)provided the limit exists.
Eq. 1 with
͑
x
͒
ϭ
3
,
͑
ϩ
͒
ϭ
͑
ϩ
͒
3

Section 3.1
Derivative of a Function
101
Notation
There are many ways to denote the derivative of a function
y
ϭ
f
͑
x
͒
. Besides
Ј
͑
x
͒
,themost common notations are these:
y
Ј
y
primeNice and brief,but does not namethe independent variable.
dy dx
or the derivativeNames both variables andof
y
with respect to
x
uses
for derivative.
df dx
or “the derivativeEmphasizes the function’s name.of
f
with respect to
x
f
͑
x
͒
ddx
of
at
x
or “the Emphasizes the idea that differentia-derivative of
at
x
tion is an operation performed on
f.
Relationships between the Graphs of
and
When we have the explicit formula for
͑
x
͒
,we can derive a formula for
Ј
͑
x
͒
using meth-ods like those in Examples 1 and 2. We have already seen,however,that functions are en-countered in other ways:graphically,for example,or in tables of data.Because we can think of the derivative at a point in graphical terms as
slope,
we can geta good idea of what the graph of the function
Ј
looks like by
estimating the slopes
at var-ious points along the graph of
f.
EXAMPLE 3GRAPHING
from
Graph the derivative of the function
whose graph is shown in Figure 3.3a. Discuss thebehavior of
in terms of the signs and values of
Ј
.
dx df
dx dy
dx
Why all the notation?
The “prime” notations
Ј
and
Ј
comefrom notations that Newton used forderivatives. The
ր
dx
notations aresimilar to those used by Leibniz. Eachhas its advantages and disadvantages.
x  y
2
A B D E
453–112(a)3567
y
=
f
(
x
)Slope 4Slope 1Slope 0Slope 0Slope –1Slope –14
y'
213
A'  B' C'  D'
(b)
E' F'
4–1123567
y'
=
f
(
x
)(slope)45
Figure 3.3
By plotting the slopes at points on the graph of
y
ϭ
f
͑
x
͒
,we obtain a graph of
y
Јϭ
f
Ј
͑
x
͒
. The slope at point
A
of the graph of
in part (a) is the
y
-coordinate of point
A
Ј
on thegraph of
Ј
in part (b),and so on. (Example 3)
SOLUTION
First,we draw a pair of coordinate axes,marking the horizontal axis in
x
-units and thevertical axis in slope units (Figure 3.3b). Next,we estimate the slope of the graph of
f
at various points,plotting the corresponding slope values using the new axes. At
A
͑
0,
͑
0
͒͒
,the graph of
has slope 4,so
f
Ј
͑
0
͒
ϭ
4. At
B
,the graph of
has slope 1,so
Јϭ
1 at
B
Ј
,and so on.
continued