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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

ᎏ

f

͑

a

ϩ

hh

͒

Ϫ

f

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

.When it exists,this limit is called the

derivative of

f

at

a.

In this section,we investigatethe derivative as a

function

derived from

f

by considering the limit at each point of the do-main of

f.

3.1

What you’ll learn about

• Definition of Derivative• Notation• Relationships between theGraphs of

f

and

f

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

f

with respect to the variable

x

is the function

f

Ј

whose value at

x

is

f

Ј

͑

x

͒

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

ᎏ

f

͑

x

ϩ

hh

͒

Ϫ

f

͑

x

͒

ᎏ

,(1)provided the limit exists.

continued

The domain of

f

Ј

,the set of points in the domain of

f

for which the limit exists,may besmaller than the domain of

f.

If

f

Ј

͑

x

͒

exists,we say that

f

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)

f

͑

x

͒

ϭ

x

3

.

100

Chapter3

Derivatives

SOLUTION

Applying the definition,we have

f

Ј

͑

x

͒

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

ᎏ

f

͑

x

ϩ

hh

͒

Ϫ

f

͑

x

͒

ᎏ

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

ᎏ

͑

x

ϩ

hh

͒

3

Ϫ

x

3

ᎏ

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

ᎏ

͑

3

x

2

ϩ

3

x hh

ϩ

h

2

͒

h

ᎏ

ϭ

lim

h

→

0

͑

3

x

2

ϩ

3

xh

ϩ

h

2

͒

ϭ

3

x

2

.

Now try Exercise 1.

The derivative of

f

͑

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

ᎏ

h

͑

x

ϩ

h

͒

3

expanded

x

3

s cancelled,

h

factored out

After we find the derivative of

f

at a point

x

ϭ

a

using the alternate form,we can findthe derivative of

f

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

ᎏ

f

͑

x x

͒

ϪϪ

a f

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

ϭ

lim

x

→

a

ᎏ

͙

x

ෆ

x

ϪϪ

͙

aa

ෆ

ᎏ

Eq. 2 with

f

͑

x

͒

ϭ

ϭ

lim

x

→

a

ᎏ

͙

x

ෆ

x

ϪϪ

͙

aa

ෆ

ᎏ

•

ᎏ

͙ ͙

x

ෆ

x

ෆ

ϩϩ

͙ ͙

a

ෆ

a

ෆ

ᎏ

Rationalize…

ϭ

lim

x

→

a

…the numerator.

ϭ

lim

x

→

a

ᎏ

͙

x

ෆ

ϩ

1

͙

a

ෆ

ᎏ

We can now take the limit.

ϭ

ᎏ

2

͙

1

a

ෆ

ᎏ

.Applying this formula to an arbitrary

x

Ͼ

0 in the domain of

f

identifies the derivative asthe function

f

Ј

͑

x

͒

ϭ

1

ր

͑

2

͙

x

ෆ

͒

with domain

͑

0,

ϱ

͒

.

Now try Exercise 5.

x

Ϫ

a

ᎏᎏᎏ

͑

x

Ϫ

a

͒͑

͙

x

ෆ

ϩ

͙

a

ෆ

͒

1

x

x y

(

a

+

h

)

f

(

a

)

P

(

a, f

(

a

))

Q

(

a

+

h, f

(

a

+

h

))

y

=

f

(

x

)

⌬

x

⌬

ya a

+

hO

Figure 3.1

The slope of the secant line

PQ

is

ᎏ

⌬⌬

y x

ᎏ

ϭ

ᎏ

f

͑

a

͑

a

ϩϩ

hh

͒͒

ϪϪ

f a

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

ϭ

ᎏ

f

͑

a

ϩ

hh

͒

Ϫ

f

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

.

x y f

(

x

)

f

(

a

)

P

(

a, f

(

a

))

Q

(

x, f

(

x

))

y

=

f

(

x

)

⌬

x

⌬

ya x O

Figure 3.2

The slope of the secant line

PQ

is

ᎏ

⌬⌬

y x

ᎏ

ϭ

ᎏ

f

͑

x x

͒

ϪϪ

a f

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

.

DEFINITION (ALTERNATE)

Derivative at a Point

The

derivative

of the function

f

at the point

x a

is the limit

f

Ј

͑

a

͒

ϭ

lim

x

→

a

ᎏ

f

͑

x x

͒

ϪϪ

a f

͑

a

͒

ᎏ

,(2)provided the limit exists.

Eq. 1 with

f

͑

x

͒

ϭ

x

3

,

f

͑

x

ϩ

h

͒

ϭ

͑

x

ϩ

h

͒

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

f

Ј

͑

x

͒

,themost common notations are these:

y

Ј

“

y

prime”Nice and brief,but does not namethe independent variable.“

dy dx

”or “the derivativeNames both variables andof

y

with respect to

x

”uses

d

for derivative.“

df dx

”or “the derivativeEmphasizes the function’s name.of

f

with respect to

x

”

f

͑

x

͒

“

ddx

of

f

at

x

”or “the Emphasizes the idea that differentia-derivative of

f

at

x

”tion is an operation performed on

f.

Relationships between the Graphs of

f

and

f

When we have the explicit formula for

f

͑

x

͒

,we can derive a formula for

f

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

f

Ј

looks like by

estimating the slopes

at var-ious points along the graph of

f.

EXAMPLE 3GRAPHING

f

from

f

Graph the derivative of the function

f

whose graph is shown in Figure 3.3a. Discuss thebehavior of

f

in terms of the signs and values of

f

Ј

.

d

ᎏ

dx df

ᎏ

dx dy

ᎏ

dx

Why all the notation?

The “prime” notations

y

Ј

and

f

Ј

comefrom notations that Newton used forderivatives. The

d

ր

dx

notations aresimilar to those used by Leibniz. Eachhas its advantages and disadvantages.

x y

2

A BC D E F

453–112(a)3567

y

=

f

(

x

)Slope 4Slope 1Slope 0Slope 0Slope –1Slope –14

x 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

f

in part (a) is the

y

-coordinate of point

A

Ј

on thegraph of

f

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,

f

͑

0

͒͒

,the graph of

f

has slope 4,so

f

Ј

͑

0

͒

ϭ

4. At

B

,the graph of

f

has slope 1,so

f

Јϭ

1 at

B

Ј

,and so on.

continued

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