Chapter Four

Derivatives
4.1 Derivatives Suppose f is a vector function and t 0 is a point in the interior of the domain of f ( t 0 in the interior of a set S of real numbers means there is an interval centered at t 0 that is a subset of S.). The derivative is defined just as it is for a plain old everyday real valued function, except, of course, the derivative is a vector. Specifically, we say that f is differentiable at t 0 if there is a vector v such that

1 lim [ f (t 0 + h) − f (t 0 )] = v . t → t0 h

The vector v is called the derivative of f at t 0 .

Now, how would we find such a thing? Suppose f (t ) = a( t ) i + b (t ) j + c (t ) k . Then

1  a (t + h) − a( t 0 )   b(t 0 + h) − b(t 0 )   c(t + h) − c(t 0 )  [ f (t 0 + h) − f (t 0 )] =  0 i +   j + 0 k .       h h h h

It should now be clear that the vector function f is differentiable at t 0 if and only if each of the coordinate functions a( t ), b(t ), and c(t ) is. Moreover, the vector derivative v is v = a '( t ) i + b'( t ) j + c'( t ) k . Now we “know” what the derivative of a vector function is, and we know how to compute it, but what is it, really? Let’s see. Let f (t ) = ti + t 3 j . This is, of course, a vector function which describes the graph of the function y = x 3 . Let’s look at the

4.1

t 0 ) . and so the tangent vector and the vector from the center of the circle to the point on the circle are perpendicular-a wellknown fact you learned from Mrs. a b If the particle behaves nicely. Thus the distance the particle travels from time t = a to time t = b is given by the integral of the speed: d = ∫ | f '( t )| dt . Then the derivative. Note that the derivative is never 4. It is not so clear what we should define to be the tangent to a curve other than a plane curve. If f is a vector description of a space curve. For the distance traveled by the particle to be the same as the length of its path. or reversing direction. Note that the scalar product r(t ) ⋅ r'( t ) = − sin t cost + sin t cos t = 0 . of course. and its length | f '( t )| is the speed. . the direction of the derivative f '( t ) vector is the tangent direction at the point f (t ) -the derivative f '( t ) is said to be tangent to the curve at f (t ) . the derivative is the velocity of the particle. This vector is indeed tangent to the curve described by r (which we already know to be a circle of radius 1 centered at the origin. Convince yourself that the direction of the vector v is 3 the direction tangent to the graph of y = x 3 at the point (t 0 . or velocity. then.2 . Again. vectors come to our rescue.2 derivative of f at t 0 : v = i + 3t 0 j . This means we must not allow the velocity to be zero for any t between a and b. there must be no “backtracking”. If f (t ) specifies the position of a particle at time t. Example Consider the function r(t ) = cos ti + sin tj . Turner in 4th grade. this distance is precisely the length of the arc of the curve from f (a ) to f (b) .) at r(t ) . is r'( t ) = − sin t i + cos tj . It should be clear what we mean by “behaves nicely”.

0. 3. . 0 No surprise here. Find the point at which L intersects the i-j plane. b)Find a vector equation for the line tangent to this same curve at the point (1. 0). b)Do L and M intersect? Explain. a)Find the velocity of the particle. Let L be the line tangent to the curve g (t ) = 10 cos ti + 10 sin t j + 16tk at the point ( 10 10 . 1. 0). Exercises 1. 6) in the direction of b = i − 3 j + 2k .3 . c)Describe the path of the particle.zero-there is no value of t for which both cost and sint vanish. 3) in the direction of the vector a = i + 2 j − k . 2. The length of a piece of the curve can thus be found by integrating the speed: p= 2π ∫ | r'( t )| dt = 0 2π ∫ 0 sin 2 t + cos 2 tdt = 2π ∫ dt = 2π . 1. 0. 4. 2 2 4. and find its length. a)Find a vector tangent to the curve f (t ) = t 2 i + t 3 j + (1 − t )k at the point (1. b)Find the speed of the particle. and let M be the straight line passing through the point (0.4π ) . a)Are L and M parallel? Explain. The position of a particle is given by r(t ) = cos(t 3 ) i + sin(t 3 ) j . Let L be the straight line passing through the point (5.

0.5. Find the distance between L and M. 1). and let M be the straight line passing through the point (0. 16π). Let L be the straight line passing through the point (1. 3) in the direction of the vector a = 2 i + j − k . as we have seen. 5) in the direction of b = 3i − j + 2k . 1. Find the length of the arc of the curve R (t ) = 3cos t i + 3 sin t j + 4tk between the points (3. of course.2 Geometry of Space Curves-Curvature Let R(t ) be a vector description of a curve. 1. 0. simply s(t ) = ∫ | R '( ξ )| dξ . Then the distance s(t ) along the curve from the point R(t 0 ) to the point R(t ) is. dt Now then the vector T= R '( t ) R'( t ) dt dR = = R'( t ) = | R'( t )| ds / dt ds ds is tangent to R and has length one. 7. that R'( t ) ≠ 0 . 6. The speed is ds =| R'( t )| . t0 t assuming. Consider next the derivative 4. 4. It is called the unit tangent vector.4 . 0) and (3. 1) and (1. Find an integral the value of which is the length of the curve y = x 2 between the points (-1.

Thus κ= The unit vector N= dT . ds 1 dT κ ds is called the principal unit normal vector. to the tangent vector T. Example Consider the circle of radius a and center at the origin: R (t ) = a cost i + a sin t j . Then R '( t ) = − a sin ti + a cos tj . The length of this vector is called the curvature and is usually denoted by the letter κ. a Let’s not stop now. dT dT dt 1 dT 1 = = = ( − cos t i − sin t j ) . or normal. and its direction is sometimes called the principal normal direction. or orthogonal. which means that the vector is ds ds perpendicular. ds ds ds ds But we know that T ⋅ T = |T | 2 = 1. dt T= 1 R' (t ) = − sin ti + cost j .d dT dT dT T ⋅T = T ⋅ + ⋅ T = 2T ⋅ . and Thus ds = | R'( t )| = a 2 sin 2 t + a 2 cos 2 t = a 2 = | a| = a . Thus T ⋅ dT dT = 0.5 . ds dt ds a dt a 4.

6 . The unit tangent is then dt T= 1 5 + 4t 2 ( i + 2 j + 2tk ) . so let’s use a computer algebra system. let’s enter the unit tangent vector T: See if we got it right: T(t). We need to tidy this up: 4. Maple: First. viz. and so It’s a bit of a chore now to find the curvature and the principal normal.. So the curvature is the reciprocal of the ds a radius and the principal normal vector points back toward the center of the circle. First. R '( t ) = i + 2 j + 2tk . and N = − (cos t i + sin t j ) . Fine. ds = | R'( t )| = 5 + 4t 2 .Thus κ = dT 1 = . Another Example This time let R = (t + 1) i + 2t j + t 2 k . Now differentiate: A(t).

and the dt Exercises 8. Find a line tangent to the curve R (t ) = (t 2 + t ) i + (t + 1) j − ( t 3 + 5) k and passing through the point (5. We continue and find the curvature κ and the ds kappa:=t->simplify(sqrt(dotprod(B(t). the curvature κ. This vector is. So there we have at last the speed principal normal N. 4. or show there is no such line. the normal principal normal N.B(t)))). of course. dT .. -2. ds . kappa(t).B(t). 15). N(t).7 . the unit tangent T.

f ( x0 )) . the principal normal N. and so B ⋅ T = 0 . Find the curvature of R (t ) = ti + t 2 j .3 Geometry of Space Curves-Torsion Let R(t ) be a vector description of a curve. Thus 4. Find the curvature of the curve y = f ( x ) at ( x0 . If T is the unit tangent and N is the principal unit normal. note that B ⋅ B = | B|2 = 1.8 . Next. Let’s see about its derivative to arclength s. Note that the binormal is orthogonal to both T and N. At what point on the curve is the curvature the largest? smallest? 4. and so B ⋅ being orthogonal to B. At what point on the curve is the curvature the largest? smallest? 12. the unit vector B = T × N is called the binormal. Find the unit tangent T. Find the curvature of R (t ) = ti + t 3 j . and the curvature κ. the derivative dB with respect ds dB = 0 .9. 11. which means that ds dB is in the plane of T and N. So what have ds perpendicular to the tangent vector T. note that B is ds dB ⋅ T = 0 . for the curves: a) R (t ) = 5 cos(t )i + 5 sin(t ) j + 2 tk b) R (t ) = (2t + 3) i + (5 − t 2 ) j c) R (t ) = e t cos t i + e t sin tj + 6k 10. First.

and we have dt T= 1 a + b2 2 (− a sin t i + a cost j + bk ) .N). Example Let’s find the torsion of the helix R (t ) = a cos ti + a sin tj + btk . Thus ds = | R'( t )| = a 2 + b 2 . Here we go! R '( t ) = − a sin ti + a cos tj + bk . . Now then dT dT dt −a = = 2 (cos ti + sin tj ) . ds dt ds (a + b 2 ) Therefore. (a + b 2 ) 2 Let’s don’t stop now: 4. of course. and so must have the ds direction of N (or. This means dB = −τ N .9 . ds The scalar τ is called the torsion. κ= a and N = − (cos t i + sin t j ) .we here? The vector dB is perpendicular to both B and T.

In other words. and hence it is 0 for all values of t. and dB dB dt b −b = = 2 (cos ti + sin tj ) = 2 N. This means that R (t ) − R( t 0 ) and B are perpendicular for all t. a + b2 2 Suppose the curve R(t ) is such that the torsion is zero for all values of t. and so R (t ) − R( t 0 ) lies in a plane perpendicular to B. 2 2 4. Find the binormal and torsion for the curve R (t ) = 4 cos ti + 3sin tk . In other words. 14. at last: τ = b . Find the binormal and torsion for the curve R (t ) = sin t sin t i + cos t j + k. Look at ds d dR dB [( R( t ) − R (t 0 )) ⋅ B] = ⋅ B + ( R( t ) − R (t 0 )) ⋅ = 0.10 . the curve described by R(t ) is a plane curve. dB ≡ 0 . It is 0 at t 0 . 2 ds dt ds ( a + b ) (a + b2 ) The torsion.B =T ×N = 1 a2 + b2 i − a sin t − cos t j a cos t − sin t k b = 0 1 a2 + b2 (b sin ti − b cost j + ak ) . Exercises 13. ds ds ds Thus the scalar product ( R(t ) − R (t 0 )) ⋅ B is constant.

 dt  Example 4. The derivative of the speed 2  ds  acceleration. What is the vector B × T ? How about N × T ? 4. Show that the curve R (t ) = ti + 1+ t 1− t 2 j+ k lies in a plane. 2 2 d s  ds  = 2 T +  κN  dt  dt since dT ds = κ N . Let’s see about the direction of the acceleration: a( t ) = dv d 2 s ds dT = 2T+ dt dt dt dt . t t 17. and dt dv ds is the acceleration. and so the direction of the dt dt velocity is the unit tangent T. v( t ) = a(t ) = dR is the velocity. 16. of the body. Then the curve described by R(t ) is the path. or trajectory.11 . Find the curvature and torsion for R (t ) = ti + t 2 j + t 3 k.4 Motion Suppose t is time and R(t ) is the position vector of a body. We know that v( t ) = T .15. and κ   is the normal component of the acceleration. This tells us that the acceleration is always in the plane of the dt dt d 2s is the tangential component of the dt 2 vectors T and N.

we know the force f is the mass times the acceleration: f (t ) = ma (t ) .Suppose a person who weighs 160 pounds moves around a circle having radius 20 feet at a constant speed of 60 miles/hour. Find the velocity. the object is at the origin. Find its position at time t. 19. Thus f =m d 2s  ds  T + mκ   N 2  dt  dt 2 also have The speed is a constant 60 miles/hour. At time t = 0. The magnitude of the force is 32 20 5 ⋅882 = 1936 pounds. Hence. and the tangential and normal components of the acceleration. the speed. dt dt  ds   ds | f | =| mκ   N | = mκ   .12 . 20 Exercises 18. or 88 feet/second. in other words. 4. and the curvature κ = . What is the magnitude of the force on this person at any time? First. The position of an object at time t is given by r(t ) = ti + (t 3 − 2) j + 2t k . ds d 2s = 88 and = 0 .  dt   dt  2 2 The mass m = thus | f |= 160 1 = 5 slugs. A force f (t ) = t 2 i + (t − 1) j + k newtons is applied to an object of mass 2 kilograms.

A projectile of weight w is fired from the origin with an initial speed v0 in the direction of the vector cosθ i + sin θ j . What must the speed of the ball be in order for it not to fall from the track? What must the speed of an 8 lb. ball be in order for it not to fall? 4. and the only force acting on the projectile is f = −wj .20.13 . bowling ball is rolled along a track with a circular vertical loop of radius a feet. a)Find a vector description of the trajectory of the projectile. 21. b)Find an equation the graph of which is the trajectory. A 16 lb.

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