Calculus – Derivatives

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The study of differential calculus is concerned with how one quantity changes in relation to another quantity. The central concept of differential calculus is the derivative.

Definition of Derivative:

The following formulas give the Definition of Derivative. Scroll down the page for more examples and solutions.
Definition of Derivative

Interpretation of the Derivative as the Slope of a Tangent

The tangent line to y = f(x) at (a,f(a)) is the line through (a, f(a)) whose slope is equal to f’(a), the derivative of f at a. This means that the derivative is the slope of a curve at a given point on the curve.


Use the derivative to find the slope at any point along the following curves.
a) f(x) = 2x2
b) f(x) =


a) f(x) = 2x2



Derivative Notations

If we use the traditional notation y = f(x) to indicate that the independent variable is x and the dependent variable is y, then some common notations for the derivatives are as follows:


What is a derivative?

Understanding the Definition of the Derivative

The following video shows how to find the slope of a tangent line to a curve and gives the definition of a derivative.

The following video shows how to use the derivative to find the slope at any point along f(x) = x2

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