Posts Tagged ‘chain rule’

The Chain Rule

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment

The chain rule allows you to differentiate composite functions (functions of other functions) ie) f(g(x)) such as sin(3x2) or (5x3+2x+3)2. The rule is as follows
\frac{d}{dx}(f(g(x)) = \frac{dg}{dx}\frac{df}{dg}(g(x)) = g'(x)f'(g(x))
or to understand it more simply you differentiate the inner function and multiply it by the derivative of the outer function (leaving what’s inside alone).

Differentiating brackets raised to a power

The chain rule can be a great short cut to differentiating brackets raised to a power as it doesn’t require you to multiply them all out, it also enables you to differentiate brackets raised to an unknown power.
Consider \frac{d}{dx}((ax + b)^n)
This is the composite of the functions ax+b and tn. So we differentiate them both to get a and ntn-1 and then apply the formula to get
\frac{d}{dx}((ax + b)^n) = an(ax+b)^{n-1}
Notice how we multiplied the derivative of the inner function, a, by the derivative of the outer function ntn-1 but substituted ax+b back in for t.

To generalise we can replace the ax+b with f(x) and by applying the above get
\frac{d}{dx}((f(x))^n) = f'(x)n(f(x))^{n-1}

Differentiating Trigonometric functions

We can also use the chain rule when differentiating sin(f(x)) and cos(f(x)) since we know how to differentiate sin(x) and cos(x).
Using the chain rule we get
\frac{d}{dx}(sin(f(x)) = f'(x)cos(f(x))
\frac{d}{dx}(cos(f(x)) = -f'(x)sin(f(x))

Sine and Cos Graphs Differentiating sin and cos

June 23, 2008 7 comments

This is the basics of the sine cos and tan graphs and how sine and cos relate to give you tan. It also shows how to differentiate sin and cos.

The output or range of both sine and cos is from -1 to 1 when given any angle. They can be shown on a graph where y = sin(x) and y = cos(x). In these graphs all the angles go along the x axis and you can see a wave type shape is formed

Sine Graph
graph of y=sin(x)

Cosine Graph
cosine graph

As you can see both the sin and cos graphs move periodically between -1 and 1 as the angles change, this pattern continues indefinitely because once you pass 360 degrees or 2 pi radians you will return back to the beginning. If you try to perform sin-1 of a value out side the range -1 to 1 you will get an error.

Differentiate Sin and Cos
also notice that the gradient of the sin graph is the value of the cos graph for the same angle and that the gradient of the cos graph is the -value of the sin graph for that angle. This means that we can differentiate the sin and cos graphs:
if f(x) = sin(x) then f ‘ (x)=cos(x)
if f(x) = cos(x) then f ‘ (x) = -sin(x)

however if we use ax instead of x we must differentiate it by bringing the a out, when its just x this doesn’t matter as the differential of x is 1.
let y = sin(f(x))
now let u = f(x)
du/dx = f ‘ (x)
y=sin(u) as u = f(x)
dy/du = cos(u)

from the chain rule

dy/dx = du/dx * dy/du
if y = sin(f(x))
dy/dx = f ‘ (x)cos(f(x))

and similarly for cos
if y = cos(f(x))
dy/dx = -f ‘ (x)sin(f(x))