Basics of Derivative Calculus: Rules & Calculations

Basics of Derivative Calculus – The derivative is a fundamental concept in calculus that measures the rate at which a function changes to its independent variable. It provides a powerful tool for analyzing and understanding the behavior of functions. 

Basics of Derivative Calculus:  Rules & Calculations

At its core, the derivative represents the slope or rate of change of a function at a specific point. It describes how the function is changing as the input variable (typically denoted as ‘x’) varies. In other words, it quantifies the instantaneous rate at which the output of a function is changing to the input. 

Basics of Derivative Calculus

Derivative of the function g(x) is denoted as g'(x), df/dx, and dy/dx. Geometrically, it can be interpreted as the slope of the tangent line to the graph of the function at a particular point. 

In this article, we will discuss the concept of derivatives, some function and their formula, and the use of derivatives in daily life. Also, topic will be explained with the help of detail example. 

What is Derivative? 

The concept of the derivative is a fundamental idea in calculus that measures the rate of change of a function at a particular point. It provides information about how the function is changing as its independent variable varies. 

Formally, the derivative of a function f(x) at a specific point x = a is denoted as f'(a), or sometimes as dy/dx evaluated at x = a. Geometrically, it represents the slope of the tangent line to the graph of the function at that point. 

The derivative of that function would represent the object’s velocity at a specific time. Similarly, if the function represents the velocity of an object, its derivative would represent the object’s acceleration at a given time. 

In calculus, several important derivative formulas help calculate derivatives of various functions. Here are some of the commonly used derivative formulas: 

Some derivative Rules

Name   Function   Formula  
Power Rule  f(x) = xn  f'(x) = nx(n-1) 
Constant Multiple Rule  f(x) = c × g(x)  f'(x) = c × g'(x) 
Sum/Difference Rule  f(x) = g(x) ± h(x)  f'(x) = g'(x) ± h'(x) 
Product Rule  f(x) = g(x) × h(x)  f'(x) = g'(x) × h(x) + g(x) × h'(x) 
Quotient Rule  f(x) = g(x) / h(x)  f'(x) = (g'(x) × h(x) – g(x) × h'(x)) / [h(x)]2 
Chain Rule  f(x) = g(h(x))  f'(x) = g'(h(x)) × h'(x) 
Exponential Functions  f(x) = ex  f'(x) = ex 
Logarithmic Functions  f(x) = ln(x)  f'(x) = 1 / x 



Uses of Derivatives

The derivative, being a fundamental concept in calculus, has numerous real-life applications across various fields. Here are some examples of how derivatives are used in practical situations: 

  • Physics: Derivatives are extensively used in physics to describe motion and changes in physical quantities. For instance, the derivative of displacement to time gives velocity, and the derivative of velocity to time gives acceleration. 
  • Engineering: Derivatives are crucial in engineering for optimizing designs and analyzing systems. Engineers use derivatives to determine the maximum and minimum values of functions, find critical points, and optimize parameters to achieve the desired performance. 
  • Economics and Finance: Derivatives are used in economic and financial analysis to understand rates of change. Derivatives help in determining marginal cost, marginal revenue, and elasticity of demand, which are essential concepts in economics and finance. 
  • Medicine: Derivatives play a role in medical research and analysis, such as modeling the spread of diseases, studying growth rates of tumors, and analyzing physiological processes. Derivatives help us understand how different variables change about one another. 
  • Computer Graphics and Animation: Derivatives are used extensively in computer graphics and animation to create smooth and realistic movements. They help determine the rate at which objects move, change shape, or rotate, leading to more realistic visual effects. 
  • Signal Processing: Derivatives are used in signal processing to analyze and manipulate signals. They help identify key features of a signal, such as the rate of change or the presence of specific events or patterns. 
  • Machine Learning: Derivatives are used in machine learning algorithms for optimization tasks, such as updating the weights and biases of neural networks during training. Derivatives enable the algorithms to adjust the parameters to minimize errors and improve performance. 

How to calculate the derivative of a function? 

Using online tools like derivative calculator by AllMath is a best way to calculate derivative of any function with steps. You can take assistance from the below examples to find the derivative of functions manually.   

Example 1: 

f(x) = 7x2 + 5x – 10. 



We can find the step-by-step derivative of given function w.r.t x.  

Step 1: 

To solve this, we can use the power rule  

The formula of the power rule is 

xn is n× x(n-1). 

 Identify the power of each term: 

f(x) = 7x2 +5x – 10 

Step 2: 

 Now we apply the power rule to each term: 

The derivative of 7x2 is 7.3x(2-1) = 21x. 

The derivative of 5x is 5.1 x (1-1) = 5. 

The derivative of -10 is 0 (since it’s a constant term). 

Step 3:  

Combine the derivatives: 

The derivative of f(x) = 7x2 + 5x – 10 

 f'(x) = 21 x + 5. 

Example 2: 


d/d(x)[f(x)] =? 


Find the derivative of a given function 

To find the derivative of the function f(x) = 5x + (1/3x), we can apply the derivative rules step by step.  

First, we break down. 

Step 1: 

 Identify the terms in the function: 

f(x) = 5x + (1/3x) 

Step 2:  

We apply the power rule of the first term. 

The derivative of 5x to x is simply 5, as the derivative of x1 is 1. 

Step 3: 

 And in the second term, we apply the power and quotient rule on the second term we get. 

The derivative of (1/3x) can be found using the quotient rule. Let’s break it down further: 

  • The numerator is 1. 
  • The denominator is 3x, which can be written as (3x)1. 

Applying the quotient rule:  

f'(x) = [(denominator × derivative of the numerator) – (numerator × derivative of the denominator)] / (denominator)2 

f'(x) = [(3x × 0) – (1 × 3)] / (3x)2 

   f'(x) = -3 / (3x)2 

To simplify, we have: 

f'(x) = -3 / 9x2 

   f'(x) = -1 / 3x2 

So, the derivative of f(x) = 5x + (1/3x) with respect to x is f'(x) = -1 / 3x2. 

 Frequently asked question  

Question 1: 

What does a function be differentiable actually mean? 


If a function’s derivative exists at a certain place, the function is differentiable there. This means that the function has a well-defined slope at that point and is smooth without any abrupt changes or corners. 

Question 2: 

 What is the relationship between derivatives and integrals? 


The derivative of a function measures its rate of change, while the integral of a function measures the accumulated value or area under the function’s curve. The fundamental theorem of calculus establishes the connection between derivatives and integrals, stating that integration and differentiation are inverse operations of each other. 

Question 3: 

 Can derivatives be negative or zero? 


 Yes, derivatives can be negative, positive, or zero. The sign of the derivative indicates the direction of the function’s change. A zero derivative denotes a critical point or an extremum, while a positive derivative denotes a rising function and a negative derivative a declining one. 


In this article, we have discussed the concept of derivatives, some function and their formula, and the use of derivatives in daily life. Also, with the help of examples, the topic will be explained. After complete studying this article anyone can defend derivatives easily.    

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