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Derivative Rules

The Derivative tells us the slope of a function at any point.

The derivatives of many functions are well known. Here are some useful rules to help you
work out the derivatives of more complicated functions (with examples below). Note: the
little mark means "Derivative of".

Common Functions

Function

Derivative

c
x
x2
x
ex
ax
ln(x)
loga(x)
sin(x)
cos(x)
tan(x)
sin-1(x)
cos-1(x)
tan-1(x)

0
1
2x
()x-
ex
ax(ln a)
1/x
1 / (x ln(a))
cos(x)
sin(x)
sec2(x)
1/(1x2)
1/(1x2)
1/(1+x2)

Rules

Function

Derivative

Multiplication by constant
Power Rule
Sum Rule
Difference Rule
Product Rule
Quotient Rule
Reciprocal Rule
Chain Rule
(as "Composition of Functions")
Chain Rule (in a different form)

cf
xn
f+g
f-g
fg
f/g
1/f
fg

cf
nxn1
f + g
f g
f g + f g
(f g g f )/g2
f/f2
(f g) g

f(g(x))

f(g(x))g(x)

Constant
Square
Square Root
Exponential
Logarithms

Inverse Trigonometry

"The derivative of" is also written

Examples
Example: what is the derivative of sin(x) ?
From the table above it is listed as being cos(x)
It can be written as:

sin(x) = cos(x)
Or:

sin(x) = cos(x)

Power Rule
Example: What is

x3 ?

The question is asking "what is the derivative of x3?"

We can use the Power Rule, where n=3:

xn = nxn1
x3 = 3x31 = 3x2

Example: What is

(1/x) ?

1/x is also x-1

We can use the Power Rule, where n = 1:

xn = nxn1

x1 = 1x11 = x2

Multiplication by constant
Example: What is

5x3 ?
the derivative of cf = cf
the derivative of 5f = 5f

We know (from the Power Rule):

x3 = 3x31 = 3x2
So:

5x3 = 5

x3 = 5 3x2 = 15x2

Sum Rule
Example: What is the derivative of x2+x3 ?
The Sum Rule says:

the derivative of f + g = f + g
So we can work out each derivative separately and then add them.
Using the Power Rule:

x2 = 2x

x3 = 3x2

And so:

the derivative of x2 + x3 = 2x + 3x2

Difference Rule
It doesn't have to be x, we can differentiate with respect to, for example, v:

Example: What is

(v3v4) ?

The Difference Rule says

the derivative of f g = f g
So we can work out each derivative separately and then subtract them.
Using the Power Rule:

v3 = 3v2

v4 = 4v3

And so:

Sum, Difference, Constant Multiplication And Power Rules

Example: What is
Using the Power Rule:

z2 = 2z

z3 = 3z2

z4 = 4z3

And so:

(5z2 + z3 7z4) ?

(5z2 + z3 7z4) = 5 2z + 3z2 7 4z3 = 10z + 3z2 28z3

Product Rule
Example: What is the derivative of cos(x)sin(x) ?
The Product Rule says:

the derivative of fg = f g + f g
In our case:

f = cos

g = sin

cos(x) = sin(x)

sin(x) = cos(x)

So:

the derivative of cos(x)sin(x) = cos(x)cos(x) sin(x)sin(x)

= cos2(x) sin2(x)

Reciprocal Rule
Example: What is

(1/x) ?

the derivative of 1/f = f/f2

With f(x)= x, we know that f(x) = 1

So:

the derivative of 1/x = 1/x2

Which is the same result we got above using the Power Rule.

Chain Rule
Example: What is

sin(x2) ?

f(g) = sin(g)

g(x) = x2

the derivative of f(g(x)) = f'(g(x))g'(x)

The individual derivatives are:

f'(g) = cos(g)

g'(x) = 2x

So:

sin(x2) = cos(g(x)) 2x
= 2x cos(x2)

Example: What is

(1/sin(x)) ?

f(g) = 1/g

g(x) = sin(x)

the derivative of f(g(x)) = f(g(x))g(x)

The individual derivatives are:

f'(g) = 1/(g2)

g'(x) = cos(x)

So:

= cos(x)/sin2(x)

Example: What is

(5x2)3 ?

the derivative of f(g(x)) = f(g(x))g(x)

(5x-2)3 is made up of g3 and 5x-2:

f(g) = g3

g(x) = 5x2

g'(x) = 5

So: