The Chain Rule

Most of the function students are faced with in beginning calculus are compositions of the Elementary Functions. The Chain Rule allows you to differentiate composite functions easily. The posts listed below are ways to introduce and use the Chain Rule. Experimenting with a CAS – Chain Rule  Using a CAS to discover the Chain Rule…

Derivative Formulae

So, no one wants to do complicated limits to find derivatives. There are easier ways of course. There are a number of quick ways (rules, formulas) for finding derivatives of the Elementary Functions and their compositions. Here are some ways to introduce these rules; these are the subject of this week’s review of past posts. Why…

Difference Quotients

Difference quotients are the path to the definition of the derivative. Here are three posts exploring difference quotients. Difference Quotients I  The forward and backward difference quotients Difference Quotients II      The symmetric difference quotient and seeing the three difference quotients in action.  Showing that the three difference quotients converge to the same value. Seeing Difference…

Local Linearity

If you use your calculator or graphing program and zoom-in of the graph of a function (with equal zoom factors in both directions), the graph eventually looks like a line: the graph appears to be straight. This property is called Local Linearity. The slope of this line is the number called the derivative. (There are exceptions:…

Continuity

Karl Weierstrass (1815 – 1897) was the mathematician who (finally) formalized the definition of continuity. Included in that definition was the epsilon-delta definition of limit. This definition has been pulled out, so to speak, and now is usually presented on its own. So, which came first – continuity or limit? The ideas and situations that…

Limits – They Make the Calculus Work.

In an ideal world, I would like to have all students study limits in their pre-calculus course and know all about them when they get to calculus. Certainly, this would be better than teaching how to calculate derivatives in pre-calculus (after all derivatives are calculus, not pre-calculus). Limits are the foundation of the calculus. Continuity,…