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Differentiation of Functions

Differentiation is a method to find rates of change. It is an important topic for the JEE exam. Derivative of a function y = f(x) of a variable x is the rate of change of y, with respect to the rate of change of x. This article helps you to learn the derivative of a function, standard derivatives, theorems of derivatives, differentiation of implicit functions and higher order derivatives, along with solved examples. 

Related Topics:

How to Differentiate a Function

The differentiation of a function is a way to show the rate of change of a function at a given point. For real-valued functions, it is the slope of the tangent line at a point on a graph.

The derivative of y with respect to x is defined as the change in y over the change in x, as the distance between x0 and x1 becomes infinitely small (infinitesimal).  The derivative is often written as dy/dx.

In mathematical terms, if f is a real-valued function, and a is a point in its domain of definition, the derivative of f at a is defined by

\(\begin{array}{l}{\displaystyle f'(a)=\lim _{h\to 0}{\frac {f(a+h)-f(a)}{h}}}\end{array} \)

Standard Derivatives

\(\begin{array}{l}1]\ {dx}\left(u^n\right)=nu^{n-1}\frac{du}{dx}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}2]\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(c\right)=0,\; \text{where c is a constant}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}3]\ \text{If } y=F(u)\text{ where }u=f(x)\text{ then }\frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{dy}{du}\times\frac{du}{dx}\end{array} \)

(Chain rule or function of a function rule)

4) Derivatives of trigonometric functions

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}\left(\sin u\right)=\cos u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\cos u\right)=-\sin u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\tan u\right)=\sec^2 u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\sec u\right)=\sec u\tan u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}(cosec\ u)=-cosecu\ cotu\ \frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}(cot\ u)=-cosec^2u\ \frac{du}{dx}\\\end{array} \)

5) Derivatives of inverse trigonometric functions

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}\left(\sin^{-1} u\right)=\frac{1}{\sqrt{1-u^2}}\frac{du}{dx},\qquad -1<u<1\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\cos^{-1} u\right)=\frac{-1}{\sqrt{1-u^2}}\frac{du}{dx},\qquad -1<u<1\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\tan^{-1} u\right)=\frac{1}{1+u^2}\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\ cosec^{-1}u=-\frac{1}{|u|\sqrt{u^2-1}}\frac{du}{dx}\qquad |u|>1\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\sec^{-1} u\right)=\frac{1}{|u|\sqrt{u^2-1}}\frac{du}{dx}\qquad |u|>1\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\cot^{-1} u\right)=-\frac{1}{1+u^2}\frac{du}{dx}\\\end{array} \)

6) Exponential and logarithmic functions

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}\left(e^u\right)=e^u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(a^u\right)=a^u\ln a\frac{du}{dx}, \text{where }a>0, a\ne1\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\ln u\right)=\frac{1}{u}\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\ln_a u\right)=\frac{1}{u\ln a}\frac{du}{dx},\text{ where }a>0, a\ne 1\\\end{array} \)

7) Hyperbolic functions

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}\left(\sinh u\right)=\cosh u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\cosh u\right)=\sinh u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\left(\tanh u\right)=sech^{2}u\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\ (sech u)=-sechu\ tanhu\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\ (cosech u)=-cosechu\ cothu\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\ (coth u)=-cosech^{2}u\frac{du}{dx}\\\end{array} \)

8) Inverse hyperbolic functions

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}sinh^{-1} u=\frac{1}{\sqrt{1+u^2}}\frac{du}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}cosh^{-1} u=\frac{1}{\sqrt{u^2-1}}\frac{du}{dx},\qquad u>1\\ \frac{d}{dx}tanh^{-1} u=\frac{1}{1-u^2}\frac{du}{dx},\qquad |u|<1\\ \frac{d}{dx}cosech^{-1} u=-\frac{1}{|u|\sqrt{u^2+1}}\frac{du}{dx}\qquad u\ne 0\\ \frac{d}{dx}sech^{-1} u=-\frac{1}{u\sqrt{1-u^2}}\frac{du}{dx}\qquad 0<u<1\\ \frac{d}{dx}coth^{-1} u=\frac{1}{1-u^2}\frac{du}{dx},\qquad |u|>1\\\end{array} \)

Some Standard Substitution

Expression Substitution

Simple tricks to solve complicated differential equations are listed below.

(i) If a function contains

\(\begin{array}{l}\sqrt{{{a}^{2}}-{{x}^{2}}}\end{array} \)
, then substitute x = a sinθ or x = a cosθ

(ii) If a function contains

\(\begin{array}{l}\sqrt{{{a}^{2}}+{{x}^{2}}}\end{array} \)
, then substitute x = a cotθ or x = a tan θ

(iii) If a function contains

\(\begin{array}{l}\sqrt{{{x}^{2}}+{{a}^{2}}}\end{array} \)
, then substitute x = a cosecθ or x = a sec θ

Theorems of Derivatives

Find some of the important theorem results below.

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}[u\pm v]=\frac{du}{dx}\pm\frac{dv}{dx}\\ \frac{d}{dx}uv=u\frac{dv}{dx}+v\frac{du}{dx}\qquad\text{(Product Rule)}\\ \frac{d}{dx}\frac{u}{v}=\frac{v\frac{du}{dx}- u\frac{dv}{dx}}{v^2}\qquad\text{(Quotient Rule)}\\\frac{d}{dx}\left( k\,f(x) \right)=k\frac{d}{dx}(f(x)),\,\,where\,k\,is\,constant\end{array} \)


Example 1: Find dy/dx for y = x sinx log x


\(\begin{array}{l}{{y}^{‘}}=1\times \sin x\times \log x+x\cos x\log x+x\sin x\times \frac{1}{x}=\sin x\,\log x+x\cos x\log x+\sin x\end{array} \)

Example 2: Find dy/dx for y = sin(x2 + 1).


\(\begin{array}{l}{{y}^{‘}}=\cos ({{x}^{2}}+1)\times 2x\end{array} \)

= 2x cos (x2 + 1)

Differentiation of Implicit Function

Implicit differentiation, also known as the chain rule, differentiate both sides of an equation with two given variables by considering one of the variables as a function of the second variable. In short, differentiate the given function with respect to x and solve for dy/dx. Let us have a look at some examples.

Example 1: If x2 + 2xy + y3 = 4, find dy/dx.

Solution: Differentiating both sides w.r.t. x, we get

\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d}{dx}({{x}^{2}})+2\frac{d}{dx}(xy)+\frac{d}{dx}({{y}^{3}})=\frac{d}{dx}(4)\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}=2x+2x\frac{dy}{dx}+2y+3{{y}^{2}}.\frac{dy}{dx}=0\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\Rightarrow \frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{-2(x+y)}{(2x+3{{y}^{2}})}\end{array} \)

Example 2: Differentiate log sin x w.r.t

\(\begin{array}{l}\sqrt{\cos x}\end{array} \)

Solution: Let u = log sin x  and v =

\(\begin{array}{l}\sqrt{\cos x}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{du}{dx}=\cot x\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\And \,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\frac{dv}{dx}=\frac{-\sin x}{2\sqrt{\cos x}}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{du}{dx}=\frac{du/dx}{dv/dx}=\frac{\cot x}{\frac{-\sin x}{2\sqrt{\cos x}}}=-2\sqrt{\cos x}\cot x\cos ec(x)\end{array} \)

Higher Order Derivatives

The differentiation process can be continued up to the nth derivation of a function. Usually, we deal with the first-order and second-order derivatives of the functions.

dy/dx is the first derivative of y w.r.t x.

d2y/dx2 is the second derivative of y w.r.t x.

Similarly, finding the third, fourth, fifth and successive derivatives of any function, say g(x), which are known as higher-order derivatives of g(x). The
nth order derivative numerical notation is gn(x) or dny/dxn

Example: If

\(\begin{array}{l}y={{e}^{{{\tan }^{-1}}x}},then\,prove\,that\,(1+{{x}^{2}})\frac{{{d}^{2}}y}{d{{x}^{2}}}=(1-2x)\frac{dy}{dx}\end{array} \)


\(\begin{array}{l}y={{e}^{{{\tan }^{-1}}x}}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{dy}{dx} = {{e}^{{{\tan }^{-1}}x}}\frac{1}{1+x^{2}}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}=\frac{e^{tan^{-1}x}}{1+x^{2}}…(i)\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d^2y}{dx^2} = \frac{(1+x^{2})e^{tan^{-1}x}\frac{1}{1+x^{2}}-2xe^{tan^{-1}x}}{(1+x^{2})^{2}}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}=\frac{(1-2x)e^{tan^{-1}x}}{(1+x^{2})^{2}}\end{array} \)
\(\begin{array}{l}\frac{d^2y}{dx^2} (1 + x^2) = \frac{(1-2x)e^{tan^{-1}x}}{(1+x^{2})}\end{array} \)

= (1-2x)dy/dx      (from eqn (i))

Hence proved.

Video Lessons

Methods of Differentiation – JEE Solved Questions

Important Theorems of Differentiation for JEE

Frequently Asked Questions


What do you mean by differentiation in mathematics?

Differentiation is the process of finding the derivative of a function.


Give the product rule of differentiation.

Product rule: (d/dx) (uv) = u (dv/dx) + v (du/dx).


Give the quotient rule of differentiation.

Quotient rule: (d/dx)(u/v) = (v (du/dx) – u (dv/dx))/v2.


What is the derivative of cot x w.r.t. x?

The derivative of cot x w.r.t.x = -cosec2x.

Test your Knowledge on differentiation


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