# Differentiation From First Principles The gradient of a smooth curve, $\textnormal{f}(x)$, at a point $x$ is the gradient of the tangent to the curve at the point $x$. Point $P$ is on the curve and $Q$ is a neighbouring point whose $x$ value is displaced a small quantity, $\delta x$.

The idea behind differentiation is that as $\delta x$ becomes very small, the gradient of $PQ$ tends towards the gradient of the curve. In the limit as $\delta x$ becomes infinitesimally close to zero, the gradient $PQ$ becomes the gradient of the curve.

We write: $\textnormal{gradient f}(x)=\dfrac{\textnormal{d}y}{\textnormal{d}x}=\lim_{\delta x \rightarrow 0}\left(\dfrac{\delta y}{\delta x}\right)=\lim_{\delta x \rightarrow 0}\left(\dfrac{\textnormal{f}(x+\delta x)-\textnormal{f}(x)}{\delta x}\right)$

there is a fair bit of analytic work missing (higher education) to make these ideas sound.

We also write: $\dfrac{\textnormal{d}y}{\textnormal{d}x}=\textnormal{f}'(x).$

STANDARD RESULTS

Standard results can be proved for different functions.

If $\textnormal{f}(x)=x^{n}$ then If $\textnormal{f}(x)=\sin x$, then we need to consider the small angle approximation that is if $\delta x$ radians is very small (infinitesimal), then $\delta x\approx\sin \delta x$ and $\cos \delta x \approx 1$, and compound trigonometry from which follows, The differentiation process described above is linear and extends to more complicated functions. That is to say that if, $y=a\textnormal{f}(x)+b\textnormal{g}(x)$ where $a,b \in \mathbb{R}$, $\dfrac{\textnormal{d}y}{\textnormal{d}x}=a\textnormal{f}'(x)+b\textnormal{g}'(x)$