# Month: August 2020

## The Symmetric Derivative

To close out this series on the definition of the derivative, I want to look at a few questions about alternative versions of the definition, primarily the “symmetric difference quotient”. We’ll see that this leads to a slightly different result, not always equivalent to the original, and we’ll observe some associated ways that calculators can …

## Limits and Derivatives on the Edge

(New questions of the week) We’ve had a number of brief discussions recently, which feel too small on their own for a post; but several happen to be dealing with similar types of issues. These four questions, all from July, involve limits or derivatives at edges or holes in the domain of a function. Let’s …

## What Do dx and dy Mean?

We’ve looked at the meaning of the derivative, and of its various notations, including dy/dx. This leads to the next question: What does dx or dy mean on its own? This was touched on last time, but there’s a lot more to say that I couldn’t fit there. We’ll look at more advanced approaches to …

## Challenging Inverse Trig and Polynomial Equations

(A new question of the week) We have had a lot of interesting questions recently. This one involved inverse trigonometric equations that led to cubic and quartic equations. We’ll observe here one of the benefits of embedding the original discussion in a blog format where I can add information that will help you, the reader, …

## What Derivative Notations Mean

Last week we looked at the meaning of the derivative. In doing so, we mostly used the notation “”, but mentioned another in passing. Here I want to look at our answers to several questions about the different notations you will see.

## Proof by Contrapositive with Quantifiers

(A new question of the week) Last week we looked at a recent question about an attempt to write a proof using the contrapositive, which was foiled by difficulty in negating a statement. Two weeks later, we had another question about the same sort of issue, but with a different problem in the negation. In …

## What is a Derivative?

To start a series of posts on differentiation (one of the basic concepts studied in calculus), I’d like to look at a number of answers we’ve given to the basic question, What is a derivative? This includes questions about the meaning of the concept and its definition, as well as examples. Something all these questions …

## The Opposite of Even is Odd … or Not?

(A new question of the week) A recent question raised some interesting issues related to the contrapositive of a logical statement, and how to negate a statement, similar to some past discussions. What universe you are in makes a big difference!

## Multiplying Vectors III: Going Beyond

(An archive question of the week) We’ve looked at the scalar (dot) product and the vector (cross) product; but there is one answer in the Ask Dr. Math archives that was too long to fit in either post. Here we’ll see again where the two familiar products come from, while looking deeper into the math …