# Partial differentiation

## Summary and examples

So far we have discussed how a function of one independent variable can be differentiated. But also functions with two or more independent variables can be differentiated.

Suppose $z$ is a function of two independent variables $x$ en $y$, so we write $z=f(x,y)$.

The graph of this function is $3D$.
The derivative to $x$ in a point of the graph of the function is the slope of the tangent line in that point in the $x$-direction (i.e. $y$ is kept constant). For this so-called partial derivative various notations are used: $\displaystyle\frac{\partial{z}}{\partial{x}},\frac{\partial{f}}{\partial{x}},z_x, f_x$.

The derivative to $y$ in a point of the graph of the function is the slope of the tangent line in that point in the $y$-direction (i.e. $x$ is kept constant). For this so-called partial derivative various notations are used: $\displaystyle\frac{\partial{z}}{\partial{y}},\frac{\partial{f}}{\partial{y}},z_y, f_y$.

The $\displaystyle\partial$ instead of $d$ indicates that we have to do with a partial derivative, either to $x$ or to $y$.

#### How do we calculate a partial derivative?

In order to calculate the partial derivative $\displaystyle\frac{\partial{f}}{\partial{x}}$, we consider $x$ as an independent variable and $y$ as a constant, so pretend that $y$ is a constant. This is not really difficult, but you must be careful because a mistake is easily made.

##### Example 1

The function$f(x,y)=3x^3y^2+x+y^2$ has two independent variables, $x$ en $y$.

If we consider $y$ as a constant, then the partial derivative to $x$ is $f_x= 9x^2y^2+1+0=9x^2y^2+1$.

##### Example 2

In this example not only the first, but also the second derivative is calculated.

$f(x,y)=x^3y^2+xy^2+x^2y$

$f_x=3x^2y^2+y^2+2xy$

$f_y=2x^3y+2xy+x^2$

$f_{xx}=6xy^2+2y$ (second partial derivative to $x$)

$f_{yy}=2x^3+2x$ (second partial derivative to $y$)

There are also so-called mixed partial derivatives, first to $x$ next to $y$: $\displaystyle\frac{\partial^2{f}}{\partial{y}\partial{x}}$; or first to $y$ and next to $x$$\displaystyle\frac{\partial^2{f}}{\partial{x}\partial{y}}$.

For usual functions the mixed partial derivatives are equal: $f_{xy}=f_{yx}$. Just check this in this example.

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