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  • Find the derivative of a complicated function by using implicit differentiation.
  • Use implicit differentiation to determine the equation of a tangent line.

We have already studied how to find equations of tangent lines to functions and the rate of change of a function at a specific point. In all these cases we had the explicit equation for the function and differentiated these functions explicitly. Suppose instead that we want to determine the equation of a tangent line to an arbitrary curve or the rate of change of an arbitrary curve at a point. In this section, we solve these problems by finding the derivatives of functions that define y implicitly in terms of x .

Implicit differentiation

In most discussions of math, if the dependent variable y is a function of the independent variable x , we express y in terms of x . If this is the case, we say that y is an explicit function of x . For example, when we write the equation y = x 2 + 1 , we are defining y explicitly in terms of x . On the other hand, if the relationship between the function y and the variable x is expressed by an equation where y is not expressed entirely in terms of x , we say that the equation defines y implicitly in terms of x . For example, the equation y x 2 = 1 defines the function y = x 2 + 1 implicitly.

Implicit differentiation allows us to find slopes of tangents to curves that are clearly not functions (they fail the vertical line test). We are using the idea that portions of y are functions that satisfy the given equation, but that y is not actually a function of x .

In general, an equation defines a function implicitly if the function satisfies that equation. An equation may define many different functions implicitly. For example, the functions

y = 25 x 2 and y = { 25 x 2 if 25 x < 0 25 x 2 if 0 x 25 , which are illustrated in [link] , are just three of the many functions defined implicitly by the equation x 2 + y 2 = 25 .

The circle with radius 5 and center at the origin is graphed fully in one picture. Then, only its segments in quadrants I and II are graphed. Then, only its segments in quadrants III and IV are graphed. Lastly, only its segments in quadrants II and IV are graphed.
The equation x 2 + y 2 = 25 defines many functions implicitly.

If we want to find the slope of the line tangent to the graph of x 2 + y 2 = 25 at the point ( 3 , 4 ) , we could evaluate the derivative of the function y = 25 x 2 at x = 3 . On the other hand, if we want the slope of the tangent line at the point ( 3 , −4 ) , we could use the derivative of y = 25 x 2 . However, it is not always easy to solve for a function defined implicitly by an equation. Fortunately, the technique of implicit differentiation    allows us to find the derivative of an implicitly defined function without ever solving for the function explicitly. The process of finding d y d x using implicit differentiation is described in the following problem-solving strategy.

Problem-solving strategy: implicit differentiation

To perform implicit differentiation on an equation that defines a function y implicitly in terms of a variable x , use the following steps:

  1. Take the derivative of both sides of the equation. Keep in mind that y is a function of x . Consequently, whereas d d x ( sin x ) = cos x , d d x ( sin y ) = cos y d y d x because we must use the chain rule to differentiate sin y with respect to x .
  2. Rewrite the equation so that all terms containing d y d x are on the left and all terms that do not contain d y d x are on the right.
  3. Factor out d y d x on the left.
  4. Solve for d y d x by dividing both sides of the equation by an appropriate algebraic expression.

Questions & Answers

questions solve y=sin x
Obi Reply
Solve it for what?
Tim
you have to apply the function arcsin in both sides and you get arcsin y = acrsin (sin x) the the function arcsin and function sin cancel each other so the ecuation becomes arcsin y = x you can also write x= arcsin y
Ioana
what is the question ? what is the answer?
Suman
there is an equation that should be solve for x
Ioana
ok solve it
Suman
are you saying y is of sin(x) y=sin(x)/sin of both sides to solve for x... therefore y/sin =x
Tyron
or solve for sin(x) via the unit circle
Tyron
what is unit circle
Suman
a circle whose radius is 1.
Darnell
the unit circle is covered in pre cal...and or trigonometry. it is the multipcation table of upper level mathematics.
Tyron
what is function?
Ryan Reply
A set of points in which every x value (domain) corresponds to exactly one y value (range)
Tim
what is lim (x,y)~(0,0) (x/y)
NIKI Reply
limited of x,y at 0,0 is nt defined
Alswell
But using L'Hopitals rule is x=1 is defined
Alswell
Could U explain better boss?
emmanuel
value of (x/y) as (x,y) tends to (0,0) also whats the value of (x+y)/(x^2+y^2) as (x,y) tends to (0,0)
NIKI
can we apply l hospitals rule for function of two variables
NIKI
why n does not equal -1
K.kupar Reply
ask a complete question if you want a complete answer.
Andrew
I agree with Andrew
Bg
f (x) = a is a function. It's a constant function.
Darnell Reply
proof the formula integration of udv=uv-integration of vdu.?
Bg Reply
Find derivative (2x^3+6xy-4y^2)^2
Rasheed Reply
no x=2 is not a function, as there is nothing that's changing.
Vivek Reply
are you sure sir? please make it sure and reply please. thanks a lot sir I'm grateful.
The
i mean can we replace the roles of x and y and call x=2 as function
The
if x =y and x = 800 what is y
Joys Reply
y=800
Gift
800
Bg
how do u factor the numerator?
Drew Reply
Nonsense, you factor numbers
Antonio
You can factorize the numerator of an expression. What's the problem there? here's an example. f(x)=((x^2)-(y^2))/2 Then numerator is x squared minus y squared. It's factorized as (x+y)(x-y). so the overall function becomes : ((x+y)(x-y))/2
The
The problem is the question, is not a problem where it is, but what it is
Antonio
I think you should first know the basics man: PS
Vishal
Yes, what factorization is
Antonio
Antonio bro is x=2 a function?
The
Yes, and no.... Its a function if for every x, y=2.... If not is a single value constant
Antonio
you could define it as a constant function if you wanted where a function of "y" defines x f(y) = 2 no real use to doing that though
zach
Why y, if domain its usually defined as x, bro, so you creates confusion
Antonio
Its f(x) =y=2 for every x
Antonio
Yes but he said could you put x = 2 as a function you put y = 2 as a function
zach
F(y) in this case is not a function since for every value of y you have not a single point but many ones, so there is not f(y)
Antonio
x = 2 defined as a function of f(y) = 2 says for every y x will equal 2 this silly creates a vertical line and is equivalent to saying x = 2 just in a function notation as the user above asked. you put f(x) = 2 this means for every x y is 2 this creates a horizontal line and is not equivalent
zach
The said x=2 and that 2 is y
Antonio
that 2 is not y, y is a variable 2 is a constant
zach
So 2 is defined as f(x) =2
Antonio
No y its constant =2
Antonio
what variable does that function define
zach
the function f(x) =2 takes every input of x within it's domain and gives 2 if for instance f:x -> y then for every x, y =2 giving a horizontal line this is NOT equivalent to the expression x = 2
zach
Yes true, y=2 its a constant, so a line parallel to y axix as function of y
Antonio
Sorry x=2
Antonio
And you are right, but os not a function of x, its a function of y
Antonio
As function of x is meaningless, is not a finction
Antonio
yeah you mean what I said in my first post, smh
zach
I mean (0xY) +x = 2 so y can be as you want, the result its 2 every time
Antonio
OK you can call this "function" on a set {2}, but its a single value function, a constant
Antonio
well as long as you got there eventually
zach
2x^3+6xy-4y^2)^2 solve this
femi
follow algebraic method. look under factoring numerator from Khan academy
moe
volume between cone z=√(x^2+y^2) and plane z=2
Kranthi Reply
answer please?
Fatima
It's an integral easy
Antonio
V=1/3 h π (R^2+r2+ r*R(
Antonio
How do we find the horizontal asymptote of a function using limits?
Lerato Reply
Easy lim f(x) x-->~ =c
Antonio
solutions for combining functions
Amna Reply
what is a function? f(x)
Jeremy Reply
one that is one to one, one that passes the vertical line test
Andrew
It's a law f() that to every point (x) on the Domain gives a single point in the codomain f(x)=y
Antonio
is x=2 a function?
The
restate the problem. and I will look. ty
jon Reply
is x=2 a function?
The
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Source:  OpenStax, Calculus volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Feb 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11964/1.2
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