Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Need a list on derivatives in Physics

  1. Feb 5, 2006 #1
    For a school project, I am trying to compile a good sized list of the interelation of derivatives in physics. I know I can just go through every page in my book but does anyone know any handy links off hand?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You mean, the derivative of a function, as in calculus ?

    If it's that, know that the mathematical concept of derivative was essentially invented to express a certain concept in physics: "change". Newton and Leibniz are considered to be its inventors.
    "change of position with time" = velocity
    Newton needed to write down velocity as a function of time, when he had position as a function of time. Hence his definition of velocity v = dx /dt

    "change of velocity with time" = acceleration, a = dv/dt = d^2 x/dt^2

    Acceleration is the second derivative wrt time, of position.

    Newton needed that, to write his famous law: mass x acceleration = force

    But the concept of derivative got also used in other ways. For instance, the ELECTRIC FIELD is (minus) the change of potential with position:
    E_x = - dV/dx

    Note that we now have a derivative towards space, not towards time. So the derivative concept is used further than just "change in time".

    In modern physics, derivatives abound, in many ways...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook