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Partial derivatives in scientific analysis

  1. Mar 7, 2013 #1
    The idea of varying one thing but keeping others constant is central in scientific analysis. People want to know, other things constant, the effect of taking vitamins, smoking or drinking alcohol, just as examples.

    Is the idea of the partial derivative analogous to scientific empiricism's need to observe the effect of one change, while keeping all others constant?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2013 #2
    Sort of. To extend your analogy, if "health" is a function of the quantity of vitamins taken, cigarettes smoked and alcohol ingested then the partital derivative of health with respect to alcohol is the rate of change in health for a unit increase in alcohol, vitamins and cigarettes being constant.
  4. Mar 8, 2013 #3
    Thanks. Yeah that sounds more or less like what I was saying.
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