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

Homework Help: Second-Order Partial Derivative of a Parametric Function

  1. Feb 7, 2012 #1
    The problem is from an online homework assignment. I know it's probably fairly simple, but my brain isn't grasping it right now for some reason.

    [The Problem]

    We know:

    r(t) = <3t2 - 8t + 3, -9t2 + 2t + 7>

    And we are asked to find d2y/dx2.

    [Background Information]

    My understanding of d2y/dx2 is that it is the second derivative with respect to x (the first derivative of the function having been with respect to both x and y).

    In other words, it's broken down like this:

    (d/dx)(dy/dx) = d2y/dx2
    The derivative (with respect to x) of the first derivative of the parametric function, r(t), is equal to that mess on the right hand side of the equation.

    [Attempt at a Solution]

    So we know that:

    (dy/dx) = (dy/dt) / (dx/dt) (From the textbook.)

    And the above function, r(t), can be broken down into two parts:

    x(t) = -9t2 + 2t + 7
    y(t) = 3t2 - 8t + 3


    (dx/dt) = 6t - 8
    (dy/dt) = -18t + 2


    (dy/dx) = (-18t + 2) / (6t - 8)

    So, now, here's where I feel like I'm guessing a little bit. Following that logic, would d2y/dx2 = (6) * [(-18t + 2)/(6t - 8)]? :rolleyes:

    Heh, this is probably a silly question, but thanks very much in advance for any help! :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    dy/dx is correct, but I can not follow your logic afterwards. d2y/dx2 =d(dy/dx)/dx = (d(dy/dx)/dt)/(dx/dt). Are you sure you did the derivative of the fraction correctly?

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook