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What does this symbol mean?

  1. Jun 19, 2010 #1
    what does the symbol before the first "u" on the left side of the equation mean?

    It is found on this wiki page under the section "derivation in one dimension"


    the wiki page kind of just skipped a step, and didnt explain what the symbol meant


    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2010 #2


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    Science Advisor

    [tex]\partial[/tex]? Indicates a partial derivative.

    I'm not sure I'd say they're skipping a step. The heat equation is a partial differential equation.
    It wouldn't make sense to try to explain it without assuming a knowledge of partial differentiation first. You have to study multivariate calculus before you can study PDEs.
  4. Jun 19, 2010 #3

    The partial derivative

    [tex]\frac{\partial u}{\partial t}[/tex]

    is the derivative of u with respect to t while holding constant any other variables that u depends on. The Khan Academy has two short videos introducing the idea, "Partial Derivatives" and "Partial Derivatives 2", in the Calculus playlist here:

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