1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_equation

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

    Thakns!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2010 #2

    alxm

    User Avatar
    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
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_derivative

    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:

    http://www.khanacademy.org/
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook