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Concept# Differential calculus

Summary

In mathematics, differential calculus is a subfield of calculus that studies the rates at which quantities change. It is one of the two traditional divisions of calculus, the other being integral calculus—the study of the area beneath a curve.
The primary objects of study in differential calculus are the derivative of a function, related notions such as the differential, and their applications. The derivative of a function at a chosen input value describes the rate of change of the function near that input value. The process of finding a derivative is called differentiation. Geometrically, the derivative at a point is the slope of the tangent line to the graph of the function at that point, provided that the derivative exists and is defined at that point. For a real-valued function of a single real variable, the derivative of a function at a point generally determines the best linear approximation to the function at that point.
Differential calculus and integral calculus are connected by the fundamental theorem of calculus, which states that differentiation is the reverse process to integration.
Differentiation has applications in nearly all quantitative disciplines. In physics, the derivative of the displacement of a moving body with respect to time is the velocity of the body, and the derivative of the velocity with respect to time is acceleration. The derivative of the momentum of a body with respect to time equals the force applied to the body; rearranging this derivative statement leads to the famous F = ma equation associated with Newton's second law of motion. The reaction rate of a chemical reaction is a derivative. In operations research, derivatives determine the most efficient ways to transport materials and design factories.
Derivatives are frequently used to find the maxima and minima of a function. Equations involving derivatives are called differential equations and are fundamental in describing natural phenomena.

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Differentiable manifold

In mathematics, a differentiable manifold (also differential manifold) is a type of manifold that is locally similar enough to a vector space to allow one to apply calculus. Any manifold can be described by a collection of charts (atlas). One may then apply ideas from calculus while working within the individual charts, since each chart lies within a vector space to which the usual rules of calculus apply. If the charts are suitably compatible (namely, the transition from one chart to another is differentiable), then computations done in one chart are valid in any other differentiable chart.

Notation for differentiation

In differential calculus, there is no single uniform notation for differentiation. Instead, various notations for the derivative of a function or variable have been proposed by various mathematicians. The usefulness of each notation varies with the context, and it is sometimes advantageous to use more than one notation in a given context. The most common notations for differentiation (and its opposite operation, the antidifferentiation or indefinite integration) are listed below.

Ordinary differential equation

In mathematics, an ordinary differential equation (ODE) is a differential equation (DE) dependent on only a single independent variable. As with other DE, its unknown(s) consists of one (or more) function(s) and involves the derivatives of those functions. The term "ordinary" is used in contrast with partial differential equations which may be with respect to one independent variable. A linear differential equation is a differential equation that is defined by a linear polynomial in the unknown function and its derivatives, that is an equation of the form where a_0(x), .

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