|Topics in calculus|
In intuitive terms, if a variable, y, depends on a second variable, u, which in turn depends on a third variable, x; then, the rate of change of y with respect to x can be computed as the product of the rate of change of y with respect to u multiplied by the rate of change of u with respect to x.
Suppose, for example, that one is climbing a mountain at a rate of 0.5 kilometres per hour. The temperature is lower at higher elevations; suppose the rate by which it decreases is 6 °F per kilometre. If one multiplies 6 °F per kilometre by 0.5 kilometre per hour, one obtains 3 °F per hour. This calculation is a typical chain rule application.
In algebraic terms, the chain rule (of one variable) states that if the function f is differentiable at g(x) and the function g is differentiable at x. The chain rule may be stated in any of several equivalent forms:
or in the Leibniz notation
The general power rule
The general power rule (GPR) is derivable, via the chain rule.
Consider . is comparable to where and ; thus,
In order to differentiate the trigonometric function
one can write with and . The chain rule then yields
since and .
Chain rule for several variables
The chain rule works for functions of several variables as well. For example, if we have a function where
- and , and if ,
Proof of the chain rule
Let f and g be functions and let x be a number such that f is differentiable at g(x) and g is differentiable at x. Then by the definition of differentiability,
- where as
- where as
where . Observe that as and . Hence
The fundamental chain rule
The chain rule is a fundamental property of all definitions of derivative and is therefore valid in much more general contexts. For instance, if E, F and G are Banach spaces (which includes Euclidean space) and f : E → F and g : F → G are functions, and if x is an element of E such that f is differentiable at x and g is differentiable at f(x), then the derivative (the Fréchet derivative) of the composition g o f at the point x is given by
Note that the derivatives here are linear maps and not numbers. If the linear maps are represented as matrices (namely Jacobians), the composition on the right hand side turns into a matrix multiplication.
A particularly clear formulation of the chain rule can be achieved in the most general setting: let M, N and P be Ck manifolds (or even Banach-manifolds) and let
- f : M → N and g : N → P
be differentiable maps. The derivative of f, denoted by df, is then a map from the tangent bundle of M to the tangent bundle of N, and we may write
Tensors and the chain rule
Faà di Bruno's formula generalizes the chain rule to higher derivatives. The first few derivatives are