Linearity of differentiation

Linearity of differentiation

In mathematics, the linearity of differentiation is a most fundamental property of the derivative, in differential calculus. It follows from the sum rule in differentiation and the constant factor rule in differentiation. Thus it can be said that the act of differentiation is linear, or the differential operator is a linear operator.

Let f and g be functions, with alpha and beta fixed. Now consider:

frac{mbox{d}}{mbox{d} x} (alpha cdot f(x) + beta cdot g(x) )

By the sum rule in differentiation, this is:

frac{mbox{d}}{mbox{d} x} (alpha cdot f(x) ) + frac{mbox{d}}{mbox{d} x} (beta cdot g(x))

By the constant factor rule in differentiation, this reduces to:

alpha cdot f'(x) + beta cdot g'(x)

This in turn leads to:

frac{mbox{d}}{mbox{d} x}(alpha cdot f(x) + beta cdot g(x)) = alpha cdot f'(x) + beta cdot g'(x)

Omitting the brackets, this is often written as:

(alpha cdot f + beta cdot g)' = alpha cdot f'+ beta cdot g'

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