# Definition--Calculus Topics--Derivative of a Composite Function

Calculus

## Definition

The derivative of a composite function f(g(x)) is given by the Chain Rule: (f(g(x)))' = f'(g(x)) * g'(x), where f'(g(x)) is the derivative of f evaluated at g(x), and g'(x) is the derivative of g.

## Description

The derivative of a composite function, often calculated using the Chain Rule, is a fundamental concept in calculus with wide-ranging applications. It's crucial for analyzing complex systems where one quantity depends on another, which in turn depends on a third. In physics, it's used to calculate rates of change in multi-step processes; in economics, it helps model the ripple effects of economic factors; and in engineering, it's essential for optimizing complex systems.

In mathematics education, understanding how to differentiate composite functions helps students grasp the interconnectedness of mathematical operations and how changes propagate through linked functions. It's a key skill for solving real-world problems that involve multiple dependent variables and prepares students for more advanced topics in calculus and its applications.

Teacher's Script: "Let's consider a practical example. Imagine you're studying the energy consumption of a city, where the energy use (E) depends on the population (P), which in turn depends on time (t). We might have E(P) = 1000P0.8 (energy use in megawatts) and P(t) = 100000e(0.02t) (population after t years). To find how energy consumption is changing over time, we need dE/dt. Using the Chain Rule, we get: dE/dt = dE/dP * dP/dt. Can you work out this derivative? What does the result tell us about the city's energy consumption growth?"

For a complete collection of terms related to Calculus click on this link: Calculus Vocabulary Collection.

Common Core Standards CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.C.7, CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.BF.A.1.C 11 - 12 Algebra     • Advanced Topics in Algebra         • Calculus Vocabulary 2023 calculus concepts, limits, derivatives, integrals, composite functions