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Finding Numerical Derivatives

While the TI-83+/84+ calculators are not symbolic manipulators (they cannot tell you the algebraic expression for a derivative), they can tell you an approximate numerical value for a derivative at a specific location.  Several methods may be used.

 

Method 1: using nDeriv(expression, variable, value, [])

The nDeriv command uses the symmetric difference quotient method, which approximates the numerical derivative value as the slope of the secant line,  f ' (x) = ( f (x + ) - f (x - )) / 2.  As becomes smaller, the answer becomes more accurate.
Be careful!!!   The use of this method can yield an incorrect answer at non-differentiable points. 
The default value for is 1 E -3.

Find the numerical value of the derivative for the function stated below at the indicated location (express answer to three decimal places).
                     

Step 1:

  Enter the function into Y=

 

Step 2: 

From the HOME screen, hit the  MATH key and arrow down to choice #8 nDeriv(

Step 3: 

The parameters for nDeriv are expression, variable, value.  (A fourth parameter exists involving the size of epsilon and is usually left off.)
Hit ENTER .for the answer. 
 

 

Method 2: using the feature and the graph

Let's examine that same problem again:

Find the numerical value of the derivative for the function stated below at the indicated location (express answer to three decimal places).
                     

Step 1:
  Enter the equation into Y=

Step 2: 

Hit GRAPH.  Be sure that the WINDOW includes the x value that you will be investigating.  If not, adjust the WINDOW.
 

Step 3:

Hit the MATH key and choose
#6 dy/dx. 
Hit ENTER

Step 4:

The graph will reappear.
(If more than one graph appears, use the up/down arrows to select the desired graph.)
Use the left and right arrows to locate the point you wish to investigate, or simply type the point.
Hit ENTER.
 

Step 5:

Simply type the desired value on the keypad.  The number will appear below the graph.

 

Step 6:

Hitting ENTER will reveal the answer.

 



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