• Length:
    13 Weeks
  • Effort:
    6–10 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
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  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Prerequisites

Algebra and Trigonometry (Precalculus)

About this course

How does the final velocity on a zip line change when the starting point is raised or lowered by a matter of centimeters? What is the accuracy of a GPS position measurement? How fast should an airplane travel to minimize fuel consumption? The answers to all of these questions involve the derivative.

But what is the derivative? You will learn its mathematical notation, physical meaning, geometric interpretation, and be able to move fluently between these representations of the derivative. You will discover how to differentiate any function you can think up, and develop a powerful intuition to be able to sketch the graph of many functions. You will make linear and quadratic approximations of functions to simplify computations and gain intuition for system behavior. You will learn to maximize and minimize functions to optimize properties like cost, efficiency, energy, and power.

The three modules in this series are being offered as an XSeries on edX. Please visit Single Variable Calculus XSeries Program Page to learn more and to enroll in the modules.

Learn more about our High School and AP* Exam Preparation Courses

This course was funded in part by the Wertheimer Fund.

*Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these offerings.

What you'll learn

  • How to evaluate limits graphically and numerically
  • The physical meaning, and geometric interpretation of the derivative
  • To calculate the derivative of any function
  • To sketch many functions by hand
  • To make linear and quadratic approximations of functions
  • To apply derivatives to maximize and minimize functions and find related rates

Abridged Syllabus

Limits

  1. Limit Laws
  2. Continuity
  3. Intermediate Value Theorem

Differentiation

  1. Introducing the Derivative
  2. Rules for differentiation of all known functions
  3. Approximations

Applications of Differentiation

  1. Curve Sketching
  2. Optimization
  3. Related Rates

 

Meet your instructors

David Jerison
Professor of Mathematics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Gigliola Staffilani
Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Mathematics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jennifer French
Lecturer & Digital Learning Scientist
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen Wang
Associate Teaching Professor
Rice University

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Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.