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Calculus 1A: Differentiation

Discover the derivative—what it is, how to compute it, and when to apply it in solving real world problems. Part 1 of 3.

This course is archived
Estimated 13 weeks
6–10 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip 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.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Math
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    Algebra and Trigonometry (Precalculus)

What you'll learn

Skip 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

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

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