A power function is any function of the form f(x) = xa, where a is any real number.
The following are all power functions:
The following are all power functions, written deceptively.The function
is a power function since it can be written as
f(x) = x1/2
f(x) = x.5.
is also a power function, since this can be written as
g(x) = x–6.
f(x) = xx
is not a power function, because the exponent is a variable instead of a constant.
We usually assume the exponent a isn't 0, because if a is 0 we find a power function. The function
f(x) = x0 = 1
is a constant function, and we already know how to deal with those.
Now that we've got an idea of what a power function is we can talk about their derivatives. Luckily, there's a handy rule we can use to find the derivative of any power function that we want.
Given a power function, f(x) = xa, the power rule tells us that
f '(x) = axa – 1
To find the derivative, just take the power, put in front and then subtract 1 from the power.
Using this rule, we can quickly find the derivative of any power function. The derivative of x2 is 2x, x1.5 is 1.5x0.5, and xπ is πxπ – 1.
No matter the power function, we can find its derivative.