## Alternative Definition for the Differentiability of Single-Variable Functions

#### Show the alternative definition for differentiability of single-variable functions

Let’s start with a function $$f$$ of single variable $$x$$. The derivative of $$f$$ at the point $$x$$ is $\lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}=f'(x)$
if this limit exists. Let’s define $$\phi(h)$$ as
$\phi(h)=\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}-f'(x).$
Although $$\phi(h)$$ is not defined at $$h=0$$, but*

$\lim_{h\rightarrow 0} \phi(h)=0.$

* In general, for a function $$g(x)$$ suppose  $$\lim_{x\rightarrow a}g(x)=L$$. Because $$\lim_{x\rightarrow a}(g(x)-L)=0$$ if we define $$\phi(x)$$ as $$\phi(x)=g(x)-L$$, then $$\lim_{x\to 0}\phi(x)=0$$.

We can write (if $$h\neq 0$$):
$\phi(h)=\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}-f'(x)\Rightarrow f(x+h)-f(x)=f'(x) h+h \phi(h)$
or
\begin{aligned} f(x+h)=f(x)+f'(x) h+h\phi(h)\end{aligned}

Let’s define $$\varepsilon(h)$$ by:
$\varepsilon(h)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} \phi(h) & \text{if } h>0\\ -\phi(h) & \text{if } h<0 \end{array} \right.$
Therefore, if $$f(x)$$ is differentiable, there exists a function $$\varepsilon(h)$$ such that
$f(x+h)=f(x)+f'(x)h+|h|\varepsilon(h),$
and $$\varepsilon(h)\rightarrow0$$ as $$h\rightarrow0$$.

Recall that $$f(x)+f'(x)h$$ is the linearization of $$f$$ at the point $$x$$. Therefore $$|h|\varepsilon(h)$$ is the error in this approximation. Eq. (i) means that if $$f'(x)$$ exists, the function $$f$$ can be approximated by its linear approximation and the growth of the error is nothing compared to $$|h|$$, that is error$$|h|\rightarrow 0$$ as $$h\to0$$ , where $$|h|$$ is the distance of the point $$(x+h)$$ from the point $$x$$.

Conversely, suppose there exists a number $$a$$ and a function $$\varepsilon(h)$$ such that
$\label{Eq:Diff-1D} f(x+h)=f(x)+ah+|h|\varepsilon(h), \quad \text{and}\quad \lim_{h\to 0}\varepsilon(h)=0.\tag{i}$
Dividing both sides by $$h\neq 0$$:
$\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}=a+\frac{|h|}{h}\varepsilon(h)$
and taking the limit as $$h\to 0$$:
$\lim_{h\to 0}\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}=a+\underbrace{\lim_{h\to 0} \frac{|h|}{h}\varepsilon(h)}_{=0} \Rightarrow \lim_{h\to 0}\frac{f(x+h)-f(x)}{h}=a.$
This means the derivative of $$f$$ at the point $$x$$ exists and is equal to $$a$$:
$f'(x)=a.$

Therefore, we can define the differentiability of a function $$f$$ at the point $$x$$ as the existence of a number $$a$$ and a function $$\varepsilon$$ that satisfy Eq. (i). We can extend the definition for functions of two or more variables.

## Differentiability of Two-Variable Functions

Let $$z=f(x,y)$$. We say $$f$$ is differentiable at the point $$(x,y)$$ if there exist two numbers $$a$$ and $$b$$, and a function $$\varepsilon(h,k)$$ such that:
$f(x+h,y+k)=f(x,y)+ah+bk+\underbrace{\left|(h,k)\right|}_{=\sqrt{h^2+h^2}}\varepsilon(h,k)$
and**

$\lim_{(h,k)\rightarrow (0,0)}\varepsilon(h,k)=0.$

** Note that the magnitude (or the absolute value) of a vector $$(h,k)$$ is: $$|(h,k)|=\sqrt{h^2+k^2}$$

If such an approximation is valid, let $$k=0$$, divide both sides by $$h\neq 0$$ and take the limit $$h\to 0$$, then we will have:
$\underbrace{\lim_{h\to 0} \frac{f(x+h,y)-f(x,y)}{h}}_{=f_x(x,y)}=a+\underbrace{\lim_{h\to 0}\frac{\sqrt{h^2}}{h}\varepsilon(h,0)}_{=0}\Rightarrow f_x(x,y)=a.$
Similarly, we can show: $f_y(x,y)=b$

Definition 1. We say a function $$f$$ is differentiable at the point $$(x,y)$$ if its partial derivatives $$f_x(x,y)$$ and $$f_y(x,y)$$ exist and there exists a function $$\varepsilon$$ such that:
$f(x+h,y+k)=f(x,y)+f_x(x,y)h+f_y(x,y)k+\sqrt{h^2+k^2}\varepsilon(h,k)$
and
$\lim_{(h,k)\rightarrow (0,0)}\varepsilon(h,k)=0.$

The above definition means that if $$f(x,y)$$ is differentiable, it can be approximated by its linearization and the growth of the error in this approximation, $$\sqrt{h^2+k^2}\varepsilon(h,k)$$, is nothing compared to the growth of $$\rho$$, where $$\rho=\sqrt{h^2+k^2}$$ is the distance of the point $$(x+h,y+k)$$ from the point $$(x,y)$$.

Example 1
Show that $$f$$ is differentiable at each point $$(x,y)$$ if $f(x,y)=2x+3y^2$
Solution
First let’s compute $$f_x(x,y)$$ and $$f_y(x,y)$$
$f_x(x,y)=2,\quad f_y(x,y)=6y$

Now let’s form $$f(x+h,y+k)$$:
\begin{aligned} f(x+h,y+k)&=2(x+h)+3(y+k)^2\\ &=2x+2h+3(y^2+2yk+k^2)\\ &=\underbrace{2x+3y^2}_{f(x,y)}+\underbrace{2}_{f_x(x,y)}h+\underbrace{6y}_{f_y(x,y)}k+3k^2\end{aligned}
If we call $$\varepsilon(h,k)=\frac{3k^2}{\sqrt{h^2+k^2}}$$, then we have shown
$f(x+h,y+k)=f(x,y)+f_x(x,y)h+f_y(x,y)k+\sqrt{h^2+k^2}\varepsilon(h,k).$
The last step is to show $$\lim_{(h,k)\rightarrow (0,0)}\varepsilon(h,k)=0$$. To this end, we can use polar coordinates
$h=r\cos\theta,\quad k=r\sin\theta$
Now $$(h,k)\to(0,0)$$ is equivalent to $$r\to 0$$. Therefore:
\begin{aligned} \lim_{(h,k)\rightarrow (0,0)}\varepsilon(h,k)&=\lim_{(h,k)\rightarrow (0,0)}\frac{3k^2}{\sqrt{h^2+k^2}}\\ &=\lim_{r\rightarrow 0}\frac{3r\sin^2\theta}{r\underbrace{\sqrt{\cos^2\theta+\sin^2\theta}}_{=1}}\\ &=\lim_{r\rightarrow 0} 3r\sin\theta=0.\end{aligned}
[Because $$-r\leq r\sin\theta\leq r$$ and $$\lim_{r\to 0} r=0$$, if we use the squeeze theorem, we could conclude $$\lim_{r\rightarrow 0} 3r\sin\theta=0$$.]

Therefore, we have proved that $$f(x,y)$$ is differentiable at each $$(x,y)$$.

From the definition of differentiability it is clear that if a function is differentiable at $$(x,y)$$ then it is continuous there. Therefore, if a function is not continuous, it cannot be differentiable.

Take the limit $$(h,k)\to(0,0)$$ from both sides, and remember that $$f_x(x,y)$$ and $$f_y(x,y)$$ are the values of $$f_x$$ and $$f_y$$ at $$(x,y)$$ not two functions of $$h$$ or $$k$$, so they are just two constants.

differentiability $$\Rightarrow$$ continuity

Also according to Definition 1, if a function is differentiable, its first partial derivatives exist. Therefore, if any of the first partial derivatives of a function does not exist at a point, the function is not differentiable at that point.

differentiability $$\Rightarrow$$ existence of first partial derivatives

Example 2

Show that $$f(x,y)$$ is not differentiable at $$(0,0)$$ if $f(x,y)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} \frac{xy}{x^2+y^2} & \text{if } (x,y)\neq (0,0)\\ 0 & \text{if } (x,y)= (0,0) \end{array} \right.$

Solution

In Example 5 of the Section on Limits and Continuity, we showed that $$\lim_{(x,y)\to (0,0)}f(x,y)$$ does not exist. Therefore, $$f$$ is discontinuous at $$(0,0)$$. A discontinuous function cannot be differentiable.

Also in Example 2 of the Section on Linear Approximation, we showed that $$f_x(0,0)=f_y(0,0)=0$$ and the linearization of $$f$$ does not provide a good approximation for $$f$$ at $$(0,0)$$. So the existence of the partial derivatives does not guarantee that the function is differentiable or even continuous.

Using Definition 1 to verify whether a function is differentiable is often hard. Here we introduce a theorem that can be applied to most functions to show that they are differentiable.

Theorem 1. If the first partial derivatives of a function $$f$$ exist in some neighborhood of $$\mathbf{x}_0$$ and are continuous at $$\mathbf{x}_0$$, then $$f$$ is differentiable at $$\mathbf{x}_0$$.

Example 3

Use Theorem 1 to show that $$f$$ is differentiable everywhere if $f(x,y)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} \frac{x^2y^2}{x^2+y^2} & \text{if } (x,y)\neq (0,0)\\ 0 & \text{if }(x,y)= (0,0) \end{array} \right.$ Figure 1. Graph of $$z=\dfrac{x^2y^2}{x^2+y^2}$$
Solution

To find $$f_x$$ and $$f_y$$, we have to consider two cases: (1) $$(x,y)=(0,0)$$ and (2) $$(x,y)\neq (0,0)$$.

Case (1): To calculate $$f_x(0,0)$$ and $$f_y(0,0)$$, we need to use the definition of partial derivatives (similar to Example 2 of the Section on Linear Approximation):
$f_x(0,0)=\lim_{h\to 0}\frac{f(0+h,0)-f(0,0)}{h}=\lim_{h\to 0}\frac{0-0}{h}=0,$
$f_y(0,0)=\lim_{k\to 0}\frac{f(0,0+k)-f(0,0)}{k}=\lim_{k\to 0}\frac{0-0}{k}=0,$

Case (2): If $$(x,y)\neq(0,0)$$, we can differentiate $$f$$ with respect to $$x$$ while treating $$y$$ as a constant to find $$f_x(x,y)$$ and differentiate $$f(x,y)$$ with respect to $$y$$, while treating $$x$$ as a constant to find $$f_y(x,y)$$ (although because of symmetry of $$x$$ and $$y$$, to find $$f_y(x,y)$$, we just need to replace $$x$$ by $$y$$ and $$y$$ by $$x$$ in the formula of $$f_x(x,y)$$). We have
\begin{aligned} f_x(x,y)&=\frac{2xy^2(x^2+y^2)-2x(x^2y^2)}{(x^2+y^2)^2}=\frac{2xy^4}{(x^2+y^2)^2},\\ f_y(x,y)&=\frac{2yx^4}{(x^2+y^2)^2}.\end{aligned}
Therefore:
$f_x(x,y)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} \frac{2xy^4}{(x^2+y^2)^2} & \text{if }(x,y)\neq (0,0)\\ 0 & \text{if }(x,y)= (0,0) \end{array} \right.$
and
$f_y(x,y)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll} \frac{2x^4y}{(x^2+y^2)^2} & \text{if }(x,y)\neq (0,0)\\ 0 & \text{if }(x,y)= (0,0) \end{array} \right.$
It is clear that when $$(x,y)\neq (0,0)$$, $$f_x(x,y)$$ and $$f_y(x,y)$$ are continuous, because the numerators and denominators are continuous functions and the the ratio of two continuous functions is a continuous function if the denominator is nonzero (recall . We just need to show that $$f_x$$ and $$f_y$$ are continuous at $$(0,0)$$. To this end, again we can use polar coordinates:
$x=r\cos \theta,\quad y=r\sin\theta.$
In polar coordinates $$(x,y)\to(0,0)$$ is equivalent to $$r\to 0$$:
$\lim_{(x,y)\to(0,0)}\frac{2xy^4}{(x^2+y^2)^2}=\lim_{r\to 0}\frac{2r^5 \cos\theta\sin^4\theta}{r^4\underbrace{(\cos^2\theta+\sin^2\theta)^2}_{=1}}=\lim_{r\to 0} 2r\cos\theta\sin^4\theta=0.$

So we have shown $$\lim_{(x,y)\to(0,0)}f_x(x,y)=f_x(0,0)=0$$, that is $$f_x$$ is continuous at $$(0,0)$$. In a similar way, you can show that $$\lim_{(x,y)\to(0,0)}f_y(x,y)=f_y(0,0)=0$$. Therefore $$f$$ has continuous first partial derivatives at each $$(x,y)$$. So according to Theorem 1, $$f$$ is differentiable everywhere.

## Differentiability of  Functions in n-Space

At the end of this section, we can extend the concept of differentiability of functions of several variables:

Definition 2. We say a function $$f:U\subseteq \mathbb{R}^n\to \mathbb{R}$$ is differentiable at $$(x_1,\cdots,x_n)$$, if its first partial derivatives $$\frac{\partial f}{\partial x_i}(x_1,\cdots,x_n)$$ (for $$i=1,\cdots,n$$) exist and there exists a function $$\varepsilon(h_1,\cdots,h_n)$$ such that:
\begin{align}
f(x_1+h_1,\cdots,x_n+h_n)=f&(x_1,\dots,x_n)+\frac{\partial f}{\partial x_1}\cdot h_1+\cdots+\frac{\partial f}{\partial x_n}\cdot h_n\\
&+\sqrt{h_1^2+\cdots+h_n^2}\ \varepsilon(h_1,\cdots,h_n)\tag{i}
\end{align}
and
$\lim_{(h_1,\cdots,h_n)\to(0,\cdots,0)} \varepsilon(h_1,\cdots,h_n)=0.$
The partial derivatives are evaluated at $$(x_1,\cdots,x_n)$$.

• Equation (i) can also be written as $f(\mathbf{x}+\mathbf{h})=f(\mathbf{x})+\sum_{i=1}^n \frac{\partial f}{\partial x_i} h_i+|\mathbf{h}|\varepsilon(\mathbf{h}),$ with $\mathbf{x}=(x_1,\dots,x_n)$, $\mathbf{h}=(h_1,\dots,h_n)$, and $\lim_{\mathbf{h}\to\mathbf{0}}\varepsilon(\mathbf{h})=0.$

## Continuous Differentiability and Functions of Class $C^p$

A function that has continuous first partial derivatives is called continuously differentiable or a function of class $$C^1$$. A function that not only its first partial derivatives are continuous but also all its second partial derivatives are continuous is called twice continuously differentiable or a function of class $$C^2$$. In the same manner we can define function of class $$C^3$$, $$C^4$$, and so on. A function that has continuous partial derivatives of all orders is called a $$C^\infty$$ function. A function that is continuous is referred to a function of class $$C^0$$.

Definition 3.Let $f$ be defined on an open set $U\subseteq \mathbb{R}^n$. We say $f$ is of class $C^p$ in $U$ if all the partial derivatives of $f$ of order $\leq p$ are continuous everywhere in $U$.

 Mathematically, this is often written as $$error=o(|h|)$$