BHS Calculus logo

Implicit Differentiation

on the TI-89


If you have a TI-89 Titanium, or if you have downloaded and installed an updated operating system for an older TI-89 (and if you haven't - why not?) then you do NOT need a user-defined function for implicit derivatives. You can use the built-in function:

impDif(equation, independent variable, dependent variable)

For instance, to take the derivative of xy = 4 you would use:



As far as I know, the TI-89 will not perform implicit differentiations directly, but it is relatively easy to program a user-defined function to do the job. It does take, however, a little knowledge beyond elementary calculus.

The idea is based on a theorem from multivariable calculus:

implicit differentiation theorem

where z is a function of both x and y, and partial derivative of z with respect to x is the partial derivative of z with respect to x. This means "take the derivative as if x was the variable, and y (and any other symbol) was a constant." For instance, suppose we want to take the derivative (of y with respect to x) of:

xy2 + x2y = 1

First, bring everything to the left side:

xy2 + x2y - 1 = 0

and then write the expression on the left in the form z = f(x, y):

z = xy2 + x2y - 1

Now, treating x as the variable in the function:

partial derivative with respect to x

and treating y as the variable in the function:

partial derivative with respect to y

so, by the theorem above:

the result

You can verify that this result is correct.

News Flash:

For TI-89 Titanium users, there is a built-in implicit differentiation function. The syntax is:
impDer(equation, independent variable, dependent variable)

(Refer to your user's manual pages 265-266 and 831.)

Automating the Process:

Fortunately, the method described above can easily be automated, because when you ask the TI-89 to take a derivative of a function with respect to a variable, it actually takes a partial derivative of multivariable expressions.

The implicit differentiation function for the TI-89 is:

Define id(f) = -d(f, x)/d(f, y)

Note: This function assumes that the independent variable is "x" and the dependent variable is "y."

Here are the derivatives that were shown above, taken on the TI-89. Notice that you have to be careful to type "x*y" instead of just "xy" - the latter expression is taken to mean the variable named xy and not the product of x and y.

partial derivatives on the TI-89

I called my function "id" for "implicit derivative". It is defined as shown.

the implicit differentiation function

Here is the solution to the problem discussed above.

problem solution

The function shown above is convenient, but it will only find dy/dx. If you want to enter functions of other variables or find other derivatives, you will need to expand your function to enter the independent and dependent variable as shown.

more-complex function

For example, "If sin(rt) = r, what is dr/dt?" Of course, you could convert to x's and y's, (and then convert back to r's and t's!) or solve the problem as shown at right. You should verify (by hand) that this is the correct result.

problem solution

last update November 3, 2008 by JL Stanbrough