Finding the Derivative of ln(x)/x: How-To & Steps

Instructor: Laura Pennington

Laura received her Master's degree in Pure Mathematics from Michigan State University. She has 15 years of experience teaching collegiate mathematics at various institutions.

In this lesson, we will see how to use the quotient rule for derivatives to find the derivative of ln(x) / x. After we find out this derivative, we will see how to it might be used in a real world application.

Steps to Solve

Finding the derivative of the function h(x) = ln(x)/x all comes down to noticing that the function h(x) is a quotient of functions. That is, h(x) = f(x) / g(x), where f(x) = ln(x) and g(x) = x. Since we are dealing with a quotient of functions, we are going to make use of the quotient rule for derivatives - makes sense, right?

The quotient rule for derivatives states that the derivative of f(x) / g(x) can be found using the formula (g(x)⋅f ' (x) - f(x)⋅g ' (x)) / (g(x))2.


That's a pretty big formula, but all we need to do is find the different parts involved in the formula, plug them in, and simplify. We can do that! As we said, in the function h(x) = ln(x) / x = f(x) / g(x), we have that f(x) = ln(x) and g(x) = x. All we need to know is the derivatives of both f and g, and we have all the parts we need to use the quotient rule. Thankfully, these derivatives are really well known!

  • The derivative of ln(x) is 1/x, so f ' (x) = 1/x.
  • The derivative of x is 1, so g ' (x) = 1.

Great! We have all our parts, now let's plug them into the quotient rule and find the derivative of ln(x) / x.


We see that the derivative of h(x) = ln(x) / x is (1 - ln(x)) / x2. That quotient rule really makes this problem fairly easy to solve!


The derivative of ln(x) / x is (1 - ln(x)) / x2.


Now that we know how to find the derivative of ln(x) / x, let's talk about how this new-found knowledge might be useful. That is, let's talk about sugar! Wait, what? You might be wondering how this problem relates to sugar. Well, let's find out!

You may know that when we eat a sugary snack, our blood sugar spikes and then slowly goes back down. Well, take a look at the graph of h(x) = ln(x) / x.


See how the graph increases quickly, or spikes, and then slowly goes back down towards zero? Well, this is exactly what we just said our blood sugar does when we eat a sugary snack!

Suppose you just ate something deliciously sweet, and the spike in your blood sugar is modeled by our function h(x) = ln(x) / x, where h(x) is the amount of change in your blood sugar (in millimoles per liter) after you eat your snack, and x is the number of minutes that have passed since you ate the snack.

The derivative of this function, which we just found to be h ' (x) = (1 - ln(x)) / x2, gives us the rate at which this function is increasing or decreasing. In other words, the derivative can give us the rate at which your blood sugar is rising or falling after x minutes.

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