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

Instructor: Laura Pennington

Laura has taught collegiate mathematics and holds a master's degree in pure mathematics.

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.


dervlnxx1


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.


dervlnxx2


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!

Solution

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

Application

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.


dervlnxx3


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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support