Given a function $f$ of $n$ variables, and given $n$ functions $\{g_i\}$ of one variable, then the *total derivative* of the composite function $t \mapsto f(g_1(t),\cdots, g_n(t))$ is (if it exists) simply its derivative with respect to $t$, but understood as a linear combinationof the partial derivatives of $f$, via the chain rule:

$\frac{d f}{d t}
=
\sum_i
\frac{\partial f}{\partial g_i}
\,
\frac{d g_i}{d t}
\,.$

This has various evident generalizations. One is the horizontal derivative in variational calculus, see at *variational bicomplex*.

Last revised on September 13, 2017 at 18:28:34. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.