Generalized function, derivative of a

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A weak extension of the operation of ordinary differentiation. Let be a generalized function, . The generalized (weak) derivative

of order is defined by the equation


Since the operation is linear and continuous from into , the functional defined by the right-hand side of (*) is a generalized function in . If , then for all with .

The following properties hold for the derivatives of a generalized function: the operation is linear and continuous from into ; any generalized function in is infinitely differentiable (in the generalized sense); the result of differentiation does not depend on the order; the Leibniz formula is valid for the differentiation of a product , when ; and .

Let . It may happen that a certain generalized derivative can be identified with some -function. In this case is a generalized derivative of function type.


1) , where is the Heaviside function and is the Dirac function (cf. Delta-function for both).

2) The general solution of the equation in the class is an arbitrary constant.

3) The trigonometric series

converges in and it can be differentiated term-by-term in infinitely many times.


[1] L. Schwartz, "Théorie des distributions" , 1 , Hermann (1950)
[2] S.L. Sobolev, "Applications of functional analysis in mathematical physics" , Amer. Math. Soc. (1963) (Translated from Russian)



[a1] K. Yosida, "Functional analysis" , Springer (1980) pp. Chapt. 8, Sect. 4; 5
[a2] L.V. Hörmander, "The analysis of linear partial differential operators" , 1 , Springer (1983)
How to Cite This Entry:
Generalized function, derivative of a. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:,_derivative_of_a&oldid=17641
This article was adapted from an original article by V.S. Vladimirov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article