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1. When faced with multiple comparison options, decide which one is most important for you to compare.
First, a parser analyzes the mathematical function. It transforms it into a form that is better understandable by a computer, namely a tree (see figure below). In doing this, the Derivative Calculator has to respect the order of operations. A specialty in mathematical expressions is that the multiplication sign can be left out sometimes, for example we write "5x" instead of "5*x". The Derivative Calculator has to detect these cases and insert the multiplication sign.When the "Go!" button is clicked, the Derivative Calculator sends the mathematical function and the settings (differentiation variable and order) to the server, where it is analyzed again. This time, the function gets transformed into a form that can be understood by the computer algebra system Maxima.
Displaying the steps of calculation is a bit more involved, because the Derivative Calculator can't completely depend on Maxima for this task. Instead, the derivatives have to be calculated manually step by step. The rules of differentiation (product rule, quotient rule, chain rule, …) have been implemented in JavaScript code. There is also a table of derivative functions for the trigonometric functions and the square root, logarithm and exponential function. In each calculation step, one differentiation operation is carried out or rewritten. For example, constant factors are pulled out of differentiation operations and sums are split up (sum rule). This, and general simplifications, is done by Maxima. For each calculated derivative, the LaTeX representations of the resulting mathematical expressions are tagged in the HTML code so that highlighting is possible. Take note that the calculator respects order of operations, which is a mathematical convention that establishes which operations are performed before others in a mathematical expression that has more than one operation. The order is as follows: parentheses, exponentiation (including square roots), multiplications and divisions (from left to right), additions and subtractions (from left to right). With respect to order of operations, the value of the expression (Source: www.ets.org)