Statistics How To

Proof of the Derivative Tan x: Easy Steps

Calculus > Proof of the Derivative Tan x

The derivative tan x is sec2x:

There are a couple of ways to prove the derivative tan x. You could start with the definition of a derivative and prove the rule using trigonometric identities. But there’s actually a much easier way, which relies only on trig identities and a little algebra, skipping the need for using the definition of a derivative at all.

Proof of the Derivative Tan x: Steps

Sample problem: Prove the derivative tan x is sec2x.

Step 1: Write out the derivative tan x as being equal to the derivative of the trigonometric identity sin x / cos x:
proof of the derivative tan x

Step 2: Use the quotient rule to get:

Step 3: Use algebra to simplify:

Step 4: Substitute the trigonometric identity sin(x) + cos2(x) = 1:

Step 5: Substitute the trigonometric identity 1/cos2x=sec2x to get the final answer:
d/dx tan x = sec2x
That’s it!


If you prefer an online interactive environment to learn R and statistics, this free R Tutorial by Datacamp is a great way to get started. If you're are somewhat comfortable with R and are interested in going deeper into Statistics, try this Statistics with R track.

Comments are now closed for this post. Need help or want to post a correction? Please post a comment on our Facebook page and I'll do my best to help!
Proof of the Derivative Tan x: Easy Steps was last modified: January 10th, 2018 by Stephanie