In calculus, a branch of mathematics, the derivative is a measurement of how a function changes when the values of its inputs change. Loosely speaking, a derivative can be thought of as how much a quantity is changing at some given point. For example, the derivative of the position or distance of a car at some point in time is the instantaneous velocity, or instantaneous speed (respectively), at which that car is traveling (conversely the integral of the velocity is the car's position).
A closely related notion is the differential of a function.
The derivative of a function at a chosen input value describes the best linear approximation of the function near that input value. For a real-valued function of a single real variable, the derivative at a point equals the slope of the tangent line to the graph of the function at that point. In higher dimensions, the derivative of a function at a point is a linear transformation called the linearization..
The process of finding a derivative is called differentiation. The fundamental theorem of calculus states that differentiation is the reverse process to integration.