I have a function which has real and imaginary parts and I need to differentiate both parts separately. This is a simpler example of what I have tried, without success:

f[x_] = x^2 + I x^3
g[x_] = Re[f[x]]
h[x_] = g'[x] 

but h[1] gives me -3 Im'[1] + 2 Re'[1]

How can I find such derivatives?

  • $\begingroup$ D[f[x], x] or f'[x] or f'[1] gives you the derivatives of the real and imaginary parts simultaneously. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2018 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ How then can I extract, as a function, only the derivative of the imaginary part? $\endgroup$
    – NeonGabu
    Oct 9, 2018 at 8:20

2 Answers 2


Mma does not know in advance if x is real, or complex. Indeed, if one defines your function and tries to get its real part:

f[x_] := x^2 + I x^3

(* -Im[x^3] + Re[x^2] *)

Mma returns the result as if x were complex. One can use the functionality of Simplify, to fix it:

Simplify[ Re[f[x]], x \[Element] Reals]
Simplify[ Im[f[x]], x \[Element] Reals]

(*  x^2

x^3   *)

There is, however another way, that may seem you comfortable. Assuming f[x], has already been defined, let us define its imaginary and real parts as follows:

    Ref[x_] := (List @@ f[x])[[1]]
IImf[x_] := (List @@ f[x])[[2]]


    D[Ref[x], x]
D[IImf[x], x]

(*  2 x

3 I x^2  *)

Have fun!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ ComplexExpand[] will automatically assume real variables unless explicitly told otherwise. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2018 at 10:17


f[x_] := x^2 + I x^3
g[x_] := Re[f[x]]
h[x_] = g'[x] // ComplexExpand




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