I cannot get the partial derivative of a set of data. I managed to get the accurate interpolation, but I cannot evaluate its derivatives.

Here are my details:

data = Import["data.dat"];

The data set looks like this:


{2, 38, -0.000307893533656}, 
{2, 39, -0.000307922246488},
{2, 40, -0.000307952337061}, 
{3, 0, -0.000461750353095},
{3, 1, -0.000462600240141}, 
{3, 2, -0.000463450127186}, 
{3, 3, -0.000464294338731},
{3, 4, -0.000464294338731}

The 3D Interpolation looks good:

 pot = Interpolation[data]

enter image description here

And the Plot3D does too:

ListPlot3D[data, ColorFunction -> "SouthwestColors"]

enter image description here

There is a slight change along y (unnoticeable from Plot3D), I want to get the derivative for this function (which is along y):

Plot[ pot[50, y], {y, 0, 40} ]

enter image description here

When I use Derivative I get this, unable to even extract a value:

 pot'[50, y]

enter image description here enter image description here

Not getting a function at all...

 Plot[pot'[50, y], {y, 0, 40}]

enter image description here

What is the smart way to get the gradient of the 3D interpolated function? I also tried 'Gradient' without success:

Gradient[pot[x, y]]
VectorPlot[Gradient[pot[x, y]], {x, 0, 100}, {y, 0, 40}]

enter image description here

What must I do?


1 Answer 1


You can use Derivative[0, 1][int] to get the first derivative of int with respect to your second variable $y$.

To illustrate, let's create some data and interpolate:

data = Table[{x, y, Sin[x] + 2 y}, {x, 0., 10.}, {y, 0., 10.}] ~ Flatten ~ 1;
int = Interpolation[data];

Plot3D[int[x, y], {x, 0, 10}, {y, 0, 10}]

3D plot of function

Then obtain the first derivative with respect to x vs. y respectively, and compare them with he expected values (i.e. Cos[x] and $2$, respectively):

    Derivative[1, 0][int][x, 3],
  {x, 0, 10}

plot of 1st derivative wrt x compared to cos(x)

Note that the jumps in the interpolation above are due to the relatively coarse grid on which the interpolation was carried out (i.e. with spacings of only 1 unit). This doesn't matter much here since it's just a made-up example; indeed, in a way it helps to show the two functions separately.

    Derivative[0, 1][int][Pi, y],
  {y, 0, 10}

plot of 1st derivative wrt y compared to the constant 2

  • $\begingroup$ Incredible, very illustrative example. Appreciate your time! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 17:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Joshua Glad to help! $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 17:34

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