I would like to understand, how to obtain gradients of the PDE solution obtained with NDSolve. To be precise let us consider a Laplace equation from one of the examples:

    Clear[x, y, f];
emesh = ToElementMesh[Disk[]];

f = NDSolveValue[{Derivative[0, 2][u][x, y] + 
Derivative[2, 0][u][x, y] == 0, 
   DirichletCondition[u[x, y] == Sin[x y], True]}, 
  u, {x, y} ∈ emesh]

This returns the interpolation function which one can plot and integrate:

    NIntegrate[f[x, y], {x, y} ∈ emesh]

(*  1.52794*10^-8  *)

Plot3D[f[x, y], {x, y} ∈ emesh]

enter image description here

This, however, does not work:

  g[x_, y_] := D[f[x, y], x];
Plot3D[g[x, y], {x, y} ∈ emesh]

Since Integrate does not work on this result, only NIntegratedoes, the problem is probably that one needs to apply a numeric derivative. What and how?

  • $\begingroup$ Duplicate: 1301. Also related: 48383, 50791, 69188. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelE2 but this is completely different: its on a mesh :-) $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @chris I'm a little slow to understand the ":-)" -- I thought you would object that it's a two-variable function (instead of single-variable). :-) $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael E2 Thank you for the most useful references $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2015 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


That's an easy one:

g[x_, y_] = D[f[x, y], x];
Plot3D[g[x, y], {x, y} \[Element] emesh]

Mathematica graphics

Note the : in the definition of g :-)

  • $\begingroup$ You beat me to it by a few seconds :-) $\endgroup$
    – user21
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @user21 I think I learnt it from one of your posts! $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If one wanted it to be SetDelayed for some reason one could also do g[x_, y_] := Evaluate[D[f[x, y], x]]; $\endgroup$
    – user21
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ @user21 feel free to answer this question instead mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/84726/1089 :-) it is more in your league ! $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ One can also use g = Derivative[1, 0][f]. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:09

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