Ask Uncle Colin: Why does the constant term vanish? | Colin

Ask Uncle Colin is a chance to ask your burning, possibly embarrassing, maths questions — and to show off your skills at coming up with clever acronyms. Send your questions to colin@flyingcoloursmaths.co.uk and Uncle Colin will do what he can.

Dear Uncle Colin,

When I differentiate $y=2x^2 + 7x + 2$ and apply the $nx^{n-1}$ rule, why do I only apply it to the $2x^2$ and the $7x$ but not the 2?

— Nervous Over Rules, Mathematically A Liability

Hi, NORMAL, and thanks for your message!

There are several ways to answer that, but I’ll limit myself to two.

The first is to say…

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