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The Calculus of Love

October 28, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Love Calculus

For those of you who have forgotten your calculus … let me explain: he will say “I love you” when the slope of the tangent to the growth curve of his love has reached zero. This indicates of a local maximum and means that the rate of growth (the velocity of love, as it were) has slowed to a stop


As Judy and I were discussing his response, we found it concerning on several levels. Firstly, if the curve of his love is akin to figure (a) then after he says I love you, he will actually begin to love her less. Which bodeth not well for their long term relationship survival. So then, let’s be generous and suggest the curve of his love is better approximated by figure (b), where the plateau of zero growth might indicate the end of honeymoon/infatuation-type love (a bit late, but not a BAD time to say I love you), which then moves on promptly on to another growth phase, the build up of life-long-partnership-love and the having of babies.


But the second distressing aspect of the whole affair was that somewhere along the line Judy had also mentioned the term “second derivative.” And neither of us could actually remember what this was. We both recalled HOW to take a second derivative (indeed Judy and I took calculus together many years ago), but we couldn’t remember what it actually meant.


After searching in the index and finding some helpful examples, we remembered that AHA! the second derivative is akin to acceleration: the rate of rate of growth. And by solving for the second derivative – d2 (love)/dt2 – we could ensure that when d(love)/dt = 0, it is a local maximum (the greatest love), not a local minimum (not the greatest love of all). For when the second derivative is negative = local maximum, as in figure (a); when positive, it’s a local minimum, as in figure (c) … All is happy. 


The correct answer is D …

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