gives the discrete difference .


gives the multiple difference .


gives the multiple difference with step h.


computes the partial difference with respect to i, j, .

Details and Options

  • DifferenceDelta[f,i] can be input as if. The character is entered diffd or \[DifferenceDelta]. The variable i is entered as a subscript.
  • All quantities that do not explicitly depend on the variables given are taken to have zero partial difference.
  • DifferenceDelta[f,i,j] can be input as i,jf. The character \[InvisibleComma], entered as ,, can be used instead of the ordinary comma.
  • DifferenceDelta[f,{i,n,h}] can be input as { i,n,h }f.
  • DifferenceDelta[f,,Assumptions->assum] uses the assumptions assum in the course of computing discrete differences.


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Basic Examples  (4)

Difference with respect to i:

Difference with step h:

The fifth difference with respect to i:

The second difference with respect to i and step h:

Enter using diffd, and subscripts using :

DifferenceDelta is the inverse operator to Sum:

Scope  (21)

Basic Use  (5)

Compute the first and second difference:

Compute the first and second difference with step h:

The first partial difference :

Higher partial difference :

Partial differences with steps r and s:

DifferenceDelta threads over lists:

Special Sequences  (11)

Polynomial functions:

Each difference will lower the degree by one:

FactorialPower is typically more convenient than Power for discrete operations:

You can always convert to a Power representation through FunctionExpand:

DifferenceDelta on FactorialPower has the same effect as D on Power:

Rational functions:

Differences of rational functions will stay as rational functions:

Negative powers of FactorialPower are rational functions:

Their differences are particularly simple:

Differences of PolyGamma are rational functions:

PolyGamma in discrete calculus plays a role similar to Log in continuous calculus:

HarmonicNumber and Zeta also produce rational function differences:

Exponential functions:

Differences of exponentials stay exponentials:

In general, the n^(th) difference:

Binary powers play the same role for DifferenceDelta that does for D:

Polynomial exponentials:

Polynomial exponentials stay polynomial exponentials:

Rational exponentials:

Rational exponentials stay rational exponentials:

Differences of LerchPhi times exponential are rational exponentials:

Trigonometric and hyperbolic functions:

Differences of trigonometric functions stay trigonometric:

Hypergeometric terms:

A general hypergeometric term is defined by having a rational DiscreteRatio:

The difference of hypergeometric will produce a rational function times a hypergeometric term:

The difference of a q-hypergeometric term is a q-rational multiple of the input:

Holonomic sequences:

Holonomic sequences of order 2:

The difference of GammaRegularized with respect to i is a hypergeometric term:

Similarly for BetaRegularized:

The difference for MarcumQ is expressed in terms of BesselI:

Special Operators  (5)


Differencing under the summation sign:

Differencing with respect to summation limits:


Differencing with respect to product limits:


Differencing integration limits:


Here the i variable is scoped and not free:

Applications  (9)

Sums and Difference Equations  (3)

Verify the answer for an indefinite sum:

Construct an exact difference form:

The indefinite sum may differ by a constant:

Use DifferenceDelta to define difference equations:

Additional Operators  (3)

Define a symbolic Mean operator for sequences through DifferenceDelta:

Use it for any special sequences:

Define a backward difference operator:

Use it for any special sequences and operators:

Define a symmetric difference operator:

Use for any special functions and operators:

Factorial Series  (2)

Define a factorial power series:

The factorial series is exact for polynomials when the order is larger than the degree:

The series is also a Newton series, which is computed by InterpolatingPolynomial:

Factorial power series approximate general functions:

The approximation gets better for higher degree:

Factorial power series interpolate exactly at a sequence of points:

Compare to power series that interpolate a sequence of derivatives exactly at a single point:

Define the n^(th) coefficient for a factorial power series:

The coefficient for FactorialPower[x,2]:

The coefficient for FactorialPower[x,n]:

Probability and Statistics  (1)

The PDF of a discrete probability distribution can be computed from the CDF of the distribution by using DifferenceDelta:

Verify that the result agrees with the PDF:

Properties & Relations  (7)

DifferenceDelta is a linear operator:

Product rule:

Quotient rule:

DifferenceDelta satisfies a Leibniz product rule:

DifferenceDelta is the inverse operation of Sum:

DifferenceDelta can be expressed in terms of DiscreteShift:

DiscreteShift can be expressed in terms of DifferenceDelta:

DifferenceDelta is the discrete analog of D:

Use Differences to compute differences of list elements:

Higher differences:

Express DifferenceDelta in terms of DiscreteRatio:

Neat Examples  (1)

Create a gallery of symbolic differences:

Wolfram Research (2008), DifferenceDelta, Wolfram Language function, https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html.


Wolfram Research (2008), DifferenceDelta, Wolfram Language function, https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html.


@misc{reference.wolfram_2021_differencedelta, author="Wolfram Research", title="{DifferenceDelta}", year="2008", howpublished="\url{https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html}", note=[Accessed: 17-June-2021 ]}


@online{reference.wolfram_2021_differencedelta, organization={Wolfram Research}, title={DifferenceDelta}, year={2008}, url={https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html}, note=[Accessed: 17-June-2021 ]}


Wolfram Language. 2008. "DifferenceDelta." Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Wolfram Research. https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html.


Wolfram Language. (2008). DifferenceDelta. Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Retrieved from https://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/DifferenceDelta.html