# 9.15. Directional Derivatives#

This section deals with the subject of directional derivatives for convex functions.

## 9.15.1. Convex Real Functions#

For real functions $$f : \RR \to \RR$$, several useful results are available.

Remark 9.13 (Domain of a convex real function)

The domain of a convex real function is an interval.

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ be convex. Then $$\dom f$$ is convex. But every convex subset of real line is an interval.

1. Now let $$I = \dom f$$ be an interval.

2. We say $$a = \inf I$$ as the left end point of $$I$$.

3. We say $$b = \sup I$$ as the right end point of $$I$$.

4. $$a$$ and $$b$$ may or may not belong to $$I$$.

5. If both $$a$$ and $$b$$ belong to $$I$$, then $$I$$ is a closed interval.

6. If neither $$a$$ nor $$b$$ belongs to $$I$$, then $$I$$ is an open interval.

### 9.15.1.1. Characterization#

Theorem 9.199 (Characterization of real convex functions)

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ be a real function with $$\dom f = I$$ which is an interval (closed or open or semi-open). Let $$a$$ and $$b$$ be the left and right endpoints of the interval $$I$$.

The following are equivalent.

1. $$f$$ is convex over $$I$$.

2. For every $$x_1, x_2, x_3 \in I$$ with $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$,

$\frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1}.$
3. For every $$x_1, x_2, x_3 \in I$$ with $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$,

$\frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_2)}{x_3 - x_2}.$
4. For every $$x_1, x_2, x_3 \in I$$ with $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$,

$\frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_2)}{x_3 - x_2}.$

Proof. (1) $$\implies$$ (2) Assume that $$f$$ is convex.

1. Let

$\alpha = \frac{x_3 - x_2}{x_3 - x_1}, \beta = \frac{x_2 - x_1}{x_3 - x_1}.$
2. Then, $$\alpha + \beta = 1$$ and $$\alpha , \beta \in (0,1)$$.

3. Also, verify that

$x_2 = \alpha x_1 + \beta x_3.$
4. Thus,

$\begin{split} & f(x_2) \leq \alpha f(x_1) + \beta f(x_3) \\ & \iff f(x_2) \leq \frac{x_3 - x_2}{x_3 - x_1} f(x_1) + \frac{x_2 - x_1}{x_3 - x_1} f(x_3)\\ & \iff (x_3 - x_1) f(x_2) \leq (x_3 - x_2) f(x_1) + (x_2 - x_1) f(x_3)\\ & \iff (x_3 - x_1) f(x_2) \leq ((x_3 - x_1) - (x_2 - x_1)) f(x_1) + (x_2 - x_1) f(x_3)\\ & \iff (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_2) - f(x_1)) \leq (x_2 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_1))\\ & \iff \frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1}. \end{split}$

(2) $$\implies$$ (1)

1. Let $$x_1, x_3 \in I$$ and $$t \in (0, 1)$$.

2. WLOG, assume that $$x_1 < x_3$$.

3. Let $$\alpha = t$$ and $$\beta = (1-t)$$.

4. Let $$x_2 = \alpha x_1 + \beta x_3$$.

5. Then, $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$.

6. From the hypothesis, we have

$\frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1}.$
7. Using the previous argument backwards, this implies

$f(x_2) \leq \alpha f(x_1) + \beta f(x_3) = t f(x_1) + (1-t) f(x_3).$
8. Thus, $$f$$ is convex.

(2) $$\iff$$ (3)

1. Pick any $$x_1, x_2, x_3 \in I$$ with $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$.

2. By hypothesis (2)

$\begin{split} & \frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1} \\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_2) - f(x_1)) \leq (x_2 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_1))\\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) f(x_2) \leq ((x_3 - x_1) - (x_2 - x_1)) f(x_1) + (x_2 - x_1) f(x_3)\\ \iff & ((x_3 - x_2) + (x_2 - x_1) ) f(x_2) \leq ((x_3 - x_2) f(x_1) + (x_2 - x_1) f(x_3)\\ \iff & (x_3 - x_2) (f(x_2) - f(x_1)) \leq (x_2 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_2))\\ \iff & \frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1 } \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_2)}{x_3 - x_2}. \end{split}$

(2) $$\iff$$ (4)

1. Pick any $$x_1, x_2, x_3 \in I$$ with $$x_1 < x_2 < x_3$$.

2. By hypothesis (2)

$\begin{split} & \frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1} \\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_2) - f(x_1)) \leq (x_2 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_1))\\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) f(x_2) \leq (x_3 - x_2) f(x_1) + ((x_2 - x_3) + (x_3 - x_1)) f(x_3)\\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_2) - f(x_3)) \leq (x_3 - x_2) (f(x_1) - f(x_3)) \\ \iff & (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_2)) \geq (x_3 - x_2) (f(x_3) - f(x_1)) \\ \iff & (x_3 - x_2) (f(x_3) - f(x_1)) \leq (x_3 - x_1) (f(x_3) - f(x_2))\\ \iff & \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_2)} {x_3 - x_2}. \end{split}$

### 9.15.1.2. One Sided Derivatives#

Recall from Definition 2.83 that if $$f$$ is defined over $$[a,b)$$, then the right hand derivative is defined as:

$f'_+(a) = \lim_{x \to a^+} \frac{f(x) - f(a)}{x - a} = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} \frac{f(a + h) - f(a)}{h}$

if the limit exists. Similarly, if $$f$$ is defined over $$(c,a]$$, then the left hand derivative is defined as:

$f'_-(a) = \lim_{x \to a^-} \frac{f(x) - f(a)}{x - a} = \lim_{h \uparrow 0} \frac{f(a + h) - f(a)}{h} = \lim_{r \downarrow 0} \frac{f(a) - f(a - r)}{r}$

if the limit exists.

We introduce two helper functions

$s_+(x, h) = \frac{f(x + h) - f(x)}{h}$

and

$s_-(x, h) = \frac{f(x) - f(x-h)}{h}$

where $$h > 0$$.

Then

$f'_+(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} s_+(x, h)$

and

$f'_-(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} s_-(x, h).$

An interesting property of convex functions is that the one sided derivatives always exist. On the real line, there are only two directions to move; left and right. The one sided derivatives play the role of directional derivatives on the real line.

Lemma 9.4 (Monotonicity of $$s_+$$ and $$s_-$$ for convex functions)

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ with $$\dom f = I$$ be convex. Let $$a$$ and $$b$$ be the left and right endpoints of the interval $$I$$. Then $$s_+$$ and $$s_-$$ as functions of $$h$$ are monotonic.

1. $$s_+(x, h)$$ is a nondecreasing function of $$h$$.

2. $$s_-(x, h)$$ is a nonincreasing function of $$h$$.

Proof. Monotonicity of $$s_+$$.

1. Let $$x \in I$$ such that $$x \neq b$$.

2. Let $$h_1, h_2 > 0$$ such that $$h_1 < h_2$$ and $$x + h_2 \in I$$.

3. Consider the three points $$x < x + h_1 < x + h_2$$.

4. Then

$\frac{f(x+h_1) - f(x)}{h_1} \leq \frac{f(x+h_2) - f(x)}{h_2}.$
5. Hence $$s_+(x, h_1) \leq s_+(x, h_2)$$.

6. Hence $$s_+$$ is a nondecreasing function of $$h$$.

The argument for monotonicity of $$s_-$$ is similar.

Observation 9.6 (One sided derivatives as infimum/supremum)

Due to the monotonicity of $$s_+$$ over $$h$$, we have

$f'_+(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} s_+(x, h) = \inf_{h > 0}s_+(x, h).$

Similarly, due to the monotonicity of $$s_+$$ over $$h$$, we have

$f'_-(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} s_-(x, h) = \sup_{h > 0}s_-(x, h).$

Theorem 9.200 (Real convex functions and one sided derivatives)

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ with $$\dom f = I$$ be convex. Let $$a$$ and $$b$$ be the left and right endpoints of the interval $$I$$. Then, for every $$x \in \interior I = (a,b)$$, the left hand derivative $$f'_-(x)$$ and the right hand derivative $$f'_+(x)$$ exist.

If $$a \in I$$, then the right hand derivative $$f'_+(a)$$ exists. If $$b \in I$$, then the left hand derivative $$f'_-(b)$$ exists.

If $$a \in I$$, we define $$f'_-(a) = -\infty$$. If $$b \in I$$, we define $$f'_+(b) = \infty$$.

Proof. We are given that $$f$$ is convex over $$(a,b)$$.

1. Let $$x \in \interior I$$.

2. Then there exists $$r > 0$$ such that $$(x - r, x + r) \subseteq I$$.

3. For $$h > 0$$, define

$F(h) = \frac{f(x + h) - f(x)}{h}.$
4. Let $$0 < h_1 < h_2$$ such that $$h_2 < r$$.

5. Let $$x_1 = x$$, $$x_2 = x + h_1$$, $$x_3 = x + h_2$$.

6. Since $$f$$ is convex, hence by Theorem 9.199

$\frac{f(x_2) - f(x_1)}{x_2 - x_1} \leq \frac{f(x_3) - f(x_1)}{x_3 - x_1}.$
7. But that means

$\frac{f(x + h_1) - f(x)}{h_1} \leq \frac{f(x + h_2) - f(x)}{h_2}.$
1. Thus, whenever $$h_1 < h_2$$ (up to $$h_2 < r$$), $$F(h_1) \leq F(h_2)$$.

2. Thus, $$F$$ is a nondecreasing (monotone) function of $$h$$ in some interval $$(0, \delta)$$ where $$\delta < r$$.

3. Then, $$f'_+(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} F(h)$$ exists.

A similar argument shows that $$f'_-(x)$$ also exists. Similar arguments apply for the one sided derivatives at the end points.

### 9.15.1.3. Continuity#

Theorem 9.201 (Convex real function is continuous)

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ be a real convex function with $$\dom f = I$$. Let $$a$$ and $$b$$ be the left and right endpoints of the interval $$I$$. Then,

1. $$f$$ is continuous at every $$x \in (a,b)$$.

2. If $$a \in I$$, then $$f$$ is continuous from the right at $$a$$.

3. If $$b \in I$$, then $$f$$ is continuous from the left at $$b$$.

In other words, $$f$$ is continuous on $$I$$.

Proof. We proceed as follows.

1. Let $$x \in (a,b)$$.

2. By Theorem 9.200, the one sided derivatives $$f'_+(x)$$ and $$f'_-(x)$$ exist.

3. Then, by limit arithmetic

$\lim_{h \to 0^-} (f(x + h) - f(x)) = \left ( \lim_{h \to 0^-} \frac{f(x + h) - f(x)}{h} \right ) \left ( \lim_{h \to 0^-} h \right) = 0.$
4. Similarly,

$\lim_{h \downarrow 0} (f(x + h) - f(x)) = \left ( \lim_{h \downarrow 0} \frac{f(x + h) - f(x)}{h} \right ) \left ( \lim_{h \downarrow 0} h \right) = 0.$
5. Thus,

$\lim_{h \to 0^-} (f(x + h) - f(x)) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} (f(x + h) - f(x)) = 0.$
6. Thus, $$f$$ is continuous at $$x$$.

7. Since $$x$$ was arbitrary, hence $$f$$ is continuous on $$(a,b)$$.

Now consider the case where $$a \in I$$.

1. By Theorem 9.200, the one sided derivative $$f'_+(a)$$ exists.

2. Then, by limit arithmetic

$\lim_{h \to 0^-} (f(a + h) - f(a)) = \left ( \lim_{h \to 0^-} \frac{f(a + h) - f(a)}{h} \right ) \left ( \lim_{h \to 0^-} h \right) = 0.$
3. Hence $$f$$ is continuous from the right at $$a$$.

A similar argument holds for continuity from the left at $$b$$.

### 9.15.1.4. Properties of One Sides Derivatives#

Theorem 9.202 (Properties of one-sided derivatives)

Let $$f: \RR \to \RR$$ be a real convex function with $$\dom f = I$$. Let $$a$$ and $$b$$ be the left and right endpoints of the interval $$I$$.

1. We have $$f'_-(x) \leq f'_+(x)$$ for every $$x \in I$$.

2. If $$x \in \interior I$$ then both $$f'_-(x)$$ and $$f'_+(x)$$ are finite.

3. If $$x, z \in I$$ and $$x < z$$, then $$f'_+(x) \leq f'_-(z)$$.

4. The functions $$f'_-, f'_+ : \RR \to \ERL$$ are nondecreasing over $$I$$.

5. The function $$f'_+$$ is right-continuous at every interior point of $$I$$. If $$a \in I$$ then $$f'_+$$ is right-continuous at $$a$$.

6. The function $$f'_-$$ is left-continuous at every interior point of $$I$$. If $$b \in I$$ then $$f'_-$$ is left-continuous at $$b$$.

7. The function $$f'_+$$ is upper-semicontinuous at every $$x \in I$$.

8. The function $$f'_-$$ is lower-semicontinuous at every $$x \in I$$.

Proof. (1)

1. If $$a \in I$$, then by convention $$f'_-(a) = -\infty$$. Hence $$f'_-(a) \leq f'_+(a)$$.

2. If $$b \in I$$, then by convention $$f'_+(b) = \infty$$. Hence $$f'_-(b) \leq f'_+(b)$$.

3. Now let $$x \in \interior I$$.

4. Then there is $$r > 0$$ such that $$(x-r, x+r) \in I$$.

5. Pick any $$h > 0$$ such that $$h < r$$.

6. Then, using the three points $$x - h, x, x + h$$, we have

$\frac{f(x) - f(x - h)}{h} \leq \frac{f(x + h) - f(x)}{h}$

due to Theorem 9.199.

7. Taking the limit $$h \downarrow 0$$, we see that

$f'_-(x) \leq f'_+(x)$

holds true for every $$x \in \interior I$$.

(2)

1. Let $$x \in \interior I$$.

2. Let $$h > 0$$ such that $$(x - h, x + h) \subseteq I$$.

3. Then we have

$f'_+(x) \leq \frac{f(x+h) - f(x)}{h} < \infty.$
4. Similarly, we have

$- \infty < \frac{f(x) - f(x -h)}{h} \leq f'_-(x).$
5. By (1), we have

$-\infty < f'_-(x) \leq f'_+(x) < \infty.$
6. Hence both are finite at interior points of $$I$$.

(3)

1. Let $$y = \frac{x + z}{2}$$.

2. Due to Theorem 9.199, we have

$\frac{f(y) - f(x)}{y - x} \leq \frac{f(z) - f(y)}{z - y}.$
3. We also have

$f'_+(x) \leq \frac{f(y) - f(x)}{y - x} \text{ and } \frac{f(z) - f(y)}{z - y} \leq f'_-(z).$
4. Combining, we get $$f'_+(x) \leq f'_-(z)$$.

(4)

1. Let $$x, z \in I$$ such that $$x < z$$.

2. From (3), we have $$f'_+(x) \leq f'_-(z)$$.

3. From (1), we have $$f'_-(z) \leq f'_+(z)$$.

4. Combining, we have $$f'_+(x) \leq f'_+(z)$$.

5. Hence $$f'_+$$ is nondecreasing.

6. Similarly, $$f'_-(x) \leq f'_+(x) \leq f'_-(z)$$.

7. Hence $$f'_-$$ is nondecreasing.

(5)

1. Pick any $$x \in I$$ such that $$x \neq b$$ (if $$b \in I$$).

2. Then $$x < b$$.

3. We can pick $$h > 0$$ and $$r > 0$$ such that $$x + h + r < b$$.

4. Then $$f'_+(x + h) \leq \frac{f(x + h + r) - f(x + h)}{r}$$.

5. We established in Theorem 9.201 that $$f$$ is continuous.

6. Taking the limit $$h \downarrow 0$$, we obtain

$\lim_{h \downarrow 0} f'_+(x + h) \leq \frac{f(x + r) - f(x)}{r}.$

This is valid since $$f$$ is continuous.

7. Now taking the limit $$r \downarrow 0$$ on the R.H.S., we obtain

$\lim_{h \downarrow 0} f'_+(x + h) \leq f'_+(x).$
8. Since $$f'_+$$ is nondecreasing by claim (4), hence

$f'_+(x) \leq \lim_{h \downarrow 0} f'_+(x + h).$
9. Together, we must have

$f'_+(x) = \lim_{h \downarrow 0} f'_+(x + h).$
10. Hence $$f'_+$$ is right continuous at $$x$$.

(6)

1. An argument similar to (5) shows that $$f'_-$$ is left continuous at every $$x \in I$$ except for $$x=a$$ (if $$a \in I$$).

(7) Upper semicontinuity of $$f'_+$$

1. We need to show that for every $$\epsilon > 0$$ there exists $$r > 0$$ such that

$f'_+(y) < f'_+(x) + \epsilon \text{ for every } y \in (x-r, x+r) \cap I.$
2. Pick some $$\epsilon > 0$$.

3. Consider any $$x \in \interior I$$.

4. By (6) $$f'_+$$ is right continuous at $$x$$.

5. Hence there exists $$r_1 > 0$$ such that for every $$y \in [x, x+r_1)$$, we have

$|f'_+(y) - f'_+(x)| < \epsilon.$
6. By (4), $$f'_+$$ is nondecreasing. Hence for every $$y \in [x, x+r_1)$$

$|f'_+(y) - f'_+(x)| = f'_+(y) - f'_+(x).$
7. Hence for every $$y \in [x, x+r_1)$$, we have

$f'_+(y) - f'_+(x) < \epsilon \iff f'_+(y) < f'_+(x) + \epsilon.$
8. Now, let $$r = \min(x - a, r_1)$$.

9. By monotonicity of $$f'_+$$, for every $$y \in (x - r, x)$$

$f'_+(y) \leq f'_+(x).$
10. Hence for every $$y \in (x, -r, x)$$

$f'_+(y) < f'_+(x) + \epsilon.$
11. Combining the two, for every $$y \in (x - r, x + r)$$, we have

$f'_+(y) < f'_+(x) + \epsilon.$
12. Hence $$f'_+$$ is u.s.c. at $$x$$.

13. Now, if $$a \in I$$ then let $$x = a$$.

14. By right continuity of $$f'_+$$ at $$a$$, there exists $$r > 0$$ such that for every $$y \in [a, a + r)$$, we have

$f'_+(y) < f'_+(a) + \epsilon.$
15. Also $$(a - r, a + r) \cap I = [a, a + r)$$.

16. Hence $$f'_+$$ is u.s.c. at $$a$$.

17. If $$b \in I$$, then by convention $$f'_+(b) = \infty$$.

18. Hence $$f'_+$$ is u.s.c. at $$b$$.

(8) Lower semicontinuity of $$f'_-$$

1. The argument is similar to (7).

## 9.15.2. Directional Derivatives of Proper Functions#

Definition 9.70 (Directional derivative)

Let $$f : \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. The directional derivative at $$\bx$$ in the direction $$\bd \in \VV$$ is defined by

$f'(\bx;\bd) \triangleq \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha \bd) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}$

provided the limit exists.

We say that $$f$$ is directionally differentiable at $$\bx$$ if it is directionally differentiable in every direction at $$\bx$$.

The directional derivative is a scalar quantity ($$\in \RR$$) if it is defined (i.e., the limit exists). When we say that

$f'(\bx;\bd) = \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t},$

we mean that $$f$$ is defined over a set $$\{ \bv \ST \bv = \bx + t \bd, 0 < t < t_{\max} \}$$ and for every $$\epsilon > 0$$, there exists $$\delta > 0$$ such that

$\left | \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} - f'(\bx;\bd) \right | < \epsilon \text{ whenever } 0 < t < \delta.$

Since $$\bx \in \interior S$$, hence there exists $$r > 0$$ such that $$B(\bx, r) \subseteq S$$.

With $$\bv \in B(\bx, r)$$, we need $$\| t \bd \| < r$$. Thus, a $$t_{\max} = \frac{r}{\| \bd \|}$$ is a suitable range of allowed values for $$t$$. Accordingly, $$0 < \delta < t_{\max}$$ can be chosen.

Remark 9.14 (Directional derivative for zero vector)

If $$\bd = \bzero$$ then, $$f'(\bx; \bd) = 0$$.

We can see this from the fact that

$f'(\bx;\bzero) = \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha \bzero) - f(\bx)}{\alpha} = 0.$

A useful result is for computing the directional derivative of a function which is the pointwise maximum of a finite number of proper functions.

We recall from Theorem 3.22 that the interior of a finite intersection of sets is the intersection of their interiors. This is useful in identifying the interior of the domain for a pointwise maximum of a finite set of functions.

## 9.15.3. Differentiability#

### 9.15.3.1. Differentiability of Proper Functions#

Definition 9.71 (Differentiability of proper functions)

Let $$f : \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. $$f$$ is said to be differentiable at $$\bx$$ if there exists $$\bg \in \VV^*$$ such that:

(9.5)#$\underset{\bh \to \bzero}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + \bh) - f(\bx) - \langle \bh, \bg \rangle}{\| \bh \|} = 0.$

The unique vector $$\bg$$ satisfying this condition is called the gradient of $$f$$ at $$\bx$$ and is denoted by $$\nabla f(\bx)$$.

If $$f$$ is differentiable at some $$\bx \in \interior S$$, then there is a simple formula to connect the gradient and the directional derivatives.

### 9.15.3.2. Gradient and Directional Derivatives#

Theorem 9.203 (Gradient and directional derivatives)

Let $$f : \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Assume that $$f$$ is differentiable at $$\bx$$. Then, for any $$\bd \in \VV$$,

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle.$

In other words, the directional derivative is the projection of the gradient in the specified direction.

Proof. For $$\bd = \bzero$$, the equality is obvious. We shall consider the case where $$\bd \neq \bzero$$.

1. Since $$f$$ is differentiable at $$\bx$$, hence

$\underset{\bh \to \bzero}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + \bh) - f(\bx) - \langle \bh, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle}{\| \bh \|} = 0.$
1. In particular, if we take the limit of $$\bh$$ along the direction of $$\bd$$ as $$t \bd$$ where $$t > 0$$ and $$t \to 0^+$$, then

$\underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx) - \langle t \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle}{\| t \bd \|} = 0.$
2. Splitting the terms, we get

$\underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{\| t \bd \|} - \underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \frac{\langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle}{\| \bd \|} = 0.$
3. Multiplying with $$\| \bd \|$$ and simplifying, we get:

$\underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} - \underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle = 0.$
4. Thus,

$f'(\bx; \bd ) = \underset{t \to 0^+}{\lim} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} = \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle.$

### 9.15.3.3. Gradient in $$\RR^n$$#

Remark 9.15 (Gradient in $$\RR^n$$)

It is imperative to compare the definition of gradients in this section with Definition 5.1 (differentiability of functions from $$\RR^n$$ to $$\RR^m$$) and the notion of the gradient as defined in Definition 5.4.

To better develop our understanding of gradients, let us examine the gradient in the Euclidean space $$\RR^n$$. The standard basis is given by $$\BBB = \{\be_1, \dots, \be_n \}$$ which are the coordinate unit vectors. The standard inner product is given by the dot product

$\langle \bx, \by \rangle = \by^T \bx = \bx^T \by.$

A vector $$\bx \in \RR^n$$ is written as

$\bx = \sum_{i=1}^n x_i \be_i.$

The individual coordinates are obtained via

$x_i = \langle \be_i, \bx \rangle = \langle \bx, \be_i \rangle = \bx^T \be_i \Forall i \in [1,\dots, n].$

Let $$f: \RR^n \to \RERL$$ be a proper function. Let $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Assume that $$f$$ is differentiable at $$\bx$$. Let $$\bg = \nabla f (\bx)$$. Let

$\bg = \sum_i^n g_i \be_i.$

Following the notation in Observation 5.1, the derivative of $$f$$ at $$\bx$$, denoted by $$Df(\bx)$$ is given by

$\underset{\bh \to \bzero}{\lim} \frac{\| f(\bx + \bh) - f(\bx) - Df(\bx) \bh \|_2}{\| \bh \|_2} = 0.$

We don’t have to check for $$\bx + \bh \in \dom f$$ as $$f$$ is a proper function with a value of $$\infty$$ at points outside its effective domain.

Compare this with (9.5). For $$f : \RR^n \to \RR$$, $$Df(\bx)$$ is a row vector. If we let $$\tilde{\bg} = Df(\bx)^T$$, then

$Df(\bx) \bh = \tilde{\bg}^T \bh = \langle \bh, \tilde{\bg} \rangle.$

Then, the definition of $$\tilde{\bg}$$ in the limit above is exactly the same as $$\bg$$ in (9.5). Thus, $$\tilde{\bg} = \bg$$. We can see that our definition of gradient coincides with the definition in Definition 5.4 for $$\RR^n$$ with the dot product as standard inner product.

Now consider the components of $$\bg$$.

$g_i = \langle \be_i, \bg \rangle = \langle \be_i, \nabla f (\bx) \rangle.$

By Theorem 9.203, the directional derivative in the direction $$\be_i$$ is given by

$f'(\bx; \be_i) = \langle \be_i, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle = \langle \be_i, \bg \rangle = g_i.$

Thus,

$\frac{\partial f(\bx)}{\partial x_i} = \langle \be_i, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle.$

The partial derivatives of $$f$$ at $$\bx$$ along the standard basis vectors are identical to the directional derivatives of $$f$$.

$\begin{split} \nabla f(\bx) = \begin{bmatrix} \frac{\partial f(\bx)}{\partial x_1}\\ \vdots\\ \frac{\partial f(\bx)}{\partial x_n} \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} \langle \be_1, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle\\ \vdots\\ \langle \be_n, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle \end{bmatrix}. \end{split}$

Then, for an arbitrary direction $$\bd = \sum_{i=1}^n \be_i$$, the directional derivative becomes

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle = \nabla f(\bx)^T \bd = \sum_{i=1}^n \frac{\partial f(\bx)}{\partial x_i} d_i.$

Recall from Definition 9.70, that the directional derivative is independent on the choice of the inner product. This is also clear from the expression $$\sum_{i=1}^n \frac{\partial f(\bx)}{\partial x_i} d_i$$ as the partial derivatives are independent of the choice of the inner product.

However, this means that the gradient itself must depend on the choice of inner product. If $$\langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle_a$$ and $$\langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle_b$$ are two different inner products defined on $$\RR^n$$, then the gradients of $$f$$ at $$\bx$$ w.r.t. the two inner products, denoted by $$\nabla_a f(\bx)$$ and $$\nabla_b f(\bx)$$ must satisfy the relationship

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \langle \bd, \nabla_a f(\bx) \rangle_a = \langle \bd, \nabla_b f(\bx) \rangle_b \Forall \bd \in \VV.$

In the following, we shall assume that $$\nabla f(\bx)$$ denotes the gradient w.r.t. the dot product.

Consider the inner product given by

$\langle \bx, \by \rangle_H = \bx^T \bH \by$

where $$\bH \in \RR^{n \times n}$$ is a symmetric positive definite matrix.

Then,

$\begin{split} (\nabla_H f(\bx))_i &= \nabla_H f(\bx)^T \be_i & \text{coordinate in standard basis}\\ &= \nabla_H f(\bx)^T (\bH \bH^{-1}) \be_i & \text{\bH is invertible}\\ &= \nabla_H f(\bx)^T \bH (\bH^{-1}\be_i) & \\ &= \langle \bH^{-1}\be_i, \nabla_H f(\bx) \rangle_H & \text{by definition of this inner product} \\ &= f'(\bx; \bH^{-1}\be_i) & \text{directional derivative w.r.t. this inner product} \\ &= \nabla f(\bx)^T \bH^{-1}\be_i & \text{directional derivative w.r.t. dot product}\\ &= (\bH^{-1} \nabla f(\bx))^T \be_i & \text{\bH is symmetric}. \end{split}$

Thus,

$\nabla_H f(\bx) = \bH^{-1} \nabla f(\bx).$

Thus, the gradient w.r.t. the inner product $$\langle \cdot, \cdot \rangle_H$$ is the scaled version of the standard gradient where the scaling factor is $$\bH^{-1}$$.

### 9.15.3.4. Gradient in $$\RR^{m \times n}$$#

Remark 9.16 (Gradient in $$\RR^{m \times n}$$)

We next look at the vector space of real matrices. The standard basis is a family of unit matrices $$\{ \bE_{i j} \}_{1 \leq i \leq m, 1 \leq j \leq n}$$ where $$\bE_{i j}$$ has the $$(i,j)$$-th entry as 1 and other entries as 0.

The standard inner product is given by

$\langle \bX , \bY \rangle = \Trace(\bY^T \bX ) \Forall \bX, \bY \in \RR^{m \times n}.$

Let $$f : \RR^{m \times n} \to \RR$$ be a proper function. Let $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bX \in \interior S$$. Assume that $$f$$ is differentiable at $$\bX$$.

$\partial f(\bX) = \left ( \frac{\partial f(\bX)}{\partial x_{i j}} \right )_{i j }.$

The directional derivative for some direction $$\bD \in \RR^{m \times n}$$ is given by

$f(\bX ; \bD) = \langle \bD, \partial f(\bX) \rangle = \Trace(\partial f(\bX)^T \bD).$

Consider the inner product given by

$\langle \bX, \bY \rangle_H = \Trace(\bX^T \bH \bY)$

where $$\bH \in \RR^{m \times m}$$ is a symmetric positive definite matrix.

Then,

$\begin{split} (\nabla_H f(\bX))_{i j} &= \Trace(\nabla_H f(\bX)^T \bE_{i j}) & \text{coordinate in standard basis}\\ &= \Trace(\nabla_H f(\bX)^T (\bH \bH^{-1}) \bE_{i j}) & \text{\bH is invertible}\\ &= \Trace(\nabla_H f(\bX)^T \bH (\bH^{-1}\bE_{i j}) ) & \\ &= \langle \bH^{-1}\bE_{i j}, \nabla_H f(\bX) \rangle_H & \text{by definition of this inner product} \\ &= f'(\bX; \bH^{-1}\bE_{i j}) & \text{directional derivative w.r.t. this inner product} \\ &= \Trace(\nabla f(\bX)^T \bH^{-1}\bE_{i j}) & \text{directional derivative w.r.t. standard inner product}\\ &= (\bH^{-1} \nabla f(\bX))^T \bE_{i j} & \text{\bH is symmetric}. \end{split}$

Thus,

$\nabla_H f(\bX) = \bH^{-1} \nabla f(\bX).$

## 9.15.4. Proper Convex Functions#

### 9.15.4.1. Existence of Directional Derivatives#

An important property of directional derivatives is that if $$f$$ is a proper convex function then $$f$$ is directionally differentiable at every $$\bx \in \interior \dom f$$.

Theorem 9.204 (Existence of directional derivatives for convex functions.)

Let $$f: \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper convex function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Then, for any $$\bd \in \VV$$, the directional derivative $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ exists.

Proof. This is a consequence of the directional differentiability of the scalar convex functions.

1. Define the convex function $$F : \RR \to \RR$$ as

$F(t) = f(\bx + t \bd).$
2. Let $$I = \dom F$$.

3. Then $$I$$ is an interval of values for which $$\bx + t \by \in S$$.

4. Since $$\bx \in \interior S$$, hence $$t=0 \in \interior I$$.

5. We now note that

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} = \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{F(t) - F(0)}{t} = F'_+ (0).$

It is the right hand derivative of $$F$$ at $$t=0$$.

6. By Theorem 9.200, $$F'_+(0)$$ exists.

7. Hence $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ exists for every $$\bx \in \interior S$$ and every $$\bd \in \VV$$.

Observation 9.7 (Relation between the directional derivatives in opposite directions)

We can see that

$f'(\bx; -\bd) = \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx - t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} = \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{F(-t) - F(0)}{t} = - \lim_{r \uparrow 0} \frac{F(r) - F(0)}{r} = - F'_- (0).$

Hence

$F'_- (0) = - f'(\bx; -\bd).$
$F'_- (0) \leq F'_+(0).$

Hence

$- f'(\bx; -\bd) \leq f'(\bx; \bd) \Forall \bd \in \VV.$

Observation 9.8 (Directional derivative as infimum)

Let $$f: \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper convex function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Then, for any $$\bd \in \VV$$,

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \inf_{t > 0} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t}.$

This follows from the fact that $$F(t) = f(\bx + t \bd)$$ is convex and due to Observation 9.6,

$f'(\bx; \bd) = F'_+(0) = \inf_{t > 0} \frac{F(t) - F(0)}{t} = \inf_{t > 0} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t}.$

### 9.15.4.2. Upper Semicontinuity#

The next result generalizes the upper semicontinuity property of the right hand derivatives of real convex functions.

Theorem 9.205

Let $$f: \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper convex function with $$\dom f = S$$. Assume that $$S$$ is an open subset of $$\VV$$. Let $$\{ f_k \}$$ be a sequence of proper convex functions $$f_k : \VV \to \RERL$$ with $$\dom f_k = S$$ with the property that

$\lim_{k \to \infty} f_k(\bx_k) = f(\bx)$

holds true for every $$\bx \in S$$ and every sequence $$\{ \bx_k \}$$ of $$S$$ that converges to $$\bx$$. Then for any $$\bx \in S$$ and any direction $$\bd \in \VV$$ and any sequences $$\{ \bx_k \}$$ of $$S$$ and $$\{ \bd_k \}$$ of $$\VV$$ converging to $$\bx$$ and $$\bd$$ respectively, we have

$\limsup_{k \to \infty} f'_k (\bx_k; \bd_k ) \leq f'(\bx; \bd).$

Furthermore if $$f$$ is differentiable over $$S$$, then $$f$$ is also continuously differentiable over $$S$$.

Proof. Limit superior

1. Choose any $$\epsilon > 0$$.

2. By definition of the directional derivative, there exists a $$t > 0$$ such that

$\frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} < f'(\bx; \bd) + \epsilon.$
3. Due to Observation 9.8, for every $$k$$ and every $$t > 0$$, we have

$f'_k(\bx_k; \bd_k) \leq \frac{f_k(\bx_k + t \bd_k) - f(\bx_k)}{t}.$
4. Now

$\lim_{k \to \infty} \frac{f_k(\bx_k + t \bd_k) - f(\bx_k)}{t} = \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t}.$
5. Hence for sufficiently large $$k$$, we have

$f'_k(\bx_k; \bd_k) \leq \frac{f_k(\bx_k + t \bd_k) - f(\bx_k)}{t} < f'(\bx; \bd) + \epsilon.$
6. By taking the limit superior on the L.H.S. as $$k \to \infty$$, we have

$\limsup_{k \to \infty} f'_k (\bx_k; \bd_k ) \leq f'(\bx; \bd) + \epsilon.$
7. Since this is valid for every $$\epsilon > 0$$, hence we must have

$\limsup_{k \to \infty} f'_k (\bx_k; \bd_k ) \leq f'(\bx; \bd)$

as desired.

Continuous differentiability

1. We are given that $$f$$ is differentiable over $$S$$.

2. Then $$f$$ is also continuous over $$S$$.

3. Let $$\bx \in S$$.

4. Let $$\{ \bx_k \}$$ be a sequence of $$S$$ converging to $$\bx$$.

5. Let $$\bd \in \VV$$ be any nonzero direction.

6. Due to Theorem 9.203, for every $$k$$,

$f'(\bx_k; \bd) = \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle.$
7. Hence

$\begin{split} \limsup_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle &= \limsup_{k \to \infty} f'(\bx_k; \bd)\\ &\leq f'(\bx; \bd) \\ &= \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle. \end{split}$
8. By replacing $$\bd$$ with $$-\bd$$ in the previous argument, we have

$\begin{split} - \liminf_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle &= \limsup_{k \to \infty} \langle -\bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle\\ &= \limsup_{k \to \infty} f'(\bx_k; -\bd)\\ &\leq f'(\bx; -\bd)\\ &= -\langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle. \end{split}$
9. Hence

$\liminf_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle \geq \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle.$
10. Thus we have

$\limsup_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle \leq \liminf_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle.$
11. But then this must be an equality. Hence

$\lim_{k \to \infty} \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx_k) \rangle = \langle \bd, \nabla f(\bx) \rangle.$
12. Since this is valid for every nonzero direction $$\bd \in \VV$$, hence we must have

$\lim_{k \to \infty} \nabla f(\bx_k) = \nabla f(\bx).$
13. Hence $$\nabla f$$ is continuous at every $$\bx \in S$$.

14. Hence $$f$$ is continuously differentiable at every $$\bx \in S$$.

### 9.15.4.3. Directional Derivatives Map#

The existence of directional derivatives in all directions allows us to consider a mapping from a direction $$\bd \in \VV$$ to the directional derivative of $$f$$ in this direction at $$\bx$$. We can define a directional derivative map parameterized by $$\bx \in S$$ as:

$\bg_x(\bd) \triangleq f'(\bx; \bd) = \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha \bd) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}.$

We shall refer to such maps by $$\bd \mapsto f'(\bx; \bd)$$.

Theorem 9.206 (Convexity and homogeneity of $$\bd \mapsto f'(\bx; \bd)$$)

Let $$f: \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper convex function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Then, the function $$\bd \mapsto f'(\bx; \bd)$$ is convex and nonnegative homogeneous.

Nonnegative homogeneity: For any $$t \geq 0$$ and $$\bd \in \VV$$,

$f'(\bx; t \bd) = t f'(\bx; \bd).$

Proof. Convexity

1. Let $$\bd_1, \bd_2 \in \VV$$ and $$t \in (0, 1)$$.

2. Let $$\bd = t \bd_1 + (1-t) \bd_2$$.

3. Then,

$\begin{split} f'(\bx; \bd) &= f'(\bx; t \bd_1 + (1-t) \bd_2)\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha [t \bd_1 + (1-t) \bd_2]) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(t \bx + \alpha t \bd_1 + (1-t) \bx + \alpha (1-t) \bd_2) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(t (\bx + \alpha \bd_1) + (1-t) (\bx + \alpha \bd_2)) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &\leq \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{t f(\bx + \alpha \bd_1) + (1-t) f(\bx + \alpha \bd_2) - t f(\bx) - (1-t)f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= t \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha \bd_1) - f(\bx)}{\alpha} + (1-t) \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha \bd_2) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= t f'(\bx; \bd_1) + (1-t) f'(\bx; \bd_2). \end{split}$

We used the convexity property of $$f$$ in this derivation.

4. Thus, $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ is convex.

Nonnegative homogeneity

1. For $$t=0$$,

$f'(\bx, 0 \bd) = f'(\bx, \bzero) = 0 = 0 f'(\bx; \bd).$

Thus, the homogeneity property is trivial for $$t=0$$.

2. Now consider $$t > 0$$.

3. Then,

$\begin{split} f'(\bx; t \bd) &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha t \bd) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= t \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha t \bd) - f(\bx)}{\alpha t}\\ &= t f'(\bx; \bd). \end{split}$
4. Thus, $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ is nonnegative homogeneous.

### 9.15.4.4. As Linear Underestimator#

Directional derivatives are a linear underestimator for convex functions.

Theorem 9.207 (Directional derivative as linear underestimator)

Let $$f: \VV \to \RERL$$ be a proper convex function with $$S = \dom f$$. Let $$\bx \in \interior S$$. Then, for every $$\by \in S$$

$f(\by) \geq f(\bx) + f'(\bx; \by - \bx).$

Proof. Note that

$\begin{split} f'(\bx; \by - \bx) &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + \alpha (\by - \bx)) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{f((1-\alpha) \bx + \alpha \by) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &\leq \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{(1-\alpha)f(\bx) + \alpha f(\by) - f(\bx)}{\alpha}\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0} \frac{\alpha (f(\by) - f(\bx))}{\alpha}\\ &= \lim_{\alpha \downarrow 0}(f(\by) - f(\bx)) = f(\by) - f(\bx). \end{split}$

Thus,

$f(\by) \geq f(\bx) + f'(\bx; \by - \bx).$

## 9.15.5. Pointwise Maximum of Finite Set of Functions#

### 9.15.5.1. Directional Derivative#

Theorem 9.208 (Directional derivative of a maximum of functions)

Let $$f_1, f_2, \dots, f_m : \VV \to \RERL$$ be proper functions. Let $$f : \VV \to \RERL$$ be defined as

$f(\bx) = \max\{f_1(\bx), \dots, f_m(\bx) \}$

with $$\dom f = \bigcap_{i=1}^m \dom f_i$$.

Let $$\bx \in \interior \dom f = \bigcap_{i=1}^m \interior \dom f_i$$ and $$\bd \in \VV$$. Assume that $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ exists for every $$i \in 1,\dots,m$$.

Let $$I(\bx) = \{i \in 1,\dots,m \ST f_i(\bx) = f(\bx) \}$$ be the set of indices of functions whose value at $$\bx$$ equals $$f(\bx)$$. Then,

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f'(\bx; \bd).$

In other words, the directional derivative of a pointwise maximum of functions equals the maximum of directional directives of functions which attain the pointwise maximum at a specific point.

Proof. The key idea here is that for computing the directional derivative $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$, only those functions are relevant for which $$f_i(\bx) = f(\bx)$$. We need to show this first.

1. Since $$\bx \in \interior \dom f$$, there exists $$B(\bx, r)$$ such that $$f$$ and $$f_i$$ are all defined over this open ball.

2. Let $$s = \frac{r}{\| \bd \|}$$.

3. For every $$i \in 1,\dots,m$$, let $$g_i : \RR \to \RR$$ be defined as

$g_i(t) = f_i(\bx + t \bd)$

with $$\dom g_i = [0, s)$$. $$\| s \bd \| = r$$. Thus, $$\bx + t \bd \in B(\bx, r)$$. Hence, $$g_i$$ are well defined.

4. Then,

$\begin{split} \lim_{t \to 0+} g_i(t) &= \lim_{t \to 0+} f_i(\bx + t \bd) \\ &= \lim_{t \to 0+} [(f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx)) + f_i(\bx)]\\ &= \lim_{t \to 0+}\left [ t \frac{f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx)}{t} + f_i(\bx) \right] \\ &= 0 \cdot f'_i(\bx; \bd) + f_i(\bx)\\ &= f_i(\bx) = g_i(0). \end{split}$

We used the fact that $$f'_i(\bx; \bd)$$ exists for every $$f_i$$.

5. Thus, $$g_i$$ is continuous from the right at $$t=0$$ for every $$i \in 1,\dots, m$$.

6. Let $$i \in I(\bx)$$ and $$j \notin I(\bx)$$.

7. Then, $$f_i(\bx) > f_j (\bx)$$. Alternatively $$g_i(0) > g_j(0)$$.

8. Since $$g_i, g_j$$ are continuous from the right, hence there exists $$\epsilon_{i j} > 0$$ such that $$g_i(t) > g_j(t)$$ for every $$t \in [0, \epsilon_{i j}]$$.

9. Minimizing $$\epsilon_{ij}$$ over all pairs of $$i \in I(\bx)$$ and $$j \notin I(\bx)$$, there exists $$\epsilon > 0$$ such that for any $$i \in I(\bx)$$ and $$j \notin I(\bx)$$,

$f_i(\bx + t \bd) = g_i(t) > g_j(t) = f_j(\bx + t \bd) \Forall t \in [0, \epsilon].$

We can now compute the directional derivative.

1. For every $$t \in [0, \epsilon]$$,

$f(\bx + t \bd) = \underset{i=1,\dots,m}{\max} f_i(\bx + t \bd) = \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f_i(\bx + t \bd).$
2. Consequently, for any $$t \in (0, \epsilon]$$

$\begin{split} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t} &= \frac{\underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t}\\ &= \frac{\underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} (f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx))}{t}\\ &= \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} \frac{f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx)}{t}. \end{split}$

We used the fact that $$f_i(\bx) = f(\bx)$$ for every $$i \in I(\bx)$$.

3. Taking the limit $$t \downarrow 0$$,

$\begin{split} f'(\bx; \bd) &= \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{f(\bx + t \bd) - f(\bx)}{t}\\ &= \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} \frac{f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx)}{t}\\ &= \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} \lim_{t \downarrow 0} \frac{f_i(\bx + t \bd) - f_i(\bx)}{t}\\ &= \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f'_i(\bx; \bd). \end{split}$

### 9.15.5.2. Finite Set of Convex Functions Case#

Theorem 9.209 (Directional derivative of pointwise maximum of convex functions)

Let $$f_1, f_2, \dots, f_m : \VV \to \RERL$$ be proper convex functions. Let $$f : \VV \to \RERL$$ be defined as

$f(\bx) = \max\{f_1(\bx), \dots, f_m(\bx) \}$

with $$\dom f = \bigcap_{i=1}^m \dom f_i$$.

Let $$\bx \in \interior \dom f$$ and $$\bd \in \VV$$. Then,

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f'(\bx; \bd).$

where $$I(\bx) = \{i \in 1,\dots,m \ST f_i(\bx) = f(\bx) \}$$.

Proof. Since $$f_i$$ are proper convex, hence their pointwise maximum $$f$$ is proper convex.

By Theorem 9.204, the directional derivatives $$f'(\bx; \bd)$$ and $$f'_i(\bx; \bd)$$ for $$i=1,\dots,m$$ exist.

$f'(\bx; \bd) = \underset{i \in I(\bx)}{\max} f'(\bx; \bd).$

where $$I(\bx) = \{i \in 1,\dots,m \ST f_i(\bx) = f(\bx) \}$$.