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The notion of a formal derivative of a polynomial over some ring comes from the ordinary derivative of a polynomial over the real and complex numbers. Furthermore, results true over the real numbers, such as that $(fg)'=f'g+g'f$ and $(f \circ g)' = (f' \circ g) g'$, continue to hold over arbitrary rings. However, these results are much easier to prove over the real numbers using analytic techniques, and one might legitimately argue that mathematicians were only led to the corresponding formal results by the inspiration of the results in calculus.