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Mathematics LibreTexts

4: Line and Surface Integrals

A line integral is an integral where the function to be integrated is evaluated along a curve and a surface integral is a generalization of multiple integrals to integration over surfaces. It can be thought of as the double integral analog of the line integral. Given a surface, one may integrate over its scalar fields (that is, functions which return scalars as values), and vector fields (that is, functions which return vectors as values). Surface integrals have applications in physics, particularly with the theories of classical electromagnetism.

Thumbnail: The definition of surface integral relies on splitting the surface into small surface elements. Each element is associated with a vector dS of magnitude equal to the area of the element and with direction normal to the element and pointing outward. Image used with permission (Public Domain; McMetrox)