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Mathematics LibreTexts

6: Applications of Integration


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In this chapter, we use definite integrals to calculate the force exerted on the dam when the reservoir is full and we examine how changing water levels affect that force. Hydrostatic force is only one of the many applications of definite integrals we explore in this chapter. From geometric applications such as surface area and volume, to physical applications such as mass and work, to growth and decay models, definite integrals are a powerful tool to help us understand and model the world around us.

  • 6.0: Prelude to Applications of Integration
    The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel. When Lake Mead, the reservoir behind the dam, is full, the dam withstands a great deal of force. However, water levels in the lake vary considerably as a result of droughts and varying water demands.
  • 6.1: Areas between Curves
    Just as definite integrals can be used to find the area under a curve, they can also be used to find the area between two curves. To find the area between two curves defined by functions, integrate the difference of the functions. If the graphs of the functions cross, or if the region is complex, use the absolute value of the difference of the functions. In this case, it may be necessary to evaluate two or more integrals.
  • 6.2: Determining Volumes by Slicing
    In this section, we use definite integrals to find volumes of three-dimensional solids. We consider three approaches—slicing, disks, and washers—for finding these volumes, depending on the characteristics of the solid.
  • 6.3: Volumes of Revolution: Cylindrical Shells
    In this section, we examine the method of cylindrical shells, the final method for finding the volume of a solid of revolution. We can use this method on the same kinds of solids as the disk method or the washer method; however, with the disk and washer methods, we integrate along the coordinate axis parallel to the axis of revolution. With the method of cylindrical shells, we integrate along the coordinate axis perpendicular to the axis of revolution.
  • 6.4: Arc Length of a Curve and Surface Area
    The arc length of a curve can be calculated using a definite integral. The arc length is first approximated using line segments, which generates a Riemann sum. Taking a limit then gives us the definite integral formula. The same process can be applied to functions of y. The concepts used to calculate the arc length can be generalized to find the surface area of a surface of revolution. The integrals generated by both the arc length and surface area formulas are often difficult to evaluate.
  • 6.5: Physical Applications of Integration
    In this section, we examine some physical applications of integration. Several physical applications of the definite integral are common in engineering and physics. Definite integrals can be used to determine the mass of an object if its density function is known. Work can also be calculated from integrating a force function, or when counteracting the force of gravity, as in a pumping problem. Definite integrals can also be used to calculate the force exerted on an object submerged in a liquid.
  • 6.6: Moments and Centers of Mass
    In this section, we consider centers of mass (also called centroids, under certain conditions) and moments. The basic idea of the center of mass is the notion of a balancing point. Many of us have seen performers who spin plates on the ends of sticks. The performers try to keep several of them spinning without allowing any of them to drop. Mathematically, that sweet spot is called the center of mass of the plate.
  • 6.7: Integrals, Exponential Functions, and Logarithms
    We already examined exponential functions and logarithms in earlier chapters. However, we glossed over some key details in the previous discussions. For example, we did not study how to treat exponential functions with exponents that are irrational. The definition of the number e is another area where the previous development was somewhat incomplete. We now have the tools to deal with these concepts in a more mathematically rigorous way, and we do so in this section.
  • 6.8: Exponential Growth and Decay
    One of the most prevalent applications of exponential functions involves growth and decay models. Exponential growth and decay show up in a host of natural applications. From population growth and continuously compounded interest to radioactive decay and Newton’s law of cooling, exponential functions are ubiquitous in nature. In this section, we examine exponential growth and decay in the context of some of these applications.
  • 6.9: Calculus of the Hyperbolic Functions
    We were introduced to hyperbolic functions in Introduction to Functions and Graphs, along with some of their basic properties. In this section, we look at differentiation and integration formulas for the hyperbolic functions and their inverses.
  • 6.E: Applications of Integration (Exercises)
    These are homework exercises to accompany OpenStax's "Calculus" Textmap.

Thumbnail: A region between two functions.