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Sorry to sound incredibly ignorant, but I am...at least in math anyway. What does this symbol: $\int$ mean?

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You might want to look through wiki article on integration. –  Sasha Sep 6 '11 at 0:24
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There's no need to be so apologetic. We're all here to learn. –  Austin Mohr Sep 6 '11 at 0:41
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is the symbol for integration. You may have seen it in Calculus. For example, $$ \int x \, dx = \frac{1}{2}x^2 + C $$

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Can you give me an example (simple please!) –  david Sep 6 '11 at 0:23
    
I'm still in basic Geometry. What does this equation do?? –  david Sep 6 '11 at 0:24
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Until you study Calculus, I don't know how much I can really say about the mathematics. I can give you an example of its practical use, however. Suppose you run a business and had a function that told your profit at any moment in time. The integral can be used to determine your total profit over an interval of time, such as over the course of an entire year. –  Austin Mohr Sep 6 '11 at 0:31
    
Or rate of profit, anyway. –  anon Sep 6 '11 at 0:47
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@david: "I'm still in basic Geometry" - in that case, what book were you reading when you saw this? But Austin's right, you'll have to wait for calculus to appreciate this properly. –  J. M. Sep 6 '11 at 1:16
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