For basic questions about limits, derivatives, integrals, and applications, mainly of one-variable functions.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

336
votes
16answers
31k views

Is $\frac{dy}{dx}$ not a ratio?

In the book Thomas's Calculus (11th edition) it is mentioned (Section 3.8 pg 225) that the derivative $\frac{dy}{dx}$ is not a ratio. Couldn't it be interpreted as a ratio, because according to the ...
135
votes
5answers
34k views

Integral $\int_{-1}^1\frac1x\sqrt{\frac{1+x}{1-x}}\ln\left(\frac{2\,x^2+2\,x+1}{2\,x^2-2\,x+1}\right) \ \mathrm dx$

I need help with this integral: $$I=\int_{-1}^1\frac1x\sqrt{\frac{1+x}{1-x}}\ln\left(\frac{2\,x^2+2\,x+1}{2\,x^2-2\,x+1}\right)\ \mathrm dx.$$ The integrand graph looks like this: $\hspace{1in}$ The ...
108
votes
1answer
6k views

Evaluate $ \int_{0}^{\frac{\pi}{2}}\frac{1}{(1+x^2)(1+\tan x)}\,\mathrm dx$

Evaluate the following integral$$\int_{0}^{\Large\frac{\pi}{2}}\frac{1}{(1+x^2)(1+\tan x)}\,\mathrm dx$$ My Attempt: Let $$\tag1 I = \int_{0}^{\Large\frac{\pi}{2}}\frac{1}{(1+x^2)(1+\tan ...
89
votes
4answers
6k views

Symmetry of function defined by integral

Define a function $f(\alpha, \beta)$, $\alpha \in (-1,1)$, $\beta \in (-1,1)$ as $$ f(\alpha, \beta) = \int_0^{\infty} dx \: \frac{x^{\alpha}}{1+2 x \cos{(\pi \beta)} + x^2}$$ You can use, for ...
86
votes
6answers
7k views

How can you prove that a function has no closed form integral?

I've come across statements in the past along the lines of "function $f(x)$ has no closed form integral", which I assume means that there is no combination of the operations: addition/subtraction ...
83
votes
11answers
8k views

How can I find the surface area of a normal chicken egg?

This morning, I had eggs for breakfast, and I was looking at the pieces of broken shells and thought "What is the surface area of this egg?" The problem is that I have no real idea about how to find ...
79
votes
2answers
3k views

How to prove $\int_0^1\tan^{-1}\left[\frac{\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}{\pi+\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}\right]\frac{dx}{x}=\frac{\pi}{8}\ln\frac{\pi^2}{8}?$

How can one prove that $$\int_0^1 \tan^{-1}\left[\frac{\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}{\pi+\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}\right]\frac{dx}{x}$$ $$=\frac{\pi}{8}\ln\frac{\pi^2}{8}?$$
76
votes
3answers
30k views

What is the practical difference between a differential and a derivative?

I ask because, as a first-year calculus student, I am running into the fact that I didn't quite get this down when understanding the derivative: So, a derivative is the rate of change of a function ...
74
votes
18answers
14k views

Striking applications of integration by parts

What are your favorite applications of integration by parts? (The answers can be as lowbrow or highbrow as you wish. I'd just like to get a bunch of these in one place!) Thanks for your ...
71
votes
10answers
3k views

Why does factoring eliminate a hole in the limit?

$$\lim _{x\rightarrow 5}\frac{x^2-25}{x-5} = \lim_{x\rightarrow 5} (x+5)$$ I understand that to evaluate a limit that has a zero ("hole") in the denominator we have to factor and cancel terms, and ...
68
votes
3answers
2k views

A math contest problem $\int_0^1\ln\left(1+\frac{\ln^2x}{4\,\pi^2}\right)\frac{\ln(1-x)}x \ \mathrm dx$

A friend of mine sent me a math contest problem that I am not able to solve (he does not know a solution either). So, I thought I might ask you for help. Prove: ...
67
votes
8answers
3k views

Self-Contained Proof that $\sum\limits_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac1{n^p}$ Converges for $p > 1$

To prove the convergence of $$\sum_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac1{n^p}$$ for $p > 1$, one typically appeals to either the Integral Test or the Cauchy Condensation Test. I am wondering if there is a ...
64
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there an integral that proves $\pi > 333/106$?

The following integral, $$ \int_0^1 \frac{x^4(1-x)^4}{x^2 + 1} \mathrm{d}x = \frac{22}{7} - \pi $$ is clearly positive, which proves that $\pi < 22/7$. Is there a similar integral which proves ...
64
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the derivative the natural logarithm of the left-shift?

(Disclaimer: I'm a high school student, and my knowledge of mathematics extends only to some elementary high school calculus. I don't know if what I'm about to do is valid mathematics.) I noticed ...
60
votes
6answers
1k views

Does L'Hôpital's work the other way?

Hello fellows, As referred in Wikipedia (see the specified criteria there), L'Hôpital's rule says, $$ \lim_{x\to c}\frac{f(x)}{g(x)}=\lim_{x\to c}\frac{f'(x)}{g'(x)} $$ As $$ \lim_{x\to ...
57
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is $1^{\infty}$ considered to be an indeterminate form

From Wikipedia: In calculus and other branches of mathematical analysis, an indeterminate form is an algebraic expression obtained in the context of limits. Limits involving algebraic operations are ...
56
votes
6answers
4k views

Area covered by a constant length segment rotating around the center of a square.

This is an idea I have had in my head for years and years and I would like to know the answer, and also I would like to know if it's somehow relevant to anything or useless. I describe my thoughts ...
55
votes
8answers
3k views

Evaluating $\lim_{n\to\infty} e^{-n} \sum\limits_{k=0}^{n} \frac{n^k}{k!}$

I'm supposed to calculate: $$\lim_{n\to\infty} e^{-n} \sum_{k=0}^{n} \frac{n^k}{k!}$$ By using W|A, i may guess that the limit is $\frac{1}{2}$ that is a pretty interesting and nice result. I ...
54
votes
12answers
6k views

How to prove that $\lim\limits_{x\to0}\frac{\sin x}x=1$?

How can one prove the statement $$\lim\limits_{x\to 0}\frac{\sin x}x=1$$ without using the Taylor series of $\sin$, $\cos$ and $\tan$? Best would be a geometrical solution. This is homework. In my ...
52
votes
6answers
4k views

Ways to evaluate $\int \sec \theta \, d \theta$

The standard approach for showing $\int \sec \theta \, d \theta = \ln |\sec \theta + \tan \theta| + C$ is to multiply by $\frac{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}$ and then do a ...
51
votes
1answer
3k views

How to determine with certainty that a function has no elementary antiderivative?

Given an expression such as $f(x) = x^x$, is it possible to provide a thorough and rigorous proof that there is no function $F(x)$ (expressible in terms of known algebraic and transcendental ...
51
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a function with a removable discontinuity at every point?

If memory serves, ten years ago to the week (or so), I taught first semester freshman calculus for the first time. As many calculus instructors do, I decided I should ask some extra credit questions ...
50
votes
14answers
8k views

Proving $\int_{0}^{\infty} \mathrm{e}^{-x^2} dx = \dfrac{\sqrt \pi}{2}$

How to prove $$\int_{0}^{\infty} \mathrm{e}^{-x^2}\, dx = \frac{\sqrt \pi}{2}$$
49
votes
8answers
5k views

Proof that $C\exp(x)$ is the only set of functions for which $f(x) = f'(x)$

I was wondering the following. And I probably know the answer already: NO. Is there another number with similar properties as $e$. So that the derivative of $\exp(x)$ is the same as the function ...
49
votes
7answers
7k views

Lesser-known integration tricks

I am currently studying for the GRE math subject test, which heavily tests calculus. I've reviewed most of the basic calculus techniques (integration by parts, trig substitutions, etc.) I am now ...
47
votes
15answers
3k views

Why does the series $\sum_{n=1}^\infty\frac1n$ not converge?

Can someone give a simple explanation for why the harmonic series $$\sum_{n=1}^\infty\frac1n=\frac 1 1 + \frac 12 + \frac 13 + \cdots $$ doesn't converge, but it just grows very slowly? I'd ...
47
votes
7answers
1k views

What's so “natural” about the base of natural logarithms?

There are so many available bases. Why is the strange number $e$ preferred over all else? Of course one could integrate $\frac{1}x$ and see this. But is there more to the story?
47
votes
0answers
1k views

Identification of a curious function

During computation of some Shapley values (details below), I encountered the following function: $$ f\left(\sum_{k \geq 0} 2^{-p_k}\right) = \sum_{k \geq 0} \frac{1}{(p_k+1)\binom{p_k}{k}}, $$ where ...
45
votes
5answers
2k views

Compute $\int \frac{\sin(x)}{\sin(x)+\cos(x)}\mathrm dx$

I've got troubles in computing the below integral: $$\int \frac{\sin(x)}{\sin(x)+\cos(x)}\mathrm dx$$ I hope it can be expressed in elementary functions. I've tried simple substitution as $u=\sin(x)$ ...
45
votes
13answers
6k views

Why do we need to learn integration techniques?

After a lifetime of approaching math the wrong way, I took two college math courses this quarter with a newfound zest for math. These classes are integral calc and multivariable calc. Integral calc ...
45
votes
4answers
2k views

Showing that $\int\limits_{-a}^a \frac{f(x)}{1+e^{x}} \mathrm dx = \int\limits_0^a f(x) \mathrm dx$, when $f$ is even

I have a question: Suppose $f$ is continuous and even on $[-a,a]$, $a>0$ then prove that $$\int\limits_{-a}^a \frac{f(x)}{1+e^{x}} \mathrm dx = \int\limits_0^a f(x) \mathrm dx$$ How can I ...
44
votes
10answers
2k views

Proving an alternating Euler sum: $\sum_{k=1}^{\infty} \frac{(-1)^{k+1} H_k}{k} = \frac{1}{2} \zeta(2) - \frac{1}{2} \log^2 2$

Let $$A(p,q) = \sum_{k=1}^{\infty} \frac{(-1)^{k+1}H^{(p)}_k}{k^q},$$ where $H^{(p)}_n = \sum_{i=1}^n i^{-p}$, the $n$th $p$-harmonic number. The $A(p,q)$'s are known as alternating Euler sums. ...
43
votes
10answers
4k views

What is $dx$ in integration?

When I was at school and learning integration in maths class at A Level my teacher wrote things like this on the board. $$\int f(x)\, dx$$ When he came to explain the meaning of the $dx$, he told us ...
43
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the importance of Calculus in today's Mathematics?

For engineering (e. g. electrical engineering) and physics, Calculus is important. But for a future mathematician, is the classical approach to Calculus still important? What is normally taught, as a ...
43
votes
2answers
1k views

Conjecture $\int_0^1\frac{dx}{\sqrt[3]x\,\sqrt[6]{1-x}\,\sqrt{1-x\left(\sqrt{6}\sqrt{12+7\sqrt3}-3\sqrt3-6\right)^2}}=\frac\pi9(3+\sqrt2\sqrt[4]{27})$

Let $$\alpha=\sqrt{6}\ \sqrt{12+7\,\sqrt3}-3\,\sqrt3-6.\tag1$$ Note that $\alpha$ is the unique positive root of the polynomial equation $$\alpha^4+24\,\alpha^3+18\,\alpha^2-27=0.\tag2$$ Now consider ...
42
votes
5answers
2k views

The Intuition behind l'Hopitals Rule

I understand perfectly well how to apply l'Hopital's rule, and how to prove it, but I've never grokked the theorem. Why is it that we should expect that $$\lim_{x\to a}\frac{f(x)}{g(x)}=\lim_{x \to ...
42
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a function with the property$ f(n)=f^{(n)}(a)$

Is there a not identically zero, real-analytic function $f\colon\mathbb R\to\mathbb R$, which satisfies $$f(n)=f^{(n)}(a),n\in\mathbb N \text{ or }\mathbb N^+?$$ and $a\in \mathbb R$ I saw a ...
41
votes
4answers
3k views

Motivation for Ramanujan's mysterious $\pi$ formula

The following formula for $\pi$ was discovered by Ramanujan: $$\frac1{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum_{k=0}^\infty \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}\!$$ Does anyone know how it works, or ...
41
votes
5answers
1k views

What is so special about $\alpha=-1$ in the integral of $x^\alpha$?

Of course, it is easy to see, that the integral (or the antiderivative) of $f(x) = 1/x$ is $\log(|x|)$ and of course for $\alpha\neq 1$ the antiderivative of $f(x) = x^\alpha$ is ...
40
votes
5answers
2k views

$n$th derivative of $e^{1/x}$

I am trying to find the $n$'th derivative of $f(x)=e^{1/x}$. When looking at the first few derivatives I noticed a pattern and eventually found the following formula $$\frac{\mathrm d^n}{\mathrm ...
40
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a bounded function $f$ with $f'$ unbounded and $f''$ bounded?

Is there a $C^{2}$-function $f:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ that is bounded and such that $f'(x)$ is unbounded, but $f''(x)$ is bounded again? For example, $f(x)=\sin(x^2)$ is bounded and has ...
40
votes
2answers
430 views

Conjecture $_2F_1\left(\frac14,\frac34;\,\frac23;\,\frac13\right)=\frac1{\sqrt{\sqrt{\frac4{\sqrt{2-\sqrt[3]4}}+\sqrt[3]{4}+4}-\sqrt{2-\sqrt[3]4}-2}}$

Using a numerical search on my computer I discovered the following inequality: $$\left|\,{_2F_1}\left(\frac14,\frac34;\,\frac23;\,\frac13\right)-\rho\,\right|<10^{-20000},\tag1$$ where $\rho$ is ...
39
votes
2answers
3k views

Compute $ \lim\limits_{n \to \infty }\sin \sin \dots\sin n$

I need your help with evaluating this limit: $$ \lim_{n \to \infty }\underbrace{\sin \sin \dots\sin}_{\text{$n$ compositions}} n,$$ i.e. we apply the $\sin$ function $n$ times. Thank you.
39
votes
9answers
11k views

What is the meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point

(Originally asked on MO by AJAY.) What is the geometric, physical, or other meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point? If you have interesting things to say about the meaning of the ...
39
votes
1answer
1k views

Conjecture $\int_0^1\frac{dx}{\sqrt{1-x}\ \sqrt[4]x\ \sqrt[4]{2-x\,\sqrt3}}\stackrel?=\frac{2\,\sqrt2}{3\,\sqrt[8]3}\pi$

$$\int_0^1\frac{dx}{\sqrt{1-x}\ \sqrt[4]x\ \sqrt[4]{2-x\,\sqrt3}}\stackrel?=\frac{2\,\sqrt2}{3\,\sqrt[8]3}\pi\tag1$$ The equality numerically holds up to at least $10^4$ decimal digits. Can we ...
37
votes
5answers
6k views

Why is integration so much harder than differentiation?

If a function is a combination of other functions whose derivatives are known via composition, addition, etc., the derivative can be calculated using the chain rule and the like. But even the product ...
37
votes
1answer
1k views

The $100$th derivative of $(x^2 + 1)/(x^3 - x)$

I am reading a collection of problems by the Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnol'd, titled A Mathematical Trivium. I am taking a stab at this one: Calculate the $100$th derivative of the function ...
37
votes
5answers
2k views

Convergence/Divergence of infinite series $\sum_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac{(\sin(n)+2)^n}{n3^n}$

$$ \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac{(\sin(n)+2)^n}{n3^n}$$ Does it converge or diverge? Can we have a rigorous proof that is not probabilistic? For reference, this question is supposedly a mix of real ...
37
votes
3answers
883 views

Calculus conjecture

When I was a senior in high school in 2001, as I took calculus, I made the following conjecture that proves resistive to attack. It goes like this: For every positive integer $n$, there are exactly ...
36
votes
5answers
3k views

Evaluate the integral: $\int_{0}^{1} \frac{\ln(x+1)}{x^2+1} dx$

Compute $$\int_{0}^{1} \frac{\ln(x+1)}{x^2+1} dx$$