Evaluate the indefinite integral:

$$\int \frac{1}{x^2} \sin\left(\frac{6}{x}\right) \cos\left(\frac{6}{x}\right) \, dx $$

(using substitution)

The answer is: $$\frac {1}{24} \cos\left(\frac{12}{x}\right) + C $$

Whereas I get a slightly different one.

Here's my solution:

$$u = \frac{6}{x}$$

$$du = - \frac{6}{x^2} \cdot dx$$

$$-\frac {1}{6} du = \frac {1}{x^2} \cdot dx$$

Making substitution:

$$ \int -\frac{1}{6} du \sin (u) \cos (u) $$

adding a new variable for substitution:

$$s = \cos (u)$$

$$ds = -sin(u) du$$

Making substitution:

$$ \frac {1}{6} \int ds \cdot s $$


$$ \frac{1}{6} \cdot \frac{s^2}{2} = \frac{s^2}{12} = \frac{\cos^2(u)}{12} = \frac{\cos^2(\frac{6}{x})}{12}$$

Then using a half angle formula for $\cos^2$:

$$ \frac {\frac{1}{2} \cdot (1 + \cos(\frac{12}{x}))}{12} = \frac{1}{24} + \frac{1}{24} \cdot \cos\left(\frac{12}{x}\right) + C$$

As you can see I have an additional $\frac{1}{24}$ in my answer... so what did I do wrong?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Did you notice the +C in the original answer there? The constant absorbs that $+1/24$! $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2015 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Jesse P Francis So are you saying there's never a constant in the answers for integrals that were evaluated? I wonder why is that? I already integrated the function... why does my constant need to disappear... because of C... $\endgroup$
    – dramadeur
    Apr 27, 2015 at 4:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dramadeur It doesn't disappear per se; in this case Jesse is defining a new constant $C' := C + \frac{1}{24}$ and then renaming $C'$ as $C$. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2015 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Travis, he edited the question and added constant, anyway, dramadeur, I think what Travis said is what you are confused with!:) $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2015 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


You missed the constant of integration all the way! It "absorbs" the $\frac{1}{24}$!

Spot the difference:


$\displaystyle \frac{1}{6} \cdot \frac{s^2}{2} +c= \frac{s^2}{12} +c= \frac{\cos^2(u)}{12} +c= \frac{\cos^2(\frac{6}{x})}{12}+c$, where c is the constant of integration.

Then using a half angle formula for $\cos^2$:

$\displaystyle \frac {\frac{1}{2} \cdot (1 + \cos(\frac{12}{x}))}{12} +c$ = $\frac{1}{24} \cdot \cos(\frac{12}{x}) + C$, where $C=c+\frac{1}{24}$


You did everything right, but you're constant of integration "absorbs" the $\frac{1}{24}$


The $C$ is an arbitrary constant meaning that it could be anything (depending on our initial conditions). So, what's a constant plus an arbitrary constant? It's just another arbitrary constant!

If it helps, you could do something like:



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