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Questions tagged [calculus]

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

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1296 votes
27 answers
145k views

Is $\frac{\textrm{d}y}{\textrm{d}x}$ not a ratio?

In the book Thomas's Calculus (11th edition) it is mentioned (Section 3.8 pg 225) that the derivative $\frac{\textrm{d}y}{\textrm{d}x}$ is not a ratio. Couldn't it be interpreted as a ratio, because ...
BBSysDyn's user avatar
  • 16.2k
585 votes
14 answers
367k 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 ...
Laila Podlesny's user avatar
554 votes
30 answers
232k views

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

How can one prove the statement $$\lim_{x\to 0}\frac{\sin x}x=1$$ without using the Taylor series of $\sin$, $\cos$ and $\tan$? Best would be a geometrical solution. This is homework. In my math ...
FUZxxl's user avatar
  • 9,317
358 votes
7 answers
52k views

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

In the past, I've come across statements 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/...
Simon Nickerson's user avatar
356 votes
8 answers
56k views

Calculating the length of the paper on a toilet paper roll

Fun with Math time. My mom gave me a roll of toilet paper to put it in the bathroom, and looking at it I immediately wondered about this: is it possible, through very simple math, to calculate (with ...
Enrico M.'s user avatar
  • 26.2k
278 votes
5 answers
25k views

Evaluate $\int_{0}^{\frac{\pi}2}\frac1{(1+x^2)(1+\tan x)}\,\Bbb dx$

Evaluate the following integral $$ \tag1\int_{0}^{\frac{\pi}{2}}\frac1{(1+x^2)(1+\tan x)}\,\Bbb dx $$ My Attempt: Letting $x=\frac{\pi}{2}-x$ and using the property that $$ \int_{0}^{a}f(x)\,\Bbb dx =...
juantheron's user avatar
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275 votes
7 answers
160k 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 ...
Faqa's user avatar
  • 2,751
274 votes
32 answers
134k views

Evaluating the integral $\int_0^\infty \frac{\sin x} x \,\mathrm dx = \frac \pi 2$?

A famous exercise which one encounters while doing Complex Analysis (Residue theory) is to prove that the given integral: $$\int\limits_0^\infty \frac{\sin x} x \,\mathrm dx = \frac \pi 2$$ Well, can ...
user avatar
266 votes
10 answers
341k views

Derivative of sigmoid function $\sigma (x) = \frac{1}{1+e^{-x}}$

In my AI textbook there is this paragraph, without any explanation. The sigmoid function is defined as follows $$\sigma (x) = \frac{1}{1+e^{-x}}.$$ This function is easy to differentiate ...
Bryan Glazer's user avatar
  • 3,044
265 votes
9 answers
35k views

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

I'm supposed to calculate: $$\lim_{n\to\infty} e^{-n} \sum_{k=0}^{n} \frac{n^k}{k!}$$ By using WolframAlpha, I might guess that the limit is $\frac{1}{2}$, which is a pretty interesting and nice ...
user 1591719's user avatar
  • 44.3k
241 votes
11 answers
181k views

What is the result of $\infty - \infty$?

I would say $\infty - \infty=0$ because even though $\infty$ is an undetermined number, $\infty = \infty$. So $\infty-\infty=0$.
Pacerier's user avatar
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218 votes
21 answers
159k views

Evaluation of Gaussian integral $\int_{0}^{\infty} \mathrm{e}^{-x^2} dx$

How to prove $$\int_{0}^{\infty} \mathrm{e}^{-x^2}\, dx = \frac{\sqrt \pi}{2}$$
Jichao's user avatar
  • 8,018
193 votes
12 answers
92k 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 ...
Sachin Kainth's user avatar
181 votes
6 answers
13k 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: $$\int_0^1\ln\left(1+\frac{\ln^2x}{...
Vladimir Reshetnikov's user avatar
179 votes
6 answers
9k views

Symmetry of function defined by integral

Define a function $f(\alpha, \beta)$, $\alpha \in (-1,1)$, $\beta \in (-1,1)$ as $$ f(\alpha, \beta) = \int_0^{\infty} dx \: \frac{x^{\alpha}}{1+2 x \cos{(\pi \beta)} + x^2}$$ One can use, for ...
Ron Gordon's user avatar
  • 139k
176 votes
9 answers
34k 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 ...
user avatar
174 votes
20 answers
30k 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 ...
172 votes
8 answers
43k 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 ...
171 votes
45 answers
18k views

Is there any integral for the Golden Ratio?

I was wondering about important/famous mathematical constants, like $e$, $\pi$, $\gamma$, and obviously the golden ratio $\phi$. The first three ones are really well known, and there are lots of ...
Enrico M.'s user avatar
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165 votes
16 answers
16k 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 ...
Emi Matro's user avatar
  • 5,033
164 votes
26 answers
38k views

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

Can someone give a simple explanation as to why the harmonic series $$\sum_{n=1}^\infty\frac1n=\frac 1 1 + \frac 12 + \frac 13 + \cdots $$ doesn't converge, on the other hand it grows very slowly?...
bryn's user avatar
  • 9,764
164 votes
1 answer
22k 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 functions)...
hesson's user avatar
  • 2,074
144 votes
16 answers
11k 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. ...
Mike Spivey's user avatar
  • 55.7k
144 votes
1 answer
6k 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 $...
Yuval Filmus's user avatar
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141 votes
6 answers
55k 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 ...
Venge's user avatar
  • 1,591
138 votes
10 answers
187k views

What is the Jacobian matrix?

What is the Jacobian matrix? What are its applications? What is its physical and geometrical meaning? Can someone please explain with examples?
Pratik Deoghare's user avatar
135 votes
9 answers
7k 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 $\...
user avatar
134 votes
11 answers
40k views

How to find ${\large\int}_0^1\frac{\ln^3(1+x)\ln x}x\mathrm dx$

Please help me to find a closed form for this integral: $$I=\int_0^1\frac{\ln^3(1+x)\ln x}x\mathrm dx\tag1$$ I suspect it might exist because there are similar integrals having closed forms: $$\begin{...
Oksana Gimmel's user avatar
134 votes
2 answers
6k 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 $$\int_0^1 \tan^{-1}\left[\frac{\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}{\pi+\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}\right]\frac{dx}{x}=\frac{\pi}{8}\ln\frac{\pi^2}{8}?$$
larry's user avatar
  • 1,489
133 votes
5 answers
13k views

Why does L'Hopital's rule fail in calculating $\lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{x}{x+\sin(x)}$?

$$\lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{x}{x+\sin(x)}$$ This is of the indeterminate form of type $\frac{\infty}{\infty}$, so we can apply l'Hopital's rule: $$\lim_{x\to\infty}\frac{x}{x+\sin(x)}=\lim_{x\to\...
eMathHelp's user avatar
  • 2,319
132 votes
9 answers
27k views

Prove that $C e^x$ is the only set of functions for which $f(x) = f'(x)$

I was wondering on the following and I probably know the answer already: NO. Is there another number with similar properties as $e$? So that the derivative of $ e^x$ is the same as the function itself....
Timo Willemsen's user avatar
132 votes
4 answers
23k views

What is the probability that a point chosen randomly from inside an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than to any of the edges?

My friend gave me this puzzle: What is the probability that a point chosen at random from the interior of an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than any of its edges? I tried to draw ...
terrace's user avatar
  • 2,017
127 votes
3 answers
10k views

Are all limits solvable without L'Hôpital Rule or Series Expansion

Is it always possible to find the limit of a function without using L'Hôpital Rule or Series Expansion? For example, $$\lim_{x\to0}\frac{\tan x-x}{x^3}$$ $$\lim_{x\to0}\frac{\sin x-x}{x^3}$$ $$\...
lab bhattacharjee's user avatar
127 votes
8 answers
85k views

Why is the derivative of a circle's area its perimeter (and similarly for spheres)?

When differentiated with respect to $r$, the derivative of $\pi r^2$ is $2 \pi r$, which is the circumference of a circle. Similarly, when the formula for a sphere's volume $\frac{4}{3} \pi r^3$ is ...
bryn's user avatar
  • 9,764
124 votes
10 answers
44k 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 ...
yiyi's user avatar
  • 7,352
123 votes
18 answers
53k views

Nice proofs of $\zeta(4) = \frac{\pi^4}{90}$?

I know some nice ways to prove that $\zeta(2) = \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} \frac{1}{n^2} = \pi^2/6$. For example, see Robin Chapman's list or the answers to the question "Different methods to compute $\sum_{...
Mike Spivey's user avatar
  • 55.7k
123 votes
13 answers
19k views

Why can't calculus be done on the rational numbers?

I was once told that one must have a notion of the reals to take limits of functions. I don't see how this is true since it can be written for all functions from the rationals to the rationals, which ...
Praise Existence's user avatar
121 votes
10 answers
9k views

Motivation for the rigour of real analysis

I am about to finish my first year of studying mathematics at university and have completed the basic linear algebra/calculus sequence. I have started to look at some real analysis and have really ...
1729's user avatar
  • 2,157
121 votes
4 answers
32k 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 ...
Nick Alger's user avatar
  • 18.9k
120 votes
10 answers
6k views

The deep reason why $\int \frac{1}{x}\operatorname{d}x$ is a transcendental function ($\log$) [duplicate]

In general, the indefinite integral of $x^n$ has power $n+1$. This is the standard power rule. Why does it "break" for $n=-1$? In other words, the derivative rule $$\frac{d}{dx} x^{n} = nx^{n-1}$$ ...
Shuheng Zheng's user avatar
120 votes
10 answers
15k views

Proof of Frullani's theorem

How can I prove the Theorem of Frullani? I did not even know all the hypothesis that $f$ must satisfy, but I think that this are Let $\,f:\left[ {0,\infty } \right) \to \mathbb R$ be a a continuously ...
August's user avatar
  • 3,543
118 votes
13 answers
17k views

Calculating the integral $\int_0^\infty \frac{\cos x}{1+x^2}\, \mathrm{d}x$ without using complex analysis

Suppose that we do not know anything about the complex analysis (numbers). In this case, how to calculate the following integral in closed form? $$\int_0^\infty\frac{\cos x}{1+x^2}\,\mathrm{d}x$$
Martin Gales's user avatar
  • 6,878
118 votes
4 answers
12k views

Compute $\int_0^{\pi/4}\frac{(1-x^2)\ln(1+x^2)+(1+x^2)-(1-x^2)\ln(1-x^2)}{(1-x^4)(1+x^2)} x\exp(\frac{x^2-1}{x^2+1}) dx$

Compute the following integral \begin{equation} \int_0^{\Large\frac{\pi}{4}}\left[\frac{(1-x^2)\ln(1+x^2)+(1+x^2)-(1-x^2)\ln(1-x^2)}{(1-x^4)(1+x^2)}\right] x\, \exp\left[\frac{x^2-1}{x^2+1}\right]\, ...
Anastasiya-Romanova 秀's user avatar
118 votes
5 answers
39k views

An integral involving Airy functions $\int_0^\infty\frac{x^p}{\operatorname{Ai}^2 x + \operatorname{Bi}^2 x}\mathrm dx$

I need your help with this integral: $$\mathcal{K}(p)=\int_0^\infty\frac{x^p}{\operatorname{Ai}^2 x + \operatorname{Bi}^2 x}\mathrm dx,$$ where $\operatorname{Ai}$, $\operatorname{Bi}$ are Airy ...
Cleo's user avatar
  • 21.4k
116 votes
13 answers
16k views

In calculus, which questions can the naive ask that the learned cannot answer?

Number theory is known to be a field in which many questions that can be understood by secondary-school pupils have defied the most formidable mathematicians' attempts to answer them. Calculus is not ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
116 votes
6 answers
14k views

What did Alan Turing mean when he said he didn't fully understand dy/dx?

Alan Turing's notebook has recently been sold at an auction house in London. In it he says this: Written out: The Leibniz notation $\frac{\mathrm{d}y}{\mathrm{d}x}$ I find extremely difficult to ...
Matta's user avatar
  • 1,658
113 votes
6 answers
134k views

Why is the area under a curve the integral?

I understand how derivatives work based on the definition, and the fact that my professor explained it step by step until the point where I can derive it myself. However when it comes to the area ...
qwertymk's user avatar
  • 1,397
112 votes
11 answers
15k views

Finding the limit of $\frac {n}{\sqrt[n]{n!}}$

I'm trying to find $$\lim_{n\to\infty}\frac{n}{\sqrt[n]{n!}} .$$ I tried couple of methods: Stolz, Squeeze, D'Alambert Thanks! Edit: I can't use Stirling.
112 votes
1 answer
4k views

Generalization of Liouville's theorem

As proposed in this answer, I wonder if the answer to following question is known. Let $E = E_0$ be the set of elementary functions. For each $i > 0$, inductively define $E_i$ to be the closure ...
RghtHndSd's user avatar
  • 7,715
111 votes
15 answers
12k views

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

The standard approach for showing $\int \sec \theta \, \mathrm d \theta = \ln|\sec \theta + \tan \theta| + C$ is to multiply by $\dfrac{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}$ and then ...
Mike Spivey's user avatar
  • 55.7k

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