Questions tagged [calculus]

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

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958
votes
20answers
94k 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 ...
422
votes
23answers
123k 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 ...
405
votes
8answers
192k 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 ...
306
votes
8answers
31k 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 ...
277
votes
7answers
30k 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 ...
232
votes
4answers
18k views

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

Evaluate the following integral $$ \tag1\int_{0}^{\frac{\pi}{2}}\frac1{(1+x^2)(1+\tan x)}\,\mathrm dx $$ My Attempt: Letting $x=\frac{\pi}{2}-x$ and using the property that $$ \int_{0}^{a}f(x)\,\...
218
votes
13answers
166k 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 $\infty-\infty=0$.
211
votes
28answers
96k 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: $$\int_0^\infty \frac{\sin x} x \,\mathrm dx = \frac \pi 2$$ Well, can ...
203
votes
9answers
17k 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 W|A, i may guess that the limit is $\frac{1}{2}$ that is a pretty interesting and nice result. I ...
199
votes
6answers
113k 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 ...
171
votes
19answers
50k views

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

How to prove $$\int_{0}^{\infty} \mathrm{e}^{-x^2}\, dx = \frac{\sqrt \pi}{2}$$
163
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
157
votes
4answers
8k 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}{...
148
votes
19answers
23k 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 ...
145
votes
8answers
34k 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 ...
143
votes
8answers
21k 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 ...
142
votes
6answers
162k 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 ...
142
votes
12answers
56k 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 ...
140
votes
37answers
12k 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 ...
138
votes
15answers
10k 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 ...
133
votes
1answer
12k 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)...
131
votes
1answer
5k 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 $...
130
votes
25answers
9k 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?...
120
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
118
votes
2answers
5k 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 $$\int_0^1 \tan^{-1}\left[\frac{\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}{\pi+\tanh^{-1}x-\tan^{-1}x}\right]\frac{dx}{x}$$ $$=\frac{\pi}{8}\ln\frac{\pi^2}{8}?$$
116
votes
11answers
8k 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. ...
115
votes
10answers
33k 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 ...
114
votes
8answers
24k 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{...
113
votes
6answers
12k 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 ...
112
votes
7answers
5k 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 $\...
108
votes
9answers
16k 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 ...
107
votes
5answers
9k views

Why does L'Hopital's rule fail in this case?

$$\lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{x}{x+\sin(x)}$$ 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\...
107
votes
9answers
5k views

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

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 $$\frac{d}{dx} x^{n} = nx^{n-1}$$ ...
105
votes
2answers
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 ...
103
votes
3answers
10k 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]\, ...
103
votes
10answers
7k 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 ...
103
votes
8answers
59k 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 ...
102
votes
15answers
39k 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_{...
98
votes
13answers
13k 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 ...
98
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
98
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
95
votes
4answers
21k 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 ...
94
votes
11answers
8k 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 $\frac{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}{\sec \theta + \tan \theta}$ and then ...
94
votes
6answers
30k 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 ...
94
votes
3answers
5k 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, $$\lim_{x\to0}\frac{\tan x-x}{x^3}$$ $$\lim_{x\to0}\frac{\sin x-x}{x^3}$$ $$\...
93
votes
13answers
14k views

Don't see the point of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

$$\frac{d}{dx}\int_a^xf(t)\,dt$$ I would love to to understand what exactly is the point of FTC. I'm not interested in mechanically churning out solutions to problems. It doesn't state anything ...
93
votes
12answers
13k 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 ...
93
votes
7answers
5k views

Is the “determinant” that shows up accidental?

Consider the class of rational functions that are the result of dividing one linear function by another: $$\frac{a + bx}{c + dx}$$ One can easily compute that, for $\displaystyle x \neq \frac cd$ $$\...
91
votes
13answers
5k views

Limit of sequence in which each term is defined by the average of preceding two terms

We have a sequence of numbers $x_n$ determined by the equality $$x_n = \frac{x_{n-1} + x_{n-2}}{2}$$ The first and zeroth term are $x_1$ and $x_0$.The following limit must be expressed in terms of $...
91
votes
11answers
7k 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? $$\int_0^\infty\frac{\cos\;x}{1+x^2}\mathrm{d}x$$