# MTH 252

Final Lab
Problem 4
Justin Drawbert
August 10, 2010
In Final Lab Problem 4 we are asked to ﬁnd the length of the loop of a curve that is given by
the parametric equations:
x = 3t −t
3
, y = 3t
2
The fact that we are told that this is a loop is a big clue. This means our curve will intersect
somewhere. If we graph this. . .
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
-2.5 -2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
y
x
x=3t-t
3
, y=3t
2
. . . we can see that appears our curve intersects the y-axis at y = 9. If indeed our curve does
intersect itself on the y-axis, this will occur for values of t such that x = 0. This is easy to check.
We simply take our ﬁrst equation, set x equal to zero, and solve. So we have
3t −t
3
= 0 ⇒ t(t
2
−3) = 0
t = −

3 or t = 0 or t =

3
y = ±

3 ⇒ 3

±

3

2
= 9
So we see that a loop is formed at t = ±

3, where x = 0 and y = 9. Keeping this in mind we then
recall the Arc Length Formula from page 456 of our textbook
Arc Length Formula If a smooth curve with parametric equations x = f(t),
y = g(t), a ≤ t ≤ b, is traversed exactly once as t increases from a to b, then
its length is
L =

b
a

dx
dt

2
+

dy
dt

2
dt
1
So by this, and knowing that our graph intersects itself at t = ±

3 we know our bounds will be

3 and

3. We’re almost ready to plug everything into the formula. In fact, we are ready, but
let’s make things a bit easier on ourselves by ﬁnding the derivatives of x and y beforehand.
dx
dt
= 3 −3t
2
,

dx
dt

2
= 9t
4
−18t
2
+ 9,
dy
dt
= 6t,

dy
dt

2
= 36t
2
With that out of the way, here we go.
L =

3

3

dx
dt

2
+

dy
dt

2
dt
=

3

3

9t
4
−18t
2
+ 9 + 36t
2
dt
=

3

3

9t
4
+ 18t
2
+ 9 dt
=

3

3

9 (t
2
+ 1)
2
dt
=

3

3
3

t
2
+ 1

dt
= 3 ·

3

3

t
2
+ 1

dt
= 3
¸
t
3
3
+ 1
¸

3

3
= 3
¸

3 +

3 −

3 −

3

= 12

3 ≈ 20.785
So the length of our curve is 12

3 or approximately 20.785
2

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