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Arkansas Tech University

MATH 2934: Calculus III
Dr. Marcel B. Finan
27 Triple Integrals in Spherical Coordinates
In spherical coordinates, a point P = (x, y, z) in the Cartesian 3-space can
be represented by by the ordered triple (ρ, θ, φ) where ρ is the distance from
the origin to the point, θ is the angle between the positive x−axis and the
line connecting the origin to the point Q = (x, y, 0), and φ is the angle
between the positive z−axis and the line connecting the origin to the point
P. Figure 27.1 shows the location of a point in both spherical and Cartesian
coordinates.
Figure 27.1
From Figure 27.4 we see that the relationship between the spherical and
Cartesian coordinates is as follows:
r =ρ sin φ
x =ρ cos θ sin φ
y =ρ sin θ sin φ
z =ρ cos φ
ρ
2
=x
2
+ y
2
+ z
2
1
where 0 ≤ ρ < ∞, 0 ≤ φ ≤ π, 0 ≤ θ ≤ 2π. Simple trigonometry yields
θ =tan
−1

y
x

φ =tan
−1

x
2
+ y
2
z

Example 27.1
Convert the point (−1, 1,

2) from Cartesian to spherical coordinates.
Solution.
We have
ρ =

x
2
+ y
2
+ z
2
=

1 + 1 + 2 = 2
θ = tan
−1
(−1) =

4
φ = tan
−1
(−1) =

4
Example 27.2
Identify the surface for each of the following equations.
(a) ρ = 5
(b) φ =
π
3
(c) θ =

3
(d) ρ sin φ = 2.
Solution.
(a) ρ = 5 implies x
2
+y
2
+z
2
= 25. Thus, the surface is a sphere centered at
the origin and with radius 5.
(b) This equation says that no matter how far away from the origin that we
move and no matter how much we rotate around the z−axis the point must
always be at an angle of
π
3
from the z−axis.
This is exactly what happens in a cone. All of the points on a cone are a
fixed angle from the z−axis. So, we have a cone whose points are all at an
angle of
π
3
from the z−axis. That is, a cone with vertex at the origin and
that opens up. The reflection of this cone about the xy−plane has equation
φ = π −
π
3
=

3
.
(c) This equation says that no matter how far from the origin we get or how
much we rotate down from the positive z−axis the points must always form
2
an angle of

3
with the x−axis.
Points in a vertical plane will do this. So, we have a vertical plane that forms
an angle of

3
with the positive x−axis.
(d) The given equation is equivalent to r = 2 where r as defined in Figure
99.4. Thus, x
2
+ y
2
= 4. This is a cylinder with radius 2 and with axis of
symmetry the z−axis
Integration in Spherical Coordinates
As in the case of cylindrical coordinates we want to express the elemental
volume ∆V = ∆x∆y∆z in terms of ∆ρ, ∆θ, and ∆φ. The elemental volume
in spherical coordinates is shown in Figure 27.2.
Figure 27.2
If ∆ρ, ∆θ and ∆φ are small enough, then we can regard this volume as ap-
proximately a box-shaped. The height of the box is ∆ρ, the width ρ sin φ∆θ,
and the length ρ∆φ. The elemental volume is therefore:
∆V = ρ
2
sin φ∆ρ∆φ∆θ
3
The integral over the solid region S in spherical coordinates is:

S
f(x, y, z)dV =

β
α

ψ
γ

b
a
f(ρ, θ, φ)ρ
2
sin φdρdφdθ
Example 27.3
Use spherical coordinates to derive the formula for the volume of a sphere
centered at the origin and with radius a.
Solution.
For a sphere, 0 ≤ ρ ≤ a, 0 ≤ θ ≤ 2π, 0 ≤ φ ≤ π. We therefore have

S
dV =


0

π
0

a
0
ρ
2
sin φdρdφdθ
=


0

π
0
a
3
3
sin φdφdθ
=
a
3
3


0
−cos φ|
π
0

=
2
3
a
3


0
dθ =
4
3
πa
3
Example 27.4
Find the volume that lies inside the sphere
x
2
+ y
2
+ z
2
= 2
and outside the cone
z
2
= x
2
+ y
2
Solution.
We convert to spherical coordinates. The sphere becomes
ρ =

2
To convert the cone, we add z
2
to both sides of the equation z
2
= x
2
+y
2
to
otbain
2z
2
= x
2
+ y
2
+ z
2
and this implies

2
cos
2
φ = ρ
2
4
Thus, φ = cos
−1


2
2

=
π
4
or

4
.
To find the volume we compute
V =


0

4
π
4


2
0
ρ
2
sin φdρdφdθ
=
2

2
3


0

4
π
4
sin φdφdθ
=
2

2
3


0
−cos φ|

4
π
4

=
4
3


0
dθ =
8
3
π
5