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**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) =

3π

4

φ = tan

−1

(−1) =

3π

4

Example 27.2

Identify the surface for each of the following equations.

(a) ρ = 5

(b) φ =

π

3

(c) θ =

2π

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

=

2π

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

2π

3

with the x−axis.

Points in a vertical plane will do this. So, we have a vertical plane that forms

an angle of

2π

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 =

2π

0

π

0

a

0

ρ

2

sin φdρdφdθ

=

2π

0

π

0

a

3

3

sin φdφdθ

=

a

3

3

2π

0

−cos φ|

π

0

dθ

=

2

3

a

3

2π

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

2ρ

2

cos

2

φ = ρ

2

4

Thus, φ = cos

−1

√

2

2

=

π

4

or

3π

4

.

To ﬁnd the volume we compute

V =

2π

0

3π

4

π

4

√

2

0

ρ

2

sin φdρdφdθ

=

2

√

2

3

2π

0

3π

4

π

4

sin φdφdθ

=

2

√

2

3

2π

0

−cos φ|

3π

4

π

4

dθ

=

4

3

2π

0

dθ =

8

3

π

5

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