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Meredith Hinz

Mrs. Tallman

AP Calculus

27 March 2017

Riemann Sums

One might ask Why would anyone ever need to know about Riemann sums, Trapezoidal

rules, or Simpsons rules? To find area of course! While taking the integral of the function is

one way to find the area under a curve, it is not the only way. Continue on to learn all about the

sheer awesomeness of mathematics!

To start off, a Riemann sum is shown in the form f(x)dx, in which each term of the sum

represents the area of a rectangle of altitude f(x) and base dx. A Riemann sum gives an

approximate value for a definite integral. The limit of a Riemann sum as dx approaches zero is

the basis for the formal definition of a definite integral (Foerster, Paul). A Riemann sum is used

to approximate the area under a curve.

A similar process is called the Trapezoidal rule. Both Riemann sums and the trapezoidal

rule are similar, but while Riemann sums use rectangles, the Trapezoidal rule uses trapezoids to

approximate the area under a function.

Simpsons rule is another way to approximate a definite integral. This technique however,

is used by replacing the graph of the integrand with segments of parabolas, then adding up the

areas of the regions under the parabolic segments. Simpsons rule is similar to the trapezoidal

rule, except that the graph is replaced by segments of quadratic functions rather than by segments

of linear functions.
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All three techniques, Riemann sums, the Trapezoidal rule, and Simpsons rule, are used to

approximate the area under a curve. However, there are multiple differences between the three.

For example, as previously mentioned, Riemann sums approximate the area by adding up

rectangles, but the Trapezoidal rule adds up trapezoids, and Simpsons rule uses parabolic

segments to approximate the area.

Simpsons rule is the most accurate method of the three. This is because the parabolic

segments can mimic the original function more closely than rectangles or trapezoids.

Given f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 on the interval from x=1 to x=5, below is illustrated

the following 5 Riemann sums with 2 intervals: left, right, midpoint, upper, lower. In each case,

the appropriate rectangles are drawn.

Figure 1. Left Riemann Sum ("Riemann Sum.")

Figure 1 displays the left Riemann sum for the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5.

The height of the first rectangle is 13 units. The height of the second rectangle is 5 units.
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Figure 2. Right Riemann Sum ("Riemann Sum.")

Figure 2 displays the right Riemann sum for the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5.

The height of the first rectangle is 5 units. The height of the second rectangle is 29 units.

Figure 3. Midpoint Riemann Sum ("Riemann Sum.")

Figure 3 displays the midpoint Riemann sum for the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-

3)+5. The height of the first rectangle is 8 units. The height of the second rectangle is 4 units.

Figure 4. Upper Riemann Sum ("Riemann

Sum.")
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Figure 4 displays the upper Riemann sum for the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5.

The height of the first rectangle is 13 units. The height of the second rectangle is 29 units.

Figure 5. Lower Riemann Sum ("Riemann Sum.")

Figure 5 displays the lower Riemann sum for the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5.

The height of the first rectangle is 5 units. The height of the second rectangle is 3.12 units.

To find the area under the curve using Riemann sums, calculate the area of each rectangle

and then sum up all the areas.

Left Riemann Sum:

[f(1)(2)] + [f(3)(2)] = [(13)(2)] + [(5)(2)]


2
(26+10) = 36 units

Right Riemann Sum:

[f(3)(2)] + [f(5)(2)] = [(5)(2)] + [(29)(2)]


2
(10 + 58) = 68 units

Midpoint:

2[f(2)+f(4)] = 2[8+4]
2
2(12) = 24 units
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Upper Riemann Sum:

2[f(1) + f(5)] = 2[13 + 29]


2
2(42) = 84 units

Lower Riemann Sum:

2[f(3) + f(3.68)] = 2[5 + 3.12]


2
2(8.12) = 16.24 units

Figure 6. Area Calculations

Figure 6 illustrates the various calculations for finding the area. Figure 6 shows the area

calculations for the left, right, midpoint, upper, and lower Riemann sums.

The area of the same function, f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5, can also be approximated

using the Trapezoid Rule.

Figure 7. Trapezoidal Rule ("Trapezoidal)

Figure 7 shows a visual representation of how the Trapezoidal rule approximates area.

The image shows the Trapezoidal rule on the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 with 4

intervals.
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To approximate the area using the trapezoidal rule, find the area of each trapezoid, and

then add the areas together.

Area Using the Trapezoidal Rule:


1
Area = f(a) + 2f(b) + 2f(c) + f(last)](width)
2

1
2 [f(1) + 2*f(2) + 2*f(3) + 2*f(4) + f(5)]*1

1
= 2 [13+ 2*8 + 2*5 + 2*4 + 29]

1

2 [76]

2
= 38 units

Figure 8. Area Using Trapezoidal Rule

Figure 8 depicts the steps to calculating the area of f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 from

2
x=1 to x=5 using the Trapezoidal rule on 4 intervals. The area found was 38 units .

Lastly, the area of the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 can be approximated using

Simpsons Rule.
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Figure 9. Simpsons Rule ("Trapezoidal)

Figure 9 shows a visual representation of how Simpsons rule approximates area. The

image shows Simpsons rule on the function f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 with 4 intervals.

Area Using Simpsons Rule:

1
Area = 3 [f(x) + 4f(x1) + 2f(x2) + 4f(x3) + 2f(x4) + + f(last)]

1
= 3 [13 + 4*8 + 2*5 + 4*4 + 29]

1

3 [13 + 32 + 10 + 16 + 29]

1
= 3 [100]

2
= 33.33 units

Figure 10. Area Using Simpsons Rule

Figure 10 depicts the steps to approximate the area of f(x) = (x-3)4+2(x-3)3-4(x-3)+5 from

2
x=1 to x=5 using Simpsons rule on 4 intervals. The area found was 33.33 units .
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Of all the approximations, Simpsons rule was the most accurate because it had the least

difference between the approximation and the actual value. Below are the various area

calculations.
4 3
( x3) +2( x3) 4 ( x3)+ 5
5 2
Definite Integral: dx = 32.8 units
1

2
Left Riemann Sum: [f(1)(2)] + [f(3)(2)] = 36 units

2
Right Riemann Sum: [f(3)(2)] + [f(5)(2)] = 68 units

2
Midpoint Riemann Sum: 2[f(2)+f(4)] = 24 units

2
Upper Riemann Sum: 2[f(1) + f(5)] = 84 units

2
Lower Riemann Sum: 2[f(3) + f(3.68)] = 16.24 units

1 2
Trapezoidal Rule: 2 [f(1) + 2*f(2) + 2*f(3) + 2*f(4) + f(5)]*1 = 38 units

1 2
Simpsons Rule: = 3 [13 + 4*8 + 2*5 + 4*4 + 29] = 33.33 units

2
As a result, the Simpsons Rule approximation of 33.33 units was the closest to the

2
actual area of 32.8 units .
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Table 1
Approximations Compared to Definite Integral
Difference From
Approximations Area Found ( Definite Integral
units2 )
Definite Integral 32.80 0
Left Riemann Sum 36.00 3.2
Right Riemann Sum 68.00 35.2
Midpoint Riemann Sum 24.00 -8.8
Upper Riemann Sum 84.00 51.2
Lower Riemann Sum 16.24 -16.56
Trapezoidal Rule 38.00 5.2
Simpsons Rule 33.33 0.53
Table 1 shows how all the approximations relate to the definite integral. Of all the

approximations, Simpsons rule was the most accurate because it had the smallest difference

from the definite integral.

The Mean Value Theorem for integrals states that if y = f(x) is continuous on the closed

f ( x ) dx
interval [a,b], then there is at least one point x = c in [a,b] for which f(c) = a
ba

(Foerster, Paul).
4 3
Find the area under the curve f(x) = (x3) +2( x3) 4 ( x3)+ 5 using 2

intervals. Use the mean value theorem to find the height of each of the 2 rectangles.
3

[( x3)4 +2(x 3)3 4 (x3)+5]dx


f(c) = 1 = 8.2units
31

[( x3)4 +2(x 3)3 4 (x3)+5]dx


f(c) = 3 = 8.2units
53
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Figure 11. Height of Rectangles (Graphing)

Figure 11 displays the height of the two rectangles on the graph of f(x) =

(x3)4 +2(x3)3 4 (x3)+ 5 . The heights were both found to be 8.2units.

Area = f(c)(change in x) + f(c)(change in x)

= (8.2)(2) + (8.2)(2)
2
= 32.8 units

The area under a curve can be found various ways including using rectangles. By finding

the height and width of the rectangles under the curve, the area was found with ease.

The volume of a spherical hot air balloon expands as the air inside the balloon is heated.

The radius of the balloon, in feet, is modeled by a twice-differentiable function r of time t, where

t is measured in seconds. For 0<t<12, the graph is concave down. The table below gives selected

values of the rate of change, r(t), of the radius of the balloon over the time interval 0 t 12.
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The radius of the balloon is 32 feet when t = 7. (The volume of a sphere of radius r is given by

4
V= 3 r3.)
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Table 2
Rate of Change of Balloon Radius
t (seconds) 0 1 4 7 11 12

r(t) (ft/sec) 5.7 4.0 2.0 1.4 0.5 0.4


Table 2 shows the values for the rate of change of a balloons radius in relation to the

time.
a) Estimate the radius of the balloon when t = 7.2 using the tangent line approximation at t =

7. Is your estimate greater than or less than the true value? Give a reason for your answer.

r(t) = 1.4(x - 7) + 32

r(7.2) = 1.4(7.2 - 7) + 32

r(7.2) = 32.28 feet

Figure 12. Tangent Line Approximation

Figure 12 displays the steps to approximating the radius of the balloon when t = 7.2 using

the tangent line approximation. As stated in the above problem, at 7 seconds, the balloons radius

is 32 feet. By knowing this information, one can plug it into point-slope form. The y-intercept

will be the original radius of 32, the slope will be the rate of change at 7 seconds (1.4), and (x-7)

will calculate the change in x. Since the slopes in Table 1 are decreasing, the graph r(t) vs. t is

concave down.

b) Find the rate of change of the volume of the balloon with respect to time when t = 7. Indicate

the units of measure.

4
V= 3 r3

dV 4 dr
= 3 r 2
dt 3 dt

dV 2
dt = 4 32 *(1.4)
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3
dV ft
dt = 5,734.4 sec

c). Use a right Riemann sum with 5 subintervals indicated by the data in the table to

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approximate r ' ( t ) dt .
0

Figure 13. Riemann Sums for Data Table (Graphing)

Figure 13 shows rectangles created from the values in table 2. To approximate

12

r ' ( t ) dt , find the area of each rectangle and add them together.
0

12

r ' ( t ) dt = [(1)(4.0) + (3)(2.0) + (3)(1.4) + (4)(0.5) + (1)(0.4)] = 16.6 feet


0

12

r ' ( t ) dt is the change in the balloons radius measured in feet from the time interval
0

t=0 to t=12 seconds.


12

d.) Is your approximation in part c greater than or less than r ' ( t ) dt ? Give a reason.
0
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12

The approximation underestimates r ' ( t ) dt because the r(t) values provided in table
0

2 are decreasing, therefore they have a negative slope. If one takes a right Riemann sum of

something with a negative slope underestimates it.

Overall, whether it be a definite integral, Riemann sum, Trapezoidal rule, Simpsons rule,

or other approximate, there are countless ways to find the area under a curve. With this

knowledge in hand, one can solve math problems with ease and maybe even have some fun with

it!

Works Cited

Foerster, Paul A. Calculus: Concepts and Applications. Emeryville, CA: Key Curriculum, 2010.

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%28x-3%29%5E4%2B2%28x-3%29%5E3-4%28x-

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Mar. 2017. <https://www.emathhelp.net/calculators/calculus-2/trapezoidal-rule-

calculator/?f=%28x-3%29%5E4%2B2%28x-3%29%5E3-4%28x-

3%29%2B5&a=1&b=5&n=4&steps=on>.