Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Untitled Page 20

  • Page ID
  • 4.2 The fundamental theorem of calculus

    The fundamental theorem of calculus

    Let x be an indefinite integral of x·, and let x· be a continuous function (one whose graph is a single connected curve). Then


    The fundamental theorem is proved on page 154. The idea it expresses is that integration and differentiation are inverse operations. That is, integration undoes differentiation, and differentiation undoes integration.

    Example 4

    ◊ Interpret the definite integral
    graphically; then evaluate it it both symbolically and numerically, and check that the two results are consistent.


    d / The definite integral \int12 (1/t)dt.

    ◊ Figure d shows the graphical interpretation. The numerical calculation requires a trivial variation on the program from example 51:

      a := 1;
      b := 2;
      H := 1000;
      dt := (b-a)/H;
      sum := 0;
      t := a;
      While (t<=b) [
        sum := N(sum+(1/t)*dt);
        t := N(t+dt);

    The result is 0.693897243, and increasing H to 10,000 gives 0.6932221811, so we can be fairly confident that the result equals 0.693, to 3 decimal places.

    Symbolically, the indefinite integral is x=ln t. Using the fundamental theorem of calculus, the area is ln 2-ln 1≈ 0.693147180559945.

    Judging from the graph, it looks plausible that the shaded area is about 0.7.

    This is an interesting example, because the natural log blows up to negative infinity as t approaches 0, so it's not possible to add a constant onto the indefinite integral and force it to be equal to 0 at t=0. Nevertheless, the fundamental theorem of calculus still works.