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Lucas Serraiocco
Mr. Acre
Ap Calculus
23 March 2015
Riemann Sums
The integral is one of the fundamental concepts of calculus. One of its main
applications is finding the area under a curve. There are multiple methods to accomplish
this and they include Riemann sums, the Trapezoid rule, and Simpsons rule.
Riemann Sums
The first of these methods that will be discussed is Riemann sums. This is

defined formally as the sum of the form

f ( x ) dx

represents the area of a rectangle of altitude

f (x)

in which each term of the sum

and base dx . In other words, a

certain number of rectangles will be created under a curve and their areas will be added
together in order to calculate the integral. The height of these rectangles is the y value
of the function and the base is the change in x. In order to get a more accurate
calculation, one should make the change in x smaller. If this value becomes infinitely
small, then the Riemann Sum will actually equal the definite integral. The change in x
value will vary however as it is dependent on the number of subintervals as well as the
length of these intervals within the bounds of integration (denoted n). In order to obtain

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the change in x value, the desired area within the bounds of integration will be divided
by the total number of subintervals. Since not every problem is the same, the changing
x value will fluctuate. This leads one to pick a uniform position on each rectangle, these
being left, right, middle, lower, and upper. This is attributed to the height of the
rectangles being some f(x) value. In conclusion, there are 5 types of Riemann sums.
First, a left Riemann Sum uses the left most bound x value in order to find f(x).
This x value can also be the right most point as well as the midpoint. Lower Riemann
sums will provide the absolute minimum estimation of the area and are therefore not too
accurate. That being said, this process will always underestimate the definite integral.
Finally, upper Riemann sums work in the complete opposite way. The highest f(x) value
will be used for the height of the rectangle which will provide the max estimation
possible. This means that upper Riemann sum will always overestimate the area and
thus, the definite integral. Examples of each method will be discussed later. The general
equation for Riemann sums is shown below.
Rn= x f ( x 1 ) + x f ( x 2 ) + x f ( x 3 ) +

As stated above, the change in x value is the base of the rectangles while the
height is determined by f(x).
Trapezoid Rule
The second method to calculate area under a curve is the Trapezoid rule.
This method focuses on the use of trapezoids instead of rectangles. The change in x
value now becomes the height of each trapezoid while the base is the left and right

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bounds of the interval. The difference between the x values of the upper and lower
bounds will produce the change in x value. This will remain constant between each
interval. It should be noted that when using the trapezoid rule, an overestimation of the
definite integral can occur if the graph is concave up while an underestimation happens
if the graph is concave down.
The general equation is shown below.

T n= x

f ( x 1 ) +f ( x 2 )
f ( x2 ) + f ( x 3)
f ( x3 )+ f ( x4 )
+ x
+ x
+
2
2
2

) (

) (

An example of the Trapezoid rule is shown below.

Figure 1. Example of the Trapezoid Rule


Figure 1 shows the Trapezoid rule being used to estimate the area between
the interval [a,b]. The change in x value will remain constant across each trapezoid.
Simpsons Rule

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The final method is Simpsons rule. This process uses parabolas to estimate
area under a curve as opposed to rectangles and trapezoids. This gives Simpsons rule
the unique trait of analyzing a curved graph. However, this method also uses intervals
from a to b. In order to perform Simpsons rule some prerequisites must be met. There
must be an even number of intervals which corresponds with an odd number of data
points. The first and last f(x) values denoted as a and b respectively are multiple by one.
The f(x) value created by the first subinterval is multiplied by four, and the next is
multiplied by two. This process will alternate and repeat until the last value is reached.
The general formula is shown below as well as an example.
1
Area= ( x )f ( x0 ) + 4 f ( x1 ) +2 f ( x 2 ) + 4 f ( x 3 ) +...+2 f ( x n2 ) +4 f ( x n1 ) +f ( x n )
3

Figure 2. Example of Simpsons Rule

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The figure above shows how there is an odd number of data points and an even
number of intervals. The thin line represents the original function while the darker line is
that of Simpsons rule.

Comparison between Methods


All three of these methods are useful for approximating the definite integral. Each
process separates the graph into intervals and uses an assortment of shapes to
calculate the area of each interval. These shapes include rectangles, trapezoids, and
parabolas for Riemann sums, trapezoid rule, and Simpsons rule respectively. The
methods start to differ in their accuracy and interval requirements. Riemann sums and
Trapezoid rule can be used for any number of subintervals while Simpsons rule
requires an even number. When determining accuracy, Riemann sums is the least
accurate, followed by Trapezoid rule, and leaving Simpsons rule to be the most
accurate. This is reasonable because Riemann sums only account for one f(x) value.
The problem of not paying attention to a fluctuating interval then arises. Trapezoid rule
remedies this slightly by taking into account two f(x) values instead of one. Finally,
Simpsons rule not only takes into account a fluctuating interval, but the concavity as
well due to the parabolic nature. However, it should be noted that there is a direct
relationship between accuracy and subintervals (n) across all three methods. As the n
value increases so will the accuracy.
Riemann Sums examples

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In order to demonstrate the 5 variations of Riemann sums, the definite integral
of the function f(x) = (x-3)4 + 2(x-3)3 - 4(x-3) + 5 will be calculated between the integral
[1,5]. There will be two subintervals which allow the change in x value to equal 2.

Left Riemann Sum:

Figure 3. Left Riemann Sum


Figure 3 shows the left Riemann sum within the desired interval. The calculation is

below:

R2= xf ( x 1 ) + xf ( x 2 )

R2=36 square units

R2= xf ( 1 ) + xf ( 3 )

R2=213+25

R2=26+ 10

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Right Riemann Sum

Figure 4. Right Riemann Sum


Figure 4 shows the right Riemann sum within the desired interval. The calculation is
below:
R2= xf ( x 1 ) + xf ( x 2 )

R2= xf ( 3 )+ xf ( 5 )

R2=25+229

R2=68 square units

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Midpoint Riemann Sum

Figure 5. Midpoint Riemann Sum


Figure 5 shows the midpoint Riemann sum within the desired interval. The
calculation is below.
R2= xf ( x 1 ) + xf ( x 2 )

Lower Riemann Sum

R2= xf ( 2 ) + xf ( 4 )

R2=28+24

R2=24 square units

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Figure 6. Lower Riemann Sum


Figure 6 shows the lower Riemann su within the desired interval. The calculation
is shown below.
R2= xf ( x 1 ) + xf ( x 2 )

R2 16.25 square units

Upper Riemann Sum

R2= xf ( 3 )+ xf ( 3.6777 )

R2=25+23.1226

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Figure 7. Upper Riemann Sum


Figure 7 shows the upper Riemann sum within the desired interval, The calculation is
shown below.
R2= xf ( x 1 ) + xf ( x 2 )

R2= xf ( 1 ) + xf ( 5 )

R2=213+229

R2=84 square units

Trap Rule Comparison


In order to obtain a comparison between Riemann Sums and Trapezoid rule,
the same function will have its area estimated using trapezoids. The difference occurs at

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the number of subintervals. For this example, the trapezoid approximation will have four
intervals compared to the 2 that the Riemann sum had. This will yield a change in x
value of 1 instead of 2. The graph of this situation as well as the calculations is shown
below.

Figure 8. Trap Rule Comparison

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f x 1 ) + f ( x2 )
f ( x 2 ) +f ( x 3 )
f ( x3 )+ f ( x4 )
f ( x4)+ f ( x5 )
+ x
+ x
+ x
2
2
2
2

T 4= x

((

T 4= x

( f ( 1) +2 f ( 2) )+ x ( f ( 2) +f2 ( 3) )+ x( f ( 3)+2f ( 4 ) )+ x ( f ( 4) +2 f (5 ) )

T 4=1

) (

) (

8+5
5+ 4
4+29
+1
+1
+1
( 13+8
2 ) ( 2 ) ( 2 ) ( 2 )

T 4=10.5+6.5+ 4.5+16.5

) (

T 4=1

( 212 )+1( 132 )+1( 92 )+ 1( 332 )

T 4=38 squareunits

When looking at all four of the trapezoids, three of them overestimate the definite
integral. It should be noted that the second trapezoid just barely underestimates. This
occurs because of the changing concavity within the interval [1,5]. Despite the
overestimation, the trapezoid rule is still more accurate than that of Riemann Sums.
Also, the fact that the trapezoid rule had a larger n value allows for a more accurate
calculation.
Mean Value Theorem
There is another method that can be used to calculate the definite integral.
This process is called the Mean Value Theorem (MVT), and can be used in select
scenarios. This theorem states that if a graph is continuous on the closed interval from a
to b, then there exists some number, c, in the interval a to b such that:

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b

1
f ( c )=
f ( x ) dx .
ba a

In other words, the area calculated by the definite integral will be equal to the
rectangles area calculated by multiplying f(c) and the difference between the upper and
lower bounds ( x . Using this theorem to calculate the area for the previously stated
function between the interval [1,5] can be accomplished by creating two subintervals,
these being [1,3] and [3,5]. First, the c value, which is the value that produces the
required f(x) must be found for each interval. The calculation for the first interval is
shown below, denoted by c1 (from 1 to 3).
3

1
f ( c1 ) =
( ( x3 )4 +2 ( x3 )34 ( x3 ) +5 ) dx

31 1

) (

f ( c1 ) =

1 ( x3 ) ( x3 )
+
2 ( x3 )2+ 5 x
2
5
2

1 ( 33 ) ( 33 )
1 ( 13 ) (13 )
2
2
f ( c1 ) =
+
2 ( 33 ) +53
+
2 ( 13 ) +51
2
5
2
2
5
2

1
f ( c1 ) = (( 15 )(1.4))
2

f ( c1 ) =8.2

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The second interval calculation is shown below, denoted by c 2 (from 3 to 5).


5

1 ( x3 ) ( x3 )
+
2 ( x 3 )2+ 5 x
2
5
2

f ( c2 ) =

1
( ( x3 )4 +2 ( x3 )34 ( x3 ) +5 ) dx
31 3

f ( c2 ) =

1 ( 53 ) ( 53 )
1 ( 33 ) ( 33 )
2
2
+
2 ( 53 ) +55
+
2 ( 33 ) +53
2
5
2
2
5
2

) (

1
f ( c2 ) = ( ( 31.4 ) (15 ) )
2

f ( c2 ) =

f ( c2 ) =8.2

The graph below shows the function as well as the two rectangles that were
used to calculate the definite integral.

Figure 9. Mean Value Theorem Example


Using the MVT, the area of the definite integral can be calculated using the
previously found c values.

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A= x( f ( c 1 ) +f ( c2 ) )

A= (2 )( 8.2+8.2 )

A=216.4

A=32.8 square units

This means that the actual area under the curve is 32.8 square units. When all
methods were considered, the left Riemann sum actually produced a more accurate
answer than that of Trapezoid rule. This can be attributed to the curvature of the
function which allowed the left approximation to overestimate and then underestimate.

Problem: 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 . The radius of the balloon is 32 feet
when t=7. (The volume of sphere of radius r is given by

t (seconds)
r(t) (ft/sec)

0
5.7

1
4.0

4
2.0

7
1.4

4
V = r3
.)
3

11 12
0.5 0.4

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.
b) Find the rate of change of the value of the balloon with respect to time when t=7.
Indicate the units of measure.
c) Use a right Riemann Sum with 5 subintervals indicated by the data in the table to
12

approximate

12

r ( t ) dt
'

. Using correct units, explain the meaning of

r ' ( t ) dt
0

in terms of the radius of the balloon.


12

d) Is your approximation in part c greater or less than

r ' ( t ) dt
0

? Give a reason.

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Solution:
y32=1.4 ( x7 )

a) A:

y32=1.4 ( 7.27 )
y=0.28+ 32
y=32.28 feet

This was accomplished by using r(7) and estimating how much the radius
changed. The slopes in this case are positive but decreasing which means that the
graph of r(t) will be concave down. This means that the method would overestimate the
true radius.

B:

4
V = r3
3
dV 4
r 2dr
= 3
dt 3
dt
dV
r 2dr
=4
dt
dt
dV
2
=4 ( 32 ) ( 1.4 )
dt
dV
=18015.15 cubic feet per minute
dt

In order to solve this, the derivative of the volume equation was taken and
simplified. The known values were then plugged in. This yielded an answer of 18015.15
cubic feet per minute which is the expanding rate of the balloon.

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C:

R5= x r ' ( t 1 ) + x r ' ( t 2 ) + x r ' ( t 3 ) + x r ' ( t 4 )+ x r ' ( t 5 )

12

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


0

12

r ' ( t ) dt=16.6 feet


0

The 5 intervals are created by the 6 pairs of points from the table. Since a
right Riemann sum is being used here, the change in x can be calculated by subtracting
the left point, which has a lower t value, from the right point, which has a higher t value.
Then each change in x value was multiplied by its corresponding r(t) value. This
calculates the change of the radius in feet from when t=0 until t=12 minutes.
D: The approximation is less than the actual value of the definite integral. This can be
attributed to the fact that the graph is concave down and the interval provides a
negative slope. When the right bound value is taken, all rectangles fall under the curve
which causes an underestimate.
In todays world, people are always looking for the most efficient ways to
accomplish things. This idea resonates with the evolving methods of calculating the

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area under a curve. The human drive to develop new and improved processes span
over all aspects of life.

Works Cited
"Mathwords: Simpson's Rule." Mathwords: Simpson's Rule. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar.
2013.
"Mathwords: Trapezoid Rule." Mathwords: Trapezoid Rule. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar.
2013.
Graphing Calculator." Graphing Calculator- Free Online Tool Graph Functions, Finds
Intersections, Table of Values. Implicit Equations, Pan, Zoom, & Export as
Image.Meta-Calculator, 2010.Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
"Riemann Sums." Desmos Graphing Calculator. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
<https://www.desmos.com/calculator/mlqrvcicgh>.