How to calculate areas under a function graph.
The definite integral can
be used to find the area between a graph curve and the ‘x’ axis, between two
given ‘x’ values. This area is called the ‘area under the curve’
regardless of whether it is above or below the ‘x’ axis.
When the curve is above the ‘x’ axis, the area is the same as the definite integral ...
but when the graph line is below the ‘x’ axis, the definite integral is negative. The area is then given by:
Sometimes part of the graph
is above the ‘x’ axis and part is below, then it is necessary to calculate
several integrals. When the area of each part is found, the total area can be
found by adding the parts.
Â For example, to find the area between the graph of: y = x² - x - 2 and the ‘x’ axis, from x = -2 to x = 3, we need to calculate three separate integrals:
The zeros of the function
f(x) that lie between -2 and 3 form the
boundaries of the separate area segments.
In this case there are zeros at x = -1 and x = 2, (see graph above) and so three separate areas must be found: A1, A2 and A3 as follows:
So the total shaded area between the function and the graph from x = -2 to x = 3 is given by:
Maths Helper Plus can graph the function, locate the zeros and calculate the definite integrals. Follow the steps below to find the area under a curve as described in the example above.
To explain how to use Maths Helper Plus to calculate between a function graph and the 'x' axis, we will use the function:
We will calculate the area between the curve and the 'x' axis from x = -2 to x = 3.
Step 1Â Start with an empty Maths Helper Plus document
If you have just launched the software then you already have an empty document, otherwise hold down ‘Ctrl’ while you briefly press the ‘N’ key.
Step 2Â Graph your function
For more help on entering functions, see the 'Easy Start' tutorial in the Maths Helper Plus 'help'. To access the tutorial, click 'Help' on the Maths Helper Plus menu bar, then select: 'Tutorial...'
If the graph of the function does not appear, you need to adjust the
For more help on setting graph scales, click 'Help' on the Maths Helper Plus menu bar, then select 'Index'. Click the button at the top left corner of the help screen. Click 'Training', then 'Essential skills', then 'Graph scale magic'.Â
Step 3Â Locate zeros on the graph
If the graph crosses the 'x' axis between the limits x = a and x = b where we are calculating areas, then we have to calculate separate areas and add them.
the example: We want to find the area under the curve between x = -2 and x =
3. The curve crosses the ‘x’ axis between these ‘x’ values, so we use
the ‘intersection tool’ to locate the zeros.
Â Â toolbar
button to select the intersection tool. Now click the mouse cursor on the points
where the graph cuts the ‘x’ axis.
In each case, read and record the ‘x’ coordinate of the intersection point from the dialog box.
The example function has zeros at:Â x = -1Â andÂ x = 2
Cancel the intersection tool by clicking the 'Cancel' button in the dialog box.
Step 4Â Identify the integral boundaries
The areas will be calculated by finding definite integrals. Identify the number of integrals that need to be found. Write down the boundary ‘x’ values for each of these integrals.
the example, there are three integrals to be found:
1: from -2Â to -1.Â
2: fromÂ -1 toÂ 2.Â
3: fromÂ 2Â toÂ 3.Â
Step 5Â Calculate the definite integrals
The areas will be calculated by finding definite integrals. Identify the number of integrals that need to be found.
Carefully point to the function curve with the mouse pointer then double click with the mouse to display the options dialog for the function. (This works better on not-so-steep parts of the graph.) Select the ‘Integrals’ tab:
on the ‘Limits of integration’
edit box. Type the integral boundaries you calculated in step 4 above, using
square brackets for each separate integral, like this: [-2,-1] [-1,2] [2,3]
on the ‘Number of intervals’
edit box. Type : 100. (The larger this number the greater the accuracy, but if
it is too big the calculations may be slow. This must be an even number to use
‘Shade areas on graph’. Also
select ‘Simpson’s rule’.
‘Calculation mode’ should be
the ‘OK’ button to close the dialog box. The areas will be shaded on
the graph, and the integrals will be displayed on the text view.
Step 4Â Read the integral values from the table and calculate the required area
The text view displays the table of calculated integrals. This is how the table looks for the example:
the absolute value (take each number as positive) of the definite integrals to calculate the total
required area. Thus
for the example, the total area is:
Thus for the example, the total area is: