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  • Determine the length of a curve, y = f ( x ) , between two points.
  • Determine the length of a curve, x = g ( y ) , between two points.
  • Find the surface area of a solid of revolution.

In this section, we use definite integrals to find the arc length of a curve. We can think of arc length    as the distance you would travel if you were walking along the path of the curve. Many real-world applications involve arc length. If a rocket is launched along a parabolic path, we might want to know how far the rocket travels. Or, if a curve on a map represents a road, we might want to know how far we have to drive to reach our destination.

We begin by calculating the arc length of curves defined as functions of x , then we examine the same process for curves defined as functions of y . (The process is identical, with the roles of x and y reversed.) The techniques we use to find arc length can be extended to find the surface area of a surface of revolution, and we close the section with an examination of this concept.

Arc length of the curve y = f ( x )

In previous applications of integration, we required the function f ( x ) to be integrable, or at most continuous. However, for calculating arc length we have a more stringent requirement for f ( x ) . Here, we require f ( x ) to be differentiable, and furthermore we require its derivative, f ( x ) , to be continuous. Functions like this, which have continuous derivatives, are called smooth . (This property comes up again in later chapters.)

Let f ( x ) be a smooth function defined over [ a , b ] . We want to calculate the length of the curve from the point ( a , f ( a ) ) to the point ( b , f ( b ) ) . We start by using line segments to approximate the length of the curve. For i = 0 , 1 , 2 ,… , n , let P = { x i } be a regular partition of [ a , b ] . Then, for i = 1 , 2 ,… , n , construct a line segment from the point ( x i 1 , f ( x i 1 ) ) to the point ( x i , f ( x i ) ) . Although it might seem logical to use either horizontal or vertical line segments, we want our line segments to approximate the curve as closely as possible. [link] depicts this construct for n = 5 .

This figure is a graph in the first quadrant. The curve increases and decreases. It is divided into parts at the points a=xsub0, xsub1, xsub2, xsub3, xsub4, and xsub5=b. Also, there are line segments between the points on the curve.
We can approximate the length of a curve by adding line segments.

To help us find the length of each line segment, we look at the change in vertical distance as well as the change in horizontal distance over each interval. Because we have used a regular partition, the change in horizontal distance over each interval is given by Δ x . The change in vertical distance varies from interval to interval, though, so we use Δ y i = f ( x i ) f ( x i 1 ) to represent the change in vertical distance over the interval [ x i 1 , x i ] , as shown in [link] . Note that some (or all) Δ y i may be negative.

This figure is a graph. It is a curve above the x-axis beginning at the point f(xsubi-1). The curve ends in the first quadrant at the point f(xsubi). Between the two points on the curve is a line segment. A right triangle is formed with this line segment as the hypotenuse, a horizontal segment with length delta x, and a vertical line segment with length delta y.
A representative line segment approximates the curve over the interval [ x i 1 , x i ] .

By the Pythagorean theorem, the length of the line segment is ( Δ x ) 2 + ( Δ y i ) 2 . We can also write this as Δ x 1 + ( ( Δ y i ) / ( Δ x ) ) 2 . Now, by the Mean Value Theorem, there is a point x i * [ x i 1 , x i ] such that f ( x i * ) = ( Δ y i ) / ( Δ x ) . Then the length of the line segment is given by Δ x 1 + [ f ( x i * ) ] 2 . Adding up the lengths of all the line segments, we get

Arc Length i = 1 n 1 + [ f ( x i * ) ] 2 Δ x .

This is a Riemann sum. Taking the limit as n , we have

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
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are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
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where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
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Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Leaves accumulate on the forest floor at a rate of 2 g/cm2/yr and also decompose at a rate of 90% per year. Write a differential equation governing the number of grams of leaf litter per square centimeter of forest floor, assuming at time 0 there is no leaf litter on the ground. Does this amount approach a steady value? What is that value?
Abdul Reply
You have a cup of coffee at temperature 70°C, which you let cool 10 minutes before you pour in the same amount of milk at 1°C as in the preceding problem. How does the temperature compare to the previous cup after 10 minutes?
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, Calculus volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Feb 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11965/1.2
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