1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Finding velocity and position from an acceleration vs time graph

  1. Sep 23, 2013 #1

    Kot

    User Avatar

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    The graph of acceleration versus time for an object in linear motion. Assuming the object starts from rest at the origin at t = 0, find the velocity and position of the object at times t = 1 through 10 seconds.

    Rl4jtgs.jpg

    2. Relevant equations
    ##v=v_i + at##


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I searched online and found that the velocity is the area under the acceleration vs time graph, which is the integral of the acceleration vs time graph. Since the acceleration function wasn't given to me, I found the equation of the first part of the graph from (0 seconds to 2 seconds) by using basic algebra. I found that the line was ##y=\dfrac{5}{2}x##. Would it be correct to take the integral of ##y=\dfrac{5}{2}x## since it would give me the area under the curve? I took the integral with the limit from 0 to 2 and got 5m/s. The distance traveled from 0 seconds to 2 seconds is 10m (I found this by using s=d/t). Is this the correct approach to solving this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2013 #2

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    You ARE given the acceleration vs time graph!
    You could use your approach of writing the equation for each segment of the given graph and integrate it. If you do this, make your initial equation a = (a function of time).

    The usual approach is to find the area under the acceleration graph from time zero to time 1, then zero to time 2, etc. and mark these velocity points on another graph for v vs t. This is integration by hand and it may well be faster for this problem.

    Once you have the v vs t graph, you know what to do to get x vs t.
     
  4. Sep 23, 2013 #3

    Kot

    User Avatar

    I have all the velocity and position for the time intervals but now I am having trouble plotting it on a v vs t graph. From 0 to 2, the velocity is 5m/s, from 2 to 5 the velocity is 10m/s, from 5 to 6 the velocity is 4m/s, from 6 to 9 the velocity is 9m/s, and from 9 to 10 the velocity is 1.5m/s. Is the velocity graph supposed to have horizontal lines like the acceleration vs time graph or jagged edges connecting the different velocities?
     
  5. Sep 23, 2013 #4

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Oh, I think it is more complicated than that! If the velocity was constant for the first two seconds, its derivative (the acceleration) would be zero. But it isn't, the given graph shows the acceleration is nonzero and rapidly increasing. If you want help sorting it out, show some details of how you find the velocity at time 1 second.
     
  6. Sep 23, 2013 #5

    Kot

    User Avatar

    I am not sure what you mean at 1 second (do you mean from 0s to 1s?). I found the velocity from 0s to 2s by taking the integral of ##y=\dfrac{5}{2}x## with 0 as the lower bound and 2 as the upper bound. I got 5 which is the area under the curve so I thought that the velocity was 5m/s.
     
  7. Sep 23, 2013 #6

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I agree with 5 m/s at time 2 seconds. I think it might help avoid a misunderstanding if I suggest your y = 5/2x should actually be a = 5/2t, then after integrating v = 1.25t².

    At time 1 second, you must find the area under the graph from 0 to 1 s. The brute force way is to note that it is a right triangle with base 1 s and height 2.5 m/s². A = 0.5*b*h = 0.5*1*2.5 = 1.25 m/s.
    Or your way, v = 1.25t² = 1.25(1)² = 1.25 m/s.
    This gives you two points on the velocity vs time graph. You could carry on this way but I think you will prefer to integrate again to get a function for x = (a function of time).
     
  8. Sep 23, 2013 #7

    Kot

    User Avatar

    If I integrated the velocity function again I would get the displacement? I am still unsure how I would plot and connect the points on the velocity vs time graph.
     
  9. Sep 23, 2013 #8

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Yes, you can just integrate again to get displacement (x). Remember the a = 5/2t, v = 1.25t² are only good for the first two seconds. The acceleration function changes completely at time 2 seconds.
     
  10. Sep 23, 2013 #9

    Kot

    User Avatar

    Yes I am working on the rest at the moment. After I get all velocity and positions, how would I graph the data in a velocity vs time graph? I can plot the points but how will I connect them?

    *edit I am working on the second part of the graph where acceleration is constant. I integrated the function a=5, and got v=5t. I plugged 3s into t and found that the velocity is 15m/s at 3 seconds. I know that the velocity is 5m/s at 2 seconds, where did the extra 10m/s come from? Did I miscalculate something?
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  11. Sep 23, 2013 #10

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Ah, you must use your knowledge of functions. The 0 to 2 s interval is x = 0.416*t³ so you sketch a curve that resembles a cubic function.

    Lots of work, isn't it? For the second interval you will have to add a constant after integrating to make the displacement at time 2 the same as you got for time 2 from the x = 0.416*t³. I'm trying to work it by both methods and so far the answers aren't agreeing, so I've got a mistake!
     
  12. Sep 23, 2013 #11

    Kot

    User Avatar

    Would that constant be 1? Since I evaluated the function at t=3, subtracting a 1 would give me t=2.
     
  13. Sep 23, 2013 #12

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I didn't get that, but maybe its my mistake. What is your function for velocity in the 2 to 5 s interval?
     
  14. Sep 23, 2013 #13

    Kot

    User Avatar

    My function for velocity from 2 to 5 is v=5t. I integrated the function a=5.
     
  15. Sep 23, 2013 #14

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Okay, so the whole thing is v = 5t + C
    and v at time 2 is known to be 5
    Find C.
     
  16. Sep 23, 2013 #15

    Kot

    User Avatar

    I got -5 for C and the answer makes sense now. I am confused as to why you needed to do this, will I need to find C for the other intervals? Could you please explain where this displacement came from?
     
  17. Sep 23, 2013 #16

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Right, and the v = 5t -5 will become x = 2.5t² -5t + C when you integrate again to get x. My mistake was forgetting that -5t!

    And so on; yes another C at each integration in each interval.
     
  18. Sep 23, 2013 #17

    Kot

    User Avatar

    I feel like I am beating a dead horse but I still do not understand why it is necessary to have the constant, what is causing the displacement?
     
  19. Sep 23, 2013 #18

    Delphi51

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Well, you always get a +C when you integrate. It is mathematically because f(t) + C has the same derivative as f(t). Physically, if you just used v = 5t then it wouldn't fit the problem: according to our formulas for the previous interval up to time 2, v = 5 at time 2. You need C = -5 to make v = 5t + C = 5 at time 2. Of the many functions whose derivative is a = 5, the v = 5t - 5 is the only one that fits the distance at the left boundary of the interval.

    I have x = 3.33 at time 2, x = 40.83 at time 5 and x = 63 at time 6. These checked with the other method of counting squares under the graph to get the area.
    I'm glad I don't have to finish the whole thing!
     
  20. Sep 23, 2013 #19

    Kot

    User Avatar

    Thanks for the alternative explanation, I will try to do the rest of the graph now.
     
  21. Sep 24, 2013 #20

    Kot

    User Avatar

    I finished calculating the velocities for t=1 to t=10. Everything seems to make sense until I reach the last interval t=9 to t=10. Here are my velocities at each t:
    t=1s v=1.25m/s,
    t=2s v=5m/s,
    t=3s v=10m/s
    t=4s v=15m/s
    t=5s v=20m/s
    t=6s v=24m/s
    t=7s v=27m/s
    t=8s v=30m/s
    t=9s v=33m/s
    t=10s v=34.5m/s

    Looking at the graph, I see that the acceleration is rapidly slowing down but my calculations say that the velocities are still increasing. I integrated the function a=-3t+30 (the equation representing the line at that interval). After integrating the acceleration I got ##v=-\dfrac{3}{2}t^2 +30t + C## I then used what you taught me to find the C and got ##v=-\dfrac{3}{2}t^2 +30t - \dfrac{231}{2}##. I then plugged in 9s and got 33m/s which checked with my previous interval but 10s gives me 34.5m/s. Is this correct or did I go wrong somewhere in my calculation?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted