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Homework Help: Integrals question

  1. Jul 16, 2010 #1
    I am just seeking some clarification.

    Can one tell me the difference between right and left endpoints when drawing a function and estimating its area with these endpoints? And how are they connected to underestimation and overestimation?

    If you can draw graphs and point out which ones are over/underestimated, and which have left/right endpoints, it will be very helpful.

    Thanks a lot.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2010 #2
    The left endpoint is on the left.

    Draw a strait line to the right endpoint. What do see?
  4. Jul 16, 2010 #3


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    You are given a function f(x) on an interval [a,b]. To estimate the value of

    [tex]\int_a^b f(x)\ dx[/tex]

    you make a partition of the interval:

    [tex]a = x_0 < x_1, ... ,< x_n = b[/tex]

    and pick points ci in [xi-1,xi] for i = 1..n. You then approximate the integral with rectangles of height f(ci) on each subinterval:

    [tex]\sum_{i=1}^n f(c_i)\Delta x_i[/tex]

    If you pick the ci on the left of its subinterval [xi-1,xi] then ci=xi-1 and if you pick it on the right of its subinterval, then ci = xi.

    If f is an increasing function its value will increase as x moves to the right. Using the left end point and drawing the approximating rectangle, you can see that the rectangles always underestimate the area under the curve, but if f is decreasing, just the opposite happens and the area of the rectangle overestimates the area under the curve.

    Surely your text has pictures of this.
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