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!

Homework Help: Using Mean Value Theorem

  1. Oct 10, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Use the mean value theorem to show that [itex] \frac{b^3-a^3}{b-a} = \sum_{j=1}^{n}d_j^2 (x_j - x_{j-1}) \text{where} x_{j-1} < d_j < x_j .[/itex]

    2. Relevant equations
    The mean value theorem states that if f is continuous on [a,b] and differentiable on (a,b) then there exists a c in (a,b) such that [itex]f(c) = \frac{f(b)-f(a)}{b-a} [/itex].

    3. The attempt at a solution I think I'm approaching this wrong, but I am trying to think of [itex] \sum_{j=1}^{n}d_j^2 (x_j - x_{j-1})[/itex] as the derivative of a function [itex] \sum_{j=1}^{n}\frac{d_j^3}{3} (x_j - x_{j-1})[/itex]. This way [itex]\frac{f(b)-f(a)}{b-a}[/itex] resembles [itex] \frac{b^3-a^3}{b-a}[/itex], but then it's unclear where the function is being evaluated at since you have several different d's. It seems clear that the d's are analogous to c in the MVT, but maybe I'm confused because there is a single c in the MVT and several d's.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Does it say anything about what the xjs are?
  4. Oct 11, 2013 #3
    The xj's are a partition of the interval [a,b]. Sorry I forgot to mention that.
  5. Oct 11, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I think you mean
    \frac{b^3-a^3}{3} = \sum_{j=1}^{n}d_j^2 (x_j - x_{j-1})
    (The question wants you to find a telescoping Riemann sum for [itex]\int_a^b x^2\,dx[/itex]).

    No, it states that under those conditions there exists [itex]c \in (a,b)[/itex] such that
    f'(c) = \frac{f(b)-f(a)}{b-a}

    You need to apply the MVT to [itex]f(x) = x^3[/itex] on the subinterval [itex][x_{j-1}, x_j][/itex].
  6. Oct 11, 2013 #5
    Sorry for the typos. I see how to use the MVT now. Not sure if I should post this is a new thread, but I'm now trying to use this result to prove that integral of f(x)=x^2 on [a,b] both exists and equals [itex]\frac{b^3-a^3}{3}[/itex].

    I know that for a quadratic, the point that satisfies the MVT is the midpoint of the interval, [itex]\hat{c_i} = \frac{x_j + x_{j-1}}{2}[/itex]. So to generalize for any point c in any partition we know that any point in [itex][x_{j-1}, x_j ][/itex] is at most [itex] \frac{||P||}{2} [/itex] units away from [itex]\hat{c_i}[/itex], where ||P|| is the norm of the partition. Call the actual distance from the midpoint [itex] \partial_j [/itex].

    So I want to show that [itex]\left| \sum_{j=1}^{n} \left(\frac{x_j + x_{j-1}}{2} + \partial_j\right)^3 (x_j - x_{j-1}) - \frac{b^3-a^3}{3} \right| < \epsilon[/itex] when [itex] ||P||< \delta[/itex]. I was hoping to bound the d's by ||P||/2 and use that to find a delta, but this sum turns out very messy and the terms don't cancel nicely like I'd hoped. Is this the right approach?
  7. Oct 11, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    That is not the right approach.

    It is enough if you can find a Riemann sum whose value is independent of the norm of the partition. Then the function is integrable and its integral is the value of that sum. The MVT allows you to do that.

    Thus, by the MVT applied to [itex]x^3[/itex] on [itex][x_{j-1},x_j][/itex] there exists [itex]z_j \in [x_{j-1},x_j][/itex] such that
    [tex]3z_j^2 = \frac{x_j^3 - x_{j-1}^3}{x_j - x_{j-1}}.[/tex]
    Hence, after multiplying by [itex](x_j - x_{j-1})/3[/itex] and summing over j,
    \sum_{j=1}^n z_j^2 (x_j - x_{j-1}) = \frac13 \sum_{j=1}^n (x_j^3 - x_{j-1}^3)
    The sum on the right can now be evaluated.
  8. Oct 12, 2013 #7
    The MVT only says that there exists a [itex]z_j[/itex] such that [itex]\sum_{j=1}^n z_j^2 (x_j - x_{j-1}) = \frac13 \sum_{j=1}^n (x_j^3 - x_{j-1}^3)[/itex], but not that this is necessarily true of any point in the interval.

    We were shown a similar example where [itex]f(x) = x[/itex] and we chose to evaluate the Riemann sum at the midpoint of the interval [itex]c_j = \frac{x_{j-1}+ x_j}{2}[/itex] so it turned out to be that [itex] \sigma = \frac12 \sum_{j=1}^n (x_{j-1}+ x_j) (x_j - x_{j-1}) = \frac12 (b-a)[/itex], which does not appear to depend on ||P||, but we were told then that we had to show that this answer was independent of the choice of [itex]c_j[/itex], which we did by bounding the distance of any point in the interval [itex](x_{j-1}, x_j)[/itex] from the midpoint by ||P||/2.

    I am curious why this last step is not necessary with the [itex]f(x) = x^2[/itex] problem because it seems like using the MVT to find the sum at a certain point is similar to evaluating the sum at the midpoint.
  9. Oct 12, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I appear to have been implicitly assuming that you have already proven that [itex]x^2[/itex] is integrable by some other means.

    I think what you want to do to show that the sum is independent of the choice of point in each subinterval is to show that for all [itex]\epsilon > 0[/itex] there exists [itex]\delta > 0[/itex] such that if [itex]\|P\| < \delta[/itex] then
    \left| \sum_{j} (z_j + \eta_j)^2(x_j - x_{j-1}) - \frac{b^3 - a^3}3 \right| < \epsilon
    where [itex]|\eta_j| < \frac12(x_j - x_{j-1})[/itex] and [itex]z_j[/itex] is given by the MVT.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted