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!

What exactly is dx in an integral

  1. Feb 28, 2014 #1
    I'm doing integration by parts and I am a bit confused as to what exactly dx is. Usually when integrating it is just dropped or forgotten about. Now when doing integration by parts there are some problems where you pick x as your u and dx as your du. since du is the derivative of u why isn't the du of x just 1 like we were always taught? Why is it now dx?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Mostly it indicates the variable with respect to which you're integrating. It also is suggestive of the Δx in a Riemann sum.
    That's not a good thing to do. dx doesn't play much of a role for very simple integrals such as substitutions. However, in integration by parts of trig substitutions, if you omit it, you will run into problems.
    No, du is the differential of u. That's not the same as the derivative.
    I doubt that's what you were taught. "du of x" makes no sense.
    The derivative, with respect to x, of x is 1. In symbols, ##\frac{d}{dx}x = 1##, but the differential of x is dx.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted