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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

    Mark44

    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.
     
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