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Some definite integrals, the first two of which are due to Bailey and Plouffe (1997) and the

third of which
is due to Guénard and Lemberg (2001), which were identified by Borwein and Bailey (2003, p. 61) and
Bailey et al. (2007, p. 62) to be "technically correct" but "not useful" as computed byMathematica are
reproduced below. Happily, Mathematica Version 5 returns them in the same simple form given by
Borwein and Bailey without even the need for additional simplification:




(OEIS A091474, A091475, and A091476), where is Catalan's constant. A fourth integral proposed by a
challenge is also trivially computable inMathematica,



(OEIS A091477), where is Apéry's constant.

A pretty definite integral due to L. Glasser and O. Oloa (L. Glasser, pers. comm., Jan. 6, 2007) is given by



(OEIS A127196), where is the Euler-Mascheroni constant. This integral (in the form considered
originally by Oloa) is the case of the class of integrals


previously studied by Glasser. The closed form given above was independently found by Glasser and
Oloa (L. Glasser, pers. comm., Feb. 2, 2010; O. Oloa, pers. comm., Feb. 2, 2010), and proofs of the
result were subsequently published by Glasser and Manna (2008) and Oloa (2008). Generalizations of
this integral have subsequently been studied by Oloa and others; see also Bailey and Borwein (2008).

An interesting class of integrals is

which have the special values


(Bailey et al. 2007, pp. 42 and 60).

An amazing integral determined empirically is





(Bailey et al. 2007, p. 61).

A complicated-looking definite integral of a rational function with a simple solution is given by


(Bailey et al. 2007, p. 258).

Another challenging integral is that for the volume of the Reuleaux tetrahedron,



(OEIS A102888; Weisstein).

Integrands that look alike could provide very different results, as illustrated by the beautiful pair



due to V. Adamchik (OEIS A115287; Moll 2006; typo corrected), where is the omega
constant and is the Lambert W-function. These can be computed using contour integration.

Computer mathematics packages also often return results much more complicated than necessary. An
example of this type is provided by the integral


for and which follows from a simple application of the Leibniz integral rule (Woods 1926,
pp. 143-144).

There are a wide range of methods available for numerical integration. Good sources for such techniques
include Press et al. (1992) and Hildebrand (1956). The most straightforward numerical integration
technique uses the Newton-Cotes formulas (also called quadrature formulas), which approximate a
function tabulated at a sequence of regularly spaced intervals by various degree polynomials. If the
endpoints are tabulated, then the 2- and 3-point formulas are called the trapezoidal rule and Simpson's
rule, respectively. The 5-point formula is called Boole's rule. A generalization of thetrapezoidal
rule is romberg integration, which can yield accurate results for many fewer function evaluations.

If the analytic form of a function is known (instead of its values merely being tabulated at a fixed number
of points), the best numerical method of integration is called Gaussian quadrature. By picking the
optimal abscissas at which to compute the function, Gaussian quadrature produces the most accurate
approximations possible. However, given the speed of modern computers, the additional complication of
the Gaussian quadrature formalism often makes it less desirable than the brute-force method of simply
repeatedly calculating twice as many points on a regular grid until convergence is obtained. An excellent
reference for Gaussian quadrature is Hildebrand (1956).

The June 2, 1996 comic strip FoxTrot by Bill Amend (Amend 1998, p. 19; Mitchell 2006/2007) featured
the following definite integral as a "hard" exam problem intended for a remedial math class but
accidentally handed out to the normal class:


The integral corresponds to integration over a spherical cone with opening angle and radius 4.
However, it is not clear what the integrand physically represents (it resembles computation of a moment
of inertia, but that would give a factor rather than the given ).

Integration can be used to find areas, volumes, central

points and many useful things. But it is often used to find

the area under the graph of a function like this:

The area can be found by adding slices that approach zero

in width:

And there are Rules of Integration that help us get the



The symbol for "Integral" is a stylish "S"

(for "Sum", the idea of summing slices):

After the Integral Symbol we put the function we want to find the integral of (called the

and then finish with dx to mean the slices go in the x direction (and approach zero in
Definite Integral

A Definite Integral has start and end values: in other words there is an interval (a to b).

The values are put at the bottom and top of the "S", like this:

Indefinite Integral Definite Integral

(no specific values) (from a to b)

We can find the Definite Integral by calculating the Indefinite Integral at points a and b,
then subtracting:


The Definite Integral, from 1 to 2, of 2x dx:

The Indefinite Integral is: ∫2x dx = x2 + C

 At x=1: ∫2x dx = 12 + C
 At x=2: ∫2x dx = 22 + C


(22 + C) − (12 + C)

22 + C − 1 2 − C

4−1+ C−C =3

And "C" gets cancelled out ... so with Definite Integrals we can ignore C.

In fact we can give the answer directly like this:

We can check that, by calculating the area of the shape:

Yes, it has an area of 3.


Let's try another example:


The Definite Integral, from 0.5 to 1.0, of cos(x) dx:

(Note: x must be in radians )

The Indefinite Integral is: ∫cos(x) dx = sin(x) + C

We can ignore C, and do the subtraction directly:

= sin(1) − sin(0.5)

= 0.841... − 0.479...

= 0.362...

And another example to make an important point:


The Definite Integral, from 0 to 1, of sin(x) dx:

The Indefinite Integral is: ∫sin(x) dx = −cos(x) + C

Since we are going from 0, can we just calculate the area at x=1?

−cos(1) = −0.540...

What? The Area at x=1 is negative? No, because we forgot the "+ C", which is important

We can only ignore C when it gets cancelled by subtraction

So let us do it properly, subtracting one from the other:

= −cos(1) − (−cos(0))

= −0.540... − (−1)

= 0.460...

That's better!

But we can have negative areas, when the curve is below the axis:

The Definite Integral, from 1 to 3, of cos(x) dx:

Notice that some of it is positive, and some negative.

The definite integral will work out the net area.

The Indefinite Integral is:∫cos(x) dx = sin(x) + C

So let us do the calculations:

= sin(3) − sin(1)

= 0.141... − 0.841...

= −0.700...

Try integrating cos(x) with different start and end values to see for yourself how positive
and negative areas work.


Oh yes, the function we are integrating must be Continuous between a and b: no holes,

jumps or vertical asymptotes (where the function heads up/down towards infinity).

A vertical asymptote between a and b affects the definite integral.


Reversing the interval

Reversing the direction of the interval gives the negative of the original direction.

Interval of zero length

When the interval starts and ends at the same place, the result is zero: