Integral is an important concept in mathematics and, together with differentiation, is one of the two main operations in calculus. Given a function ƒ of a real variable x and an interval [a, b] of the real line, the definite integral.

The term integral may also refer to the notion of antiderivative, a function F whose derivative is the given function ƒ. In this case, it is called an indefinite integral, while the integrals discussed in this article are termed definite integrals. Some authors maintain a distinction between antiderivatives and indefinite integrals.

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Integrals and derivatives became the basic tools of calculus, with numerous applications in science and engineering. A rigorous mathematical definition of the integral was given by Bernhard Riemann. It is based on a limiting procedure which approximates the area of a curvilinear region by breaking the region into thin vertical slabs. A line integral is defined for functions of two or three variables, and the interval of integration [a, b] is replaced by a certain curve connecting two points on the plane or in the space. In a surface integral, the curve is replaced by a piece of a surface in the three-dimensional space. Integrals of differential forms play a fundamental role in modern differential geometry. These generalizations of integrals first arose from the needs of physics, and they play an important role in the formulation of many physical laws, notably those of electrodynamics. There are many modern concepts of integration, among these, the most common is based on the abstract mathematical theory known as Lebesgue integration, developed by Henri Lebesgue.


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