can someone teach me how to derive the integration of finding the length of a segment from (x1, y1) to (x2, y2) by spliting the x-axis into steps and using limits and summations?

thanks!

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- Jan 10th 2010, 04:47 AMalexandrabel90deriving length of segment
can someone teach me how to derive the integration of finding the length of a segment from (x1, y1) to (x2, y2) by spliting the x-axis into steps and using limits and summations?

thanks! - Jan 10th 2010, 05:06 AMHallsofIvy
It would be better to ask about a specific example than rather than just the general concept! Also, I take it you are actually asking about the arclength of a curve rather than just the length of a straight line segment since that would not require "limits and summations".

Suppose y= f(x) gives a graph that passes through (x1,y1) and (x2,y2). Divide the x-axis into n smaller segments (not necessarily of the same length but that would simplify calculations if you were actually doing calculations).

If one endpoint of such an interal is " " then the other endpoint is " ". The corresponding points on the curve are and and the straight line distance between them is . The total length of all such segments, and so an approximation to the arclength is .

We can simplify that a little by factoring a " " out of the square root- of course, it is no longer squared outside the square root: .

Now let and and that sum becomes .

Of course, that is a "Riemann sum" and in the limit, n goes to 0 so we are taking more and more small segments, it becomes the integral

because the fraction , a "difference quotient", becomes the derivative. - Jan 10th 2010, 05:36 AMalexandrabel90
for the summation, in your above equation, why is it (i-1) and not (n-1)?

what happens to the change in xi as you take summation?

thanks thanks!