Suppose is a non-negative, continuous function defined on some interval . Then by the area under the curve between and we mean the area of the region bounded above by the graph of , below by the -axis, on the left by the vertical line , and on the right by the vertical line . All of the numerical methods in this lab depend on subdividing the interval into subintervals of uniform length.

In these simple rectangular approximation methods, the area above each subinterval is approximated by the area of a rectangle, with the height of the rectangle being chosen according to some rule. In particular, we will consider the left, right and midpoint rules.

The Maple `student` package has commands for visualizing these
three rectangular area approximations. To use them, you first must
load the package via the with command. Then try the three commands
given below to help you understand the differences between the
three different rectangular approximations. Note that
the different rules choose rectangles which in
each case will either underestimate or overestimate the area.

> with(student): > rightbox(x^2,x=0..4); > leftbox(x^2,x=0..4); > middlebox(x^2,x=0..4);There are also Maple commands

> rightsum(x^2,x=0..4); > evalf(rightsum(x^2,x=0..4)); > evalf(leftsum(x^2,x=0..4)); > evalf(middlesum(x^2,x=0..4));

All of the Maple commands described so far in this lab can include a third
argument to specify the number of subintervals. The default is 4
subintervals. The example below approximates the area under
from to using the `rightsum` command with 50,
100, 320 and 321 subintervals. As the number of subintervals
increases, the approximation generally gets closer and closer to the exact
answer. You can see this by assigning a label to the approximation,
assigning a label to the exact answer and taking their
difference. The closer you are to the actual answer, the smaller the
difference. The example below shows how we can use Maple to
approximate this area with an absolute error no greater than 0.1.

> exact := 4^3/3; > estimate := evalf(rightsum(x^2,x=0..4,50)); > evalf(abs(exact-estimate)); > estimate := evalf(rightsum(x^2,x=0..4,100)); > evalf(abs(exact-estimate)); > estimate := evalf(rightsum(x^2,x=0..4,320)); > evalf(abs(exact-estimate)); > estimate := evalf(rightsum(x^2,x=0..4,321)); > evalf(abs(exact-estimate));

- You are given that the exact area under the function
on the interval is
.
- Use the command
`leftsum`to approximate this definite integral to within an absolute error of . - Use the command
`middlesum`to approximate this definite integral to within an absolute error of . - Explain which command you think does a better job and why.

- Use the command
- Estimate the value of to within an absolute error of
by using
a midpoint rule approximation to the definite integral
. Explain why this
definite integral
was chosen to estimate the value of and why it would be
difficult to evaluate analytically.

2002-10-29