A Calculus Journey

I think that the path leading up to and including the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) is one of the most beautiful walks in mathematics. I have written several posts about it. You will soon be ready to travel that path with your students. (I always try to post on topics shortly before most teachers will get to them, so that you have some time to consider them and work the ideas you like into your lessons.)

Here is an annotated list of some of the posts to guide you on your journey.

Working Towards Riemann Sums gives the preliminary definitions you will need to define and discuss Riemann sums.

Riemann Sums defines the several Riemann sums often used in the calculus left-side sums, right-side sums, midpoint sums and the trapezoidal sums. “The Area Under a Curve” in the iPad app A Little Calculus is a great visual display of these and shows what happens as you use more subintervals.

The Definition of the Definite Integral gives the definition of the definite integral as the limit of any Riemann sum. As with any definition, there is nothing to prove or argue about here. The thing to remember is that the limit of the Riemann sum and the definite integral are the same thing. Behind any definite integral is a Riemann sum. The advantage of the definition’s integral notation is that it shows the interval involved which the Riemann sum does not. (Any Riemann sum may be represented by many definite integrals. See Good Question 11 – Riemann Reversed.)

Foreshadowing the FTC is an example of how a definite integral may be evaluated. It is long and has a lot of notation, so you may not want to use this.

The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus is where the path leads. This post develops the FTC based on the other “big” idea of the calculus: the Mean Value Theorem. (I think the form here is preferable to the usual book notation that uses F(x) and its derivate f (x).)

Y the FTC? Tries to answer the question of what’s so important about the FTC. Example 1: The verbal interpretation of the FTC (the integral of a rate of change is the net amount of change over the interval.) will soon be used in many practical applications. While example 2 shows how the FTC allows one to evaluate a definite integral and, therefore the Riemann sum it represents, by evaluating a function whose derivative is the integrand (its antiderivative).

More About the FTC presents examples leading up to the other form of the FTC: the derivative of the integral is the integrand).

At this point you may go in the direction of learning how to find antiderivatives or working on applications. (See Integration itinerary.)

Bon Voyage!     


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