Area and Volume Problems (Type 4)

AP Type Questions 4: Area and Volume

Given equations that define a region in the plane students are asked to find its area, the volume of the solid formed when the region is revolved around a line, and/or the region is used as a base of a solid with regular cross-sections. This standard application of the integral has appeared every year since year one (1969) on the AB exam and almost every year on the BC exam. You can be fairly sure that if a free-response question on areas and volumes does not appear, the topic will be tested on the multiple-choice section.

What students should be able to do:

  • Find the intersection(s) of the graphs and use them as limits of integration (calculator equation solving). Write the equation followed by the solution; showing work is not required. Usually, no credit is earned until the solution is used in context (e.g., as a limit of integration). Students should know how to store and recall these values to save time and avoid copy errors.
  • Find the area of the region between the graph and the x-axis or between two graphs.
  • Find the volume when the region is revolved around a line, not necessarily an axis or an edge of the region, by the disk/washer method. See “Subtract the Hole from the Whole”
  • The cylindrical shell method will never be necessary for a question on the AP exams but is eligible for full credit if properly used.
  • Find the volume of a solid with regular cross-sections whose base is the region between the curves. For an interesting variation on this idea see 2009 AB 4(b)
  • Find the equation of a vertical line that divides the region in half (area or volume). This involves setting up an integral equation where the limit is the variable for which the equation is solved.
  • For BC only – find the area of a region bounded by polar curves: \displaystyle A=\frac{1}{2}{{\int_{{{{\theta }_{1}}}}^{{{{\theta }_{2}}}}{{\left( {r\left( \theta \right)} \right)}}}^{2}}d\theta
  • For BC only – Find perimeter using arc length integral

If this question appears on the calculator active section, it is expected that the definite integrals will be evaluated on a calculator. Students should write the definite integral with limits on their paper and put its value after it. It is not required to give the antiderivative and if a student gives an incorrect antiderivative, they will lose credit even if the final answer is (somehow) correct.

There is a calculator program available that will give the set-up and not just the answer so recently this question has been on the no calculator allowed section. (The good news is that in this case the integrals will be easy, or they will be set-up-but-do-not-integrate questions.)

Occasionally, other type questions have been included as a part of this question. See 2016 AB5/BC5 which included an average value question and a related rate question along with finding the volume.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

For some previous posts on this subject see January 911, 2013 and “Subtract the Hole from the Whole” of December 6, 2016.


The Area and Volume question covers topics from Unit 6 of the CED .


Free-response questions:

  • Variations: 2009 AB 4, Don’t overlook this one, especially part (b)
  • 2016 AB5/BC5,
  • 2017 AB 1 (using a table),
  • 2018 AB 5 – average rate of change, L’Hospital’s Rule
  • 2019 AB 5
  • Perimeter parametric curves 2011 BC 3 and 2014 BC 5
  • Area in polar form 2017 BC 5, 2018 BC 5, 20129 BC 2
  • 2021 AB 4/ BC 4
  • 2022 AB2 – area, volume, inc/dec analysis, and related rate.

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2008 AB 83 (Use absolute value),
  • 2012 AB 10, 92
  • 2012 BC 87, 92 (Polar area)

Revised March 12, 2012, March 22, 2022


Polar Equations for AP Calculus

A recent thread on the AP Calculus Community bulletin boards concerned polar equations. One teacher observed that her students do not have a very solid understanding of polar graphs when they get to calculus. I expect this is a common problem. While ideally the polar coordinate system should be a major topic in pre-calculus courses, this is sometimes not the case. Some classes may even omit the topic entirely. Getting accustomed to a new coordinate scheme and a different way of graphing is a challenge.  I remember not having that good an understanding myself when I entered college (where first-year calculus was a sophomore course). Seeing an animated version much later helped a lot. 

This blog post will discuss the basics of polar equations and their graphs. It will not be as much as students should understand, but I hope the basics discussed here will be a help. There are also some suggestions for extending the study of polar function as the end.

Instead of using the Cartesian approach of giving every point in the plane a “name” by giving its distance from the y-axis and the x-axis as an ordered pair (x,y), polar coordinates name the point differently. Polar coordinates use the ordered pair (r, θ), where r, gives the distance of the point from the pole (the origin) as a function of θ, the angle that the ray from the pole (origin) to the point makes with the polar axis, (the positive half of the x-axis).

Start with this Desmos graph. It will help if you open it and follow along with the discussion below. The equation in the example is \displaystyle r(\theta )=2+4\sin (\theta ) You may change this to explore other graphs. (Because of the way Desmos graphs, you cannot have a slider for θ; the a-slider will move the line and the point on the graph. r(a) gives the value of r(θ).

  • Notice that as the angle changes the point at varying distance from the pole traces a curve. 
  • Move the slider to π/6. Since sin(π/6) = 0.5, r(π/6) = 4. The red dot is at the point (4, π/6). Move the slider to other points to see how they work. For example, θ = π/2 gives the point (6,π/2).
  • When the slider gets to θ = 7π/6, r = 0 and the point is at the pole. After this the values of r are negative, and the point is now on the ray opposite to the ray pointing into the third and fourth quadrants. The dashed line turns red to remind you of this.
  • As we continue around, the point returns to the origin at θ = 11π/6, then values are again positive. 
  • The graph returns to its starting point when θ = 2π. Note (2,0) is the same point as (2, 2π).
  • Even though this is the graph of a function, some points may be graphed more than once and the vertical line test does not apply. 
  • If we continued around, the graph will retrace the same path. This often happens when the polar function contains trig functions with integer multiples of θ.
    • This does not usually happen if no trig functions are involved – try the spiral r = θ.
    • If you enter non-integer multiples of θ and extend the domain to large values, vastly different graphs will appear, often making nice designs. Try \displaystyle r\left( \theta \right)=2+4\sin \left( {1.3\theta } \right) for \displaystyle 0\le \theta \le 20\pi . This is an area for exploration (if you have time).

In pre-calculus courses several families of polar graphs are often studied and named. For example, there are cardioids, rose curves, spirals, limaçons, etc. The AP Exams do not refer to these names and students are not required to know the names. The exception is circles which have the following forms where R is the radius: θ=R, r = Rsin(θ) or r = Rsin(θ)

To change from polar to rectangular for use the equations x=r\cos \left( \theta  \right) and  y=r\sin \left( \theta  \right). This is simple right triangle trigonometry (draw a perpendicular from the point to the x-axis and from there to the pole). 

To change from rectangular to polar form use  r=\sqrt{{{{x}^{2}}+{{y}^{2}}}} and  \displaystyle \theta =\arctan \left( {\tfrac{y}{x}} \right)

AP Calculus Applications

There are two applications that are listed on the AP Calculus Course and Exam Description: using and interpreting the derivative of polar curves (Unit 9.7) and finding the area enclosed by a polar curve(s) (Units 9.8 and 9.9).

Since calculus is concerned with motion, AP Students should be able to analyze polar curves for how things are changing:

  • The rate of change of r away from or towards the pole is given by  \displaystyle \frac{{dr}}{{d\theta }}
  • The rate of change of the point with respect to the x-direction is given by  \displaystyle \frac{{dx}}{{d\theta }} where \displaystyle x=r\cos \left( \theta \right) from above.
  • The rate of change of the point with respect to the y-direction is given by  \displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{d\theta }} where \displaystyle y=r\sin \left( \theta \right)from above.
  • The slope of the tangent line at a point on the curve is \displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{dx}}=\frac{{dy/d\theta }}{{dx/d\theta }}. See 2018 BC5 (b)

Area

 \displaystyle \underset{{\Delta \theta \to 0}}{\mathop{{\lim }}}\,\sum\limits_{{i=1}}^{\infty }{{\tfrac{1}{2}}}{{r}_{i}}^{2}\Delta \theta =\tfrac{1}{2}\int_{{{{\theta }_{1}}}}^{{{{\theta }_{2}}}}{{{{r}^{2}}d\theta }}

CAUTION: In using this formula, we need to be careful that the curve does not overlap itself. In the Desmos example, the smaller loop overlaps the larger loop; integrating from 0 to 2π counts the inner loop twice. Notice how this is handled by considering the limits of integration dividing the region into non-overlapping regions: 

  • The area of the outer loop is  \displaystyle \tfrac{1}{2}\int_{{-\pi /6}}^{{7\pi /6}}{{{{{(2+4\sin (\theta ))}}^{2}}d\theta }}\approx 35.525
  • The area of the inner loop is  \displaystyle \tfrac{1}{2}\int_{{7\pi /6}}^{{11\pi /6}}{{{{{(2+4\sin (\theta ))}}^{2}}d\theta }}\approx 2.174
  • Integrating over the entire domain gives the sum of these two:  \displaystyle \tfrac{1}{2}\int_{0}^{{2\pi }}{{{{{(2+4\sin (\theta ))}}^{2}}d\theta }}=12\pi \approx 37.699. This is not the correct area of either part. 

This problem can be avoided by considering the geometry before setting up the integral: make sure the areas do not overlap. Restricting r to only non-negative values is often required by the fine print of the theorem in textbooks, but this restriction is not necessary when finding areas and makes it difficult to find, say, the area of the smaller inner loop of the example. Here is another example: 

\displaystyle r\left( \theta \right)=\cos \left( {3\theta } \right). Between 0 and \displaystyle 2\pi this curve traces the same path twice.

Area and Volume Problems (Type 4)

AP Type Questions 4: Area and Volume

Given equations that define a region in the plane students are asked to find its area, the volume of the solid formed when the region is revolved around a line, and/or the region is used as a base of a solid with regular cross-sections. This standard application of the integral has appeared every year since year one (1969) on the AB exam and almost every year on the BC exam. You can be pretty sure that if a free-response question on areas and volumes does not appear, the topic will be tested on the multiple-choice section.

What students should be able to do:

  • Find the intersection(s) of the graphs and use them as limits of integration (calculator equation solving). Write the equation followed by the solution; showing work is not required. Usually no credit is earned until the solution is used in context (as a limit of integration). Students should know how to store and recall these values to save time and avoid copy errors.
  • Find the area of the region between the graph and the x-axis or between two graphs.
  • Find the volume when the region is revolved around a line, not necessarily an axis or an edge of the region, by the disk/washer method. See “Subtract the Hole from the Whole”
  • The cylindrical shell method will never be necessary for a question on the AP exams, but is eligible for full credit if properly used.
  • Find the volume of a solid with regular cross-sections whose base is the region between the curves. For an interesting variation on this idea see 2009 AB 4(b)
  • Find the equation of a vertical line that divides the region in half (area or volume). This involves setting up an integral equation where the limit is the variable for which the equation is solved.
  • For BC only – find the area of a region bounded by polar curves: A=\tfrac{1}{2}\int\limits_{{{\theta }_{1}}}^{{{\theta }_{2}}}{{{\left( r\left( \theta  \right) \right)}^{2}}}d\theta
  • For BC only – Find perimeter using arc length integral

If this question appears on the calculator active section, it is expected that the definite integrals will be evaluated on a calculator. Students should write the definite integral with limits on their paper and put its value after it. It is not required to give the antiderivative and if a student gives an incorrect antiderivative they will lose credit even if the final answer is (somehow) correct.

There is a calculator program available that will give the set-up and not just the answer so recently this question has been on the no calculator allowed section. (The good news is that in this case the integrals will be easy or they will be set-up-but-do-not-integrate questions.)

Occasionally, other type questions have been included as a part of this question. See 2016 AB5/BC5 which included an average value question and a related rate question along with finding the volume.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

For some previous posts on this subject see January 911, 2013 and “Subtract the Hole from the Whole” of December 6, 2016.


The Area and Volume question covers topics from Unit 6 of the 2019 CED .


Free-response questions:

  • Variations: 2009 AB 4, Don’t overlook this one, especially part (b)
  • 2016 AB5/BC5,
  • 2017 AB 1 (using a table),
  • 2018 AB 5 – average rate of change, L’Hospital’s Rule
  • 2019 AB 5
  • Perimeter parametric curves 2011 BC 3 and 2014 BC 5
  • Area in polar form 2017 BC 5, 2018 BC 5, 20129 BC 2

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2008 AB 83 (Use absolute value),
  • 2012 AB 10, 92
  • 2012 BC 87, 92 (Polar area)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revised March 12, 2012


 

2019 CED Unit 8: Applications of Integration

This unit seems to fit more logically after the opening unit on integration (Unit 6). The Course and Exam Description (CED) places Unit 7 Differential Equations before Unit 8 probably because the previous unit ended with techniques of antidifferentiation. My guess is that many teachers will teach Unit 8: Applications of Integration immediately after Unit 6 and before Unit 7: Differential Equations. The order is up to you. 

Unit 8 includes some standard problems solvable by integration (CED – 2019 p. 143 – 161). These topics account for about 10 – 15% of questions on the AB exam and 6 – 9% of the BC questions.

Topics 8.1 – 8.3 Average Value and Accumulation

Topic 8.1 Finding the Average Value of a Function on an Interval Be sure to distinguish between average value of a function on an interval, average rate of change on an interval and the mean value

Topic 8.2 Connecting Position, Velocity, and Acceleration of Functions using Integrals Distinguish between displacement (= integral of velocity) and total distance traveled (= integral of speed)

Topic 8. 3 Using Accumulation Functions and Definite Integrals in Applied Contexts The integral of a rate of change equals the net amount of change. A really big idea and one that is tested on all the exams. So, if you are asked for an amount, look around for a rate to integrate.

Topics 8.4 – 8.6 Area

Topic 8.4 Finding the Area Between Curves Expressed as Functions of x

Topic 8.5 Finding the Area Between Curves Expressed as Functions of y

Topic 8.6 Finding the Area Between Curves That Intersect at More Than Two Points Use two or more integrals or integrate the absolute value of the difference of the two functions. The latter is especially useful when do the computation of a graphing calculator.

Topics 8.7 – 8.12 Volume

Topic 8.7 Volumes with Cross Sections: Squares and Rectangles

Topic 8.8 Volumes with Cross Sections: Triangles and Semicircles

Topic 8.9 Volume with Disk Method: Revolving around the x– or y-Axis Volumes of revolution are volumes with circular cross sections, so this continues the previous two topics.

Topic 8.10 Volume with Disk Method: Revolving Around Other Axes

Topic 8.11 Volume with Washer Method: Revolving Around the x– or y-Axis See Subtract the Hole from the Whole for an easier way to remember how to do these problems.

Topic 8.12 Volume with Washer Method: Revolving Around Other Axes. See Subtract the Hole from the Whole for an easier way to remember how to do these problems.

Topic 8.13  Arc Length BC Only

Topic 8.13 The Arc Length of a Smooth, Planar Curve and Distance Traveled  BC ONLY


Timing

The suggested time for Unit 8 is  19 – 20 classes for AB and 13 – 14 for BC of 40 – 50-minute class periods, this includes time for testing etc.


Previous posts on these topics for both AB and BC include:

Average Value and Accumulation

Average Value of a Function and Average Value of a Function

Half-full or Half-empty

Accumulation: Need an Amount?

AP Accumulation Questions

Good Question 7 – 2009 AB 3 Accumulation, explain the meaning of an integral in context, unit analysis

Good Question 8 – or Not Unit analysis

Graphing with Accumulation 1 Seeing increasing and decreasing through integration

Graphing with Accumulation 2 Seeing concavity through integration

Area

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down  Avoiding “negative area.”

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas  BC Topic

Math vs. the “Real World”  Improper integrals  BC Topic

Volume

Volumes of Solids with Regular Cross-sections

Volumes of Revolution

Why You Never Need Cylindrical Shells

Visualizing Solid Figures 1

Visualizing Solid Figures 2

Visualizing Solid Figures 3

Visualizing Solid Figures 4

Visualizing Solid Figures 5

Painting a Point

Subtract the Hole from the Whole and Does Simplifying Make Things Simpler?

Other Applications of Integrals

Density Functions have been tested in the past, but are not specifically listed on the CED then or now.

Who’d a Thunk It? Some integration problems suitable for graphing calculator solution


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.

2019 CED – Unit 1: Limits and Continuity

2019 CED – Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties.

2019 CED – Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite , Implicit, and Inverse Functions

2019 CED – Unit 4 Contextual Applications of the Derivative  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 5 Analytical Applications of Differentiation  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


 

 

 

 

 

 

Type 4 Questions: Area and Volume Problems

Given equations that define a region in the plane students are asked to find its area, the volume of the solid formed when the region is revolved around a line, and/or the region is used as a base of a solid with regular cross-sections. This standard application of the integral has appeared every year since year one (1969) on the AB exam and almost every year on the BC exam. You can be pretty sure that if a free-response question on areas and volumes does not appear, the topic will be tested on the multiple-choice section.

What students should be able to do:

  • Find the intersection(s) of the graphs and use them as limits of integration (calculator equation solving). Write the equation followed by the solution; showing work is not required. Usually no credit is earned until the solution is used in context (as a limit of integration). Students should know how to store and recall these values to save time and avoid copy errors.
  • Find the area of the region between the graph and the x-axis or between two graphs.
  • Find the volume when the region is revolved around a line, not necessarily an axis or an edge of the region, by the disk/washer method.
  • The cylindrical shell method will never be necessary for a question on the AP exams, but is eligible for full credit if properly used.
  • Find the volume of a solid with regular cross-sections whose base is the region between the curves. For an interesting variation on this idea see 2009 AB 4(b)
  • Find the equation of a vertical line that divides the region in half (area or volume). This involves setting up an integral equation where the limit is the variable for which the equation is solved.
  • For BC only – find the area of a region bounded by polar curves: A=\tfrac{1}{2}\int\limits_{{{\theta }_{1}}}^{{{\theta }_{2}}}{{{\left( r\left( \theta  \right) \right)}^{2}}}d\theta
  • For BC only – Find perimeter using arc length integral

If this question appears on the calculator active section, it is expected that the definite integrals will be evaluated on a calculator. Students should write the definite integral with limits on their paper and put its value after it. It is not required to give the antiderivative and if a student gives an incorrect antiderivative they will lose credit even if the final answer is (somehow) correct.

There is a calculator program available that will give the set-up and not just the answer so recently this question has been on the no calculator allowed section. (The good news is that in this case the integrals will be easy or they will be set-up-but-do-not-integrate questions.)

Occasionally, other type questions have been included as a part of this question. See 2016 AB5/BC5 which included an average value question and a related rate question along with finding the volume.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

For some previous posts on this subject see January 911, 2013 and “Subtract the Hole from the Whole” of December 6, 2016


Free-response questions:

  • 2014 AB 2, 2013 AB 5.
  • 2015 AB 2
  • Variations: 2009 AB 4,
  • 2016 AB5/BC5,
  • 2017 AB 1 (using a table),
  • Perimeter 2011 BC 3 and 2014 BC 5

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2008 AB 83 (Use absolute value),
  • 2012 AB 10, 92
  • 2012 BC 87, 92 (Polar area)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Revised to add perimeter question 3-16-18,

Revised March 12, 2021

Applications of Integration – Area & Average Value

Usually the first application of integration is to find the area bounded by a function and the x-axis, followed by finding the area between two functions. We begin with these problems

First some calculator hints

Graphing Integrals using a graphing calculator to graph functions defined by integrals

Graphing Calculator Use  and Definition Integrals – Exam considerations Suggestions for using a calculator efficiently in area/volume problems

Area Problems

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down How to avoid “negative area.”

Density Functions Not often asked on the AP exams, but a good application related to area, nevertheless.

Who’d a thunk it? Some more complicated area problems for CAS solution.

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas – a BC topic

Average Value

Average Value of a Function

What’s a Mean Old Average Anyway – Discusses the different “average” in calculus

Half-full and Half Empty – Average Value

Average Value Activity to help students discover the Average Value formula


 

 

 

 

Revised and updated October 22, 2018


 

Applications of integrals, part 1: Areas & Average Value

Usually the first application of integration is to find the area bounded by a function and the x-axis, followed by finding the area between two functions. We begin with these problems

First some calculator hints

Graphing Integrals using a graphing calculator to graph functions defined by integrals

Graphing Calculator Use  and Definition Integrals – Exam considerations Suggestions for using a calculator efficiently in area/volume problems

Area Problems

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down How to avoid “negative area.”

Density Functions Not often asked on the AP exams, but a good application related to area, nevertheless.

Who’d a thunk it? Some more complicated area problems for CAS solution.

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas – a BC topic

Average Value

Average Value of a Function

What’s a Mean Old Average Anyway – Discusses the different “average” in calculus

Half-full and Half Empty – Average Value

Average Value Activity to help students discover the Average Value formula