Riemann Sum & Table Problems (Type 5)

AP Questions Type 5: Riemann Sum & Table Problems

Information given in tables may be used to test a variety of ideas in calculus including analysis of functions, accumulation, theory and theorems, and position-velocity-acceleration, among others. Numbers and working with numbers are part of the Rule of Four and table problems are one way they are tested. This question often includes an equation in a latter part of the problem that refers to the same situation.

 What students should be able to do:

  • Find the average rate of change over an interval
  • Approximate the derivative using a difference quotient. Use the two values closest to the number at which you are approximating.  This amounts to finding the slope or rate of change. Show the quotient even if you can do the arithmetic in your head and even if the denominator is 1.
  • Use a left-, right-, or midpoint- Riemann sums or a trapezoidal approximation to approximate the value of a definite integral using values in the table (typically with uneven subintervals). The Trapezoidal Rule, per se, is not required; it is expected that students will add the areas of a small number of trapezoids without reference to a formula.
  • Average value, average rate of change, Rolle’s theorem, the Mean Value Theorem, and the Intermediate Value Theorem. (See 2007 AB 3 – four simple parts that could be multiple-choice questions; the mean on this question was 0.96 out of a possible nine points.)
  • These questions are usually presented in context and answers should be in that context. The context may be something growing (changing over time) or linear motion.
  • Use the table to find a value based on the Mean Value Theorem (2018 AB 4(b)) or Intermediate Value Theorem. Also, 2018 AB 4 (d) asked a related question based on a function given by an equation.
  • Unit analysis.

Dos and Don’ts

Do: Remember that you do not know what happens between the values in the table unless additional information is given. For example, do not assume that the largest number in the table is the maximum value of the function, or that the function is decreasing between two values just because a value is less than the preceding value.

Do: Show what you are doing even if you can do it in your head. If you’re finding a slope, show the quotient even if the denominator is 1.

Do Not do arithmetic: A long expression consisting entirely of numbers such as you get when doing a Riemann sum, does not need to be simplified in any way. If you simplify a correct answer incorrectly, you will lose credit.

Do Not leave expression such as R(3) – pull its numerical value from the table.

Do Not: Find a regression equation and then use that to answer parts of the question. While regression is perfectly good mathematics, regression equations are not one of the four things students may do with their calculator. Regression gives only an approximation of our function. The exam is testing whether students can work with numbers.


This question typically covers topics from Unit 6 of the CED but may include topics from Units 2, 3, and 4 as well.


Free-response examples:

  • 2007 AB 3 (4 simple parts on various theorems, yet the mean score was 0.96 out of 9),
  • 2017 AB 1/BC 1, and AB 6,
  • 2016 AB 1/BC 1
  • 2018 AB 4
  • 2021 AB 1/ BC 1
  • 2022 AB4/BC4 – average rate of change, IVT, Rieman sum, Related Rate (part (d) good question)

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 86, 91
  • 2012 BC 8, 81, 86 (81 and 86 are the same on both the AB and BC exams)

Revised March 12, 2021, March 25, 2022


The Old Pump

A tank is being filled with water using a pump that is old and slows down as it runs. The table below gives the rate at which the pump pumps at ten-minute intervals. If the tank initially has 570 gallons of water in it, approximately how much water is in the tank after 90 minutes?

Elapsed time (minutes)   0   10  20   30   40   50   60   70   80   90
Rate (gallons / minute)   42   40   38   35   35   32   28   20   19   10

And so, integration begins.

Ask your students to do this problem alone. When they are ready (after a few minutes) collect their opinions.  They will not all be the same (we hope, because there is more than one reasonable way to approximate the amount). Ask exactly how they got their answers and what assumptions they made. Be sure they always include units (gallons).  Here are some points to make in your discussion – points that we hope the kids will make and you can just “underline.”

    1. Answers between 3140 and 3460 gallons are reasonable. Other answers in that range are acceptable. They will not use terms like “left-sum”, “right sum” and “trapezoidal rule” because they do not know them yet, but their explanations should amount to the same thing. An answer of 3300 gallons may be popular; it is the average of the other two, but students may not have gotten it by averaging 3140 and 3460.
    2. Ask if they think their estimate is too large or too small and why they think that.
    3. Ask what they need to know to give a better approximation – more and shorter time intervals.
    4. Assumptions: If they added 570 + 42(10) + 40(10) + … +19(10) they are assuming that the pump ran at each rate for the full ten minutes and then suddenly dropped to the next. Others will assume the rate dropped immediately and ran at the slower rate for the 10 minutes. Some students will assume the rate dropped evenly over each 10-minute interval and use the average of the rates at the ends of each interval (570 + 41(10) + 39(10) + … 14.5(10) = 3300).
    5. What is the 570 gallons in the problem for? Well, of course to foreshadow the idea of an initial condition. Hopefully, someone will forget to include it and you can point it out.
    6. With luck someone will begin by graphing the data. If no one does, you should suggest it; (as always) to help them see what they are doing graphically. They are figuring the “areas” of rectangles whose height is the rate in gallons/minute and whose width is the time in minutes. Thus the “area” is not really an area but a volume (gal/min)(min) = gallons). In addition to unit analysis, graphing is important since you will soon be finding the area between the graph of a function and the x-axis in just this same manner.

Follow up: Flying to Integrationland

Be sure to check the “Thoughts on ‘The Old Pump'” in the comments section below.

Revised from a post of November 30, 2012. 

Adapting 2021 AB 1 / BC 1

First of nine. One of the things many successful AP Calculus teachers do is to use past AP exam questions throughout the year. Individual multiple-choice exam questions are used as the topics they test are taught; free-response questions are adapted and expanded. There are several ways to do this:

  • Assign parts of a free-response (FR) question as is as the topic it tests is taught. Later, other parts from the same stem can be assigned. Including previously assigned parts is a spiraling technique. Once students see that you are doing this, they will be more likely to keep up to date on past topics.
  • Adapting and expanding the questions is another way to use FR questions.

This summer I will be discussing how to do just that. Each week I will look at one of the released 2021 FR questions and suggest how to expand and adapt it. Each stem allows for many more questions than can be asked on any one exam. You have the luxury of asking other things based on the same stem.

This summer’s series of posts will take one question at a time discuss it and suggest additional questions or explorations that may be asked. I will not be presenting solutions. They are available on AP Community bulletin board here and here. I will link the posts to the scoring standards when they are published.


2021 AB 1 / BC 1

This is a Reimann sum and Table question (Type 5) and covers topics from Units 6 and 8 from the current Course and Exam Description. All four parts are fairly typical for this type of problem. There is a little twist in part (b). The context is the density of bacteria growing in a petri dish.

Density is not listed in the Course and Exam Description. It is not covered well in many textbooks. Since it is not listed you need not teach it; exam questions referencing density have enough included information so that a student who has never seen the concept will still be able to answer the question. Keep this in mind as you look at each part; help your students see past the context and look at the calculus. More information on density see these posts Density Functions, and Good Question 15 and Good Question 16.

The stem for 2021 AB 1 / BC 1 reads:

Part (a): Students were asked to estimate the value of the derivative of f at r = 2.25 and explain its meaning, including units, in the context of the problem.  The expected procedure is to find the slope between the two values closest to r =2.25. The interpretation is the increase in density as you move away from the center. The units are milligrams per square centimeter per centimeter distant from the center \frac{{mg/c{{m}^{2}}}}{{cm}}.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • AP exams have always asked this question at a value exactly half-way between two values in the table. You may change this to some other place such as r = 3 or r = 0.8.
  • Units of the derivative are always the units of the function divided by the units of the independent variable. Be sure your students understand this.
  • The units can be correctly written as  \frac{{mg}}{{c{{m}^{3}}}}, but here is a good change to discuss what the units mean. Why does “milligrams per square centimeter per centimeter distant from the center” make more sense?
  • Ask “Is there a point in the interval [2, 2.5] where the slope of the tangent line is 8? Justify your answer.” This makes use of the Mean Value Theorem.

Part (b) : As usual in this type of problem, students are asked to write a Riemann sum based on the intervals in the table. The difference here is that the integral being approximated, \displaystyle 2\pi \int_{0}^{4}{{rf\left( r \right)}}dr, has an “extra” factor of r in it.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • The question asked for a right Riemann sum. You can easily adapt this by asking for a left Riemann sum, a midpoint Riemann sum, and/or a Trapezoidal approximation.
  • You may ask for a Riemann sum without the “extra” factor.
  • You may find a different Riemann sum problem and include an “extra” factor in it.
  • The integral is the integral for a radial density function. See the Density blog post cited above, example 2.
  • The radial density function looks like the integral for finding volumes by the method of cylindrical shells. This is more than a coincidence. Why?

Part (c): This part asked if the answer in (b) is an overestimate or an underestimate, with an explanation. For any approximation, some idea of its accuracy is important. In BC questions on power series approximations, a numerical estimate of the error bound is a common question.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • Ask the same question for a different Riemann sum (left, midpoint, trapezoid).
  • The error in right and left Riemann sums estimates depend on whether the function is increasing or decreasing, and therefore on the first derivative. Midpoint and Trapezoidal approximation estimates are related to the concavity and therefore to the second derivative. See: Good Question 4)
  • A visual idea helps keep all this straight. Draw sketches showing the Riemann sum rectangles or trapezoids. Whether they lie above or below the graph of the function determines whether the approximation is an overestimate or underestimate.

Part (d): Typical of the Riemann sum table question is the final part with a related question based on a function and not based on the table.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • This is a calculator allowed question. Students should not try to do the integration by hand.
  • The question asked for the average value of the function on an interval. Other questions you could ask are find the rate of change (derivative) at a point, the total mass \int_{1}^{4}{{rf\left( r \right)}}dr (note “extra” r), the average rate of change on an interval, etc.

Next week 2021 AB 2.

I would be happy to hear your ideas for other ways to use these questions. Please use the reply box below to share your ideas.

Riemann Sum & Table Problems (Type 5)

AP  Questions Type 5: Riemann Sum & Table Problems

Tables may be used to test a variety of ideas in calculus including analysis of functions, accumulation, theory and theorems, and position-velocity-acceleration, among others. Numbers and working with numbers is part of the Rule of Four and table problems are one way this is tested. This question often includes an equation in a  latter part of the problem that refers to the same situation.

 What students should be able to do:

  • Find the average rate of change over an interval
  • Approximate the derivative using a difference quotient. Use the two values closest to the number at which you are approximating.  This amounts to finding the slope or rate of change. Show the quotient even if you can do the arithmetic in your head and even if  the denominator is 1.
  • Use a left-, right-, or midpoint- Riemann sums or a trapezoidal approximation to approximate the value of a definite integral using values in the table (typically with uneven subintervals). The Trapezoidal Rule, per se, is not required; it is expected that students will add the areas of a small number of trapezoids without reference to a formula.
  • Average value, average rate of change, Rolle’s theorem, the Mean Value Theorem and the Intermediate Value Theorem. (See 2007 AB 3 – four simple parts that could be multiple-choice questions; the mean on this question was 0.96 out of a possible 9.)
  • These questions are usually presented in some context and answers should be in that context. The context may be something growing (changing over time) or linear motion.
  • Use the table to find a value based on the Mean Value Theorem (2018 AB 4(b)) or Intermediate Value Theorem.
  • One of the parts of this question asks a related question based on a function given by an equation.
  • Unit analysis.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Remember that you do not know what happens between the values in the table unless some other information is given. For example, do not assume that the largest number in the table is the maximum value of the function, or that the function is decreasing between two values just because a value is less than the preceding value.

Do: Show what you are doing even if you can do it in your head. If you’re finding a slope, show the quotient even if the denominator is 1.

Do Not do arithmetic: A long expression consisting entirely of numbers such as you get when doing a Riemann sum, does not need to be simplified in any way. If you a simplify correct answer incorrectly, you will lose credit.

Do Not leave expression such as R(3) – pull its numerical value from the table.

Do Not: Find a regression equation and then use that to answer parts of the question. While regression is perfectly good mathematics, regression equations are not one of the four things students may do with their calculator. Regression gives only an approximation of our function. The exam is testing whether students can work with numbers.


This question typically covers topics from Unit 6 of the 2019 CED but may include topics from Units 2, 3, and 4 as well.


Free-response examples:

  • 2007 AB 3 (4 simple parts on various theorems, yet the mean score was 0.96 out of 9),
  • 2017 AB 1/BC 1, and AB 6,
  • 2016 AB 1/BC 1
  • 2018 AB 4

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 86, 91
  • 2012 BC 8, 81, 86  (81 and 86 are the same on both the AB and BC exams)

 

 

 

Revised March 12, 2021


 

 

Type 5: Table and Riemann Sum Questions

Before we look at the table and Riemann sum problem take a look at this: A Google Employee has calculated \displaystyle \pi to over a trillion decimal places, To be exact 31,425925,535,897 places…Hum, where have I seen those digits before?  And it only took took 25 virtual machines 121 days to do it.

On to Riemann sums and table problems:

Tables may be used to test a variety of ideas in calculus including analysis of functions, accumulation, theory and theorems, and position-velocity-acceleration, among others. Numbers and working with numbers is part of the Rule of Four and table problems are one way this is tested. This question often includes an equation in a  latter part of the problem that refers to the same situation.

 What students should be able to do:

  • Find the average rate of change over an interval
  • Approximate the derivative using a difference quotient. Use the two values closest to the number at which you are approximating.  This amounts to finding the slope or rate of change. Show the quotient even if you can do the arithmetic in your head.
  • Use Riemann sums (left, right, midpoint), or a trapezoidal approximation to approximate the value of a definite integral using values in the table (typically with uneven subintervals). The Trapezoidal Rule, per se, is not required; it is expected that students will add the areas of a small number of trapezoids without reference to a formula.
  • Average value, average rate of change, Rolle’s theorem, the Mean Value Theorem and the Intermediate Value Theorem. (See 2007 AB 3 – four simple parts that could be multiple-choice questions; the mean on this question was 0.96 out of a possible 9.)
  • These questions are usually presented in some context and answers should be in that context.
  • Unit analysis.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Remember that you do not know what happens between the values in the table unless some other information is given. For example, do not assume that the largest number in the table is the maximum value of the function, or that the function is decreasing just because a value is less than the preceding value.

Do: Show what you are doing even if you can do it in your head. If you’re finding a slope, show the quotient.

Do Not do arithmetic: A long expression consisting entirely of numbers such as you get when doing a Riemann sum, does not need to be simplified in any way. If you a simplify correct answer incorrectly, you will lose credit.

Do Not leave expression such as R(3) – pull its numerical value from the table.

Do Not: Find a regression equation and then use that to answer parts of the question. While regression is perfectly good mathematics, regression equations are not one of the four things students may do with their calculator. Regression gives only an approximation of our function. The exam is testing whether students can work with numbers.

Free-response examples:

  • 2007 AB 3 (4 simple parts on various theorems, yet the mean score was 0.96 out of 9),
  • 2017 AB 1/BC 1, and AB 6,
  • 2016 AB 1/BC 1

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 86, 91
  • 2012 BC 8, 81, 86  (81 and 86 are the same on both the AB and BC exams)

Schedule of review postings:


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Table & Riemann Sum Questions (Type 5)

Tables may be used to test a variety of ideas in calculus including analysis of functions, accumulation, position-velocity-acceleration, theory and theorems among others. Numbers and working with numbers is part of the Rule of Four and table problems are one way this is tested.

 What students should be able to do:

  • Find the average rate of change over an interval
  • Approximate the derivative using a difference quotient. Use the two values closest to the number at which you are approximating.  This amounts to finding the slope. Show the quotient even if you can do the arithmetic in your head.
  • Use Riemann sums (left, right, midpoint), or a trapezoidal approximation to approximate the value of a definite integral using values in the table (typically with uneven subintervals). The Trapezoidal Rule, per se, is not required; it is expected that students will add the areas of a small number of trapezoids without reference to a formula.
  • Average value, average rate of change, Rolle’s theorem, the Mean Value Theorem and the Intermediate Value Theorem. (See 2007 AB 3 – four simple parts that could be multiple-choice questions; the mean on this question was 0.96 out of a possible 9.)
  • These questions are usually presented in some context and answers should be in that context.
  • Unit analysis.

 Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Remember that you do not know what happens between the values in the table unless some other information is given. For example, don’t assume that the largest number in the table is the maximum value of the function.

Do: Show what you are doing even if you can do it in your head. If you’re finding a slope, show the quotient.

Do Not do arithmetic: A long expression consisting entire of numbers such as you get when doing a Riemann sum, does not need to be simplified in any way. If you simplify correct answer incorrectly, you will lose credit. However, do not leave expression such as R(3) – pull its numerical value from the table.

Do Not: Find a regression equation and then use that to answer parts of the question. While regression is perfectly good mathematics, regression equations are not one of the four things students may do with their calculator. Regression gives only an approximation of our function. The exam is testing whether students can work with numbers.

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.


Next Posts:

Tuesday Match 21: Differential Equations (Type 6)

Friday March 24: Others (Type 7: related rates, implicit differentiation, etc.)

Tuesday March 28: for BC Parametric Equation (Type 8)


 

 

 

The Table Question

AP Type Questions 5

Tables may be used to test a variety of ideas in calculus including analysis of functions, accumulation, position-velocity-acceleration, theory and theorems among others. Numbers and working with numbers is part of the Rule of Four and table problems are how this is tested.

 What students should be able to do

  • Find the average rate of change over an interval or approximate the derivative using a difference quotient. Use the two values closest to the number at which you are approximating.  This amounts to finding the slope. Show the quotient even if you can do the arithmetic in your head.
  • Use Riemann sums (left, right, midpoint) or a trapezoidal approximation to approximate the value of a definite integral using values in the table (typically with uneven subintervals). The Trapezoidal Rule, per se, is not required; it is expected that students will add the areas of several trapezoids without reference to a formula.
  • Average value, average rate of change, Rolle’s theorem, the Mean Value Theorem and the Intermediate Value Theorem. (See 2007 AB 3 – four simple parts that could be multiple-choice questions; the mean on this question was 0.96 out of a possible 9. )
  • These questions are usually presented in some context and answers should be in that context.
  • Unit analysis.

 Do’s and Don’ts

 Do: Remember that you do not know what happens between the values in the table unless some other information is given. For example, don’t assume that the largest number in the table is the maximum value of the function.

Do: Show what you are doing even if you can do it in your head. If you’re finding a slope, show the quotient.

Do Not: Do arithmetic. A long expression consisting entire of numbers such as you get when doing a Riemann sum, does not need to be simplified in any way. If you simplify correct answer incorrectly, you will lose credit.

Do Not: Use a calculator to find a regression equation and then use that to answer parts of the question. While regression is perfectly good mathematics, regression equations are not one of the four things students may do with their calculator. Regression gives only an approximation of our function. The exam is testing whether students can work with numbers.

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.