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# 7.8 Improper Integrals

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## 7.8 Improper Integrals

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### Improper Integrals

In this section we extend the concept of a definite integral to the case where the interval is infinite and also to the case where f has an infinite discontinuity in [a, b].

In either case the integral is called an improper integral.

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Consider the infinite region S that lies under the curve

y = 1/x2, above the x-axis, and to the right of the line x = 1.

You might think that, since S is infinite in extent, its area must be infinite, but let’s take a closer look.

The area of the part of S that lies to the left of the line x = t (shaded in Figure 1) is

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Notice that A(t) < 1 no matter how large t is chosen. We also observe that

The area of the shaded region approaches 1 as t → (see Figure 2), so we say that the area of the infinite region S is equal to 1 and we write

Figure 2

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Using this example as a guide, we define the integral of f over an infinite interval as the limit of integrals over finite intervals.

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Any of the improper integrals in Definition 1 can be

interpreted as an area provided that f is a positive function.

For instance, in case (a) if f(x) ≥ 0 and the integral is convergent, then we define the area of the region S = {(x, y) |x ≥ a, 0 ≤ y ≤ f(x)} in Figure 3 to be

This is appropriate because is the limit as t → of the area under the graph of f from a to t.

Figure 3

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### Example 1

Determine whether the integral is convergent or divergent.

Solution:

According to part (a) of Definition 1, we have

The limit does not exist as a finite number and so the improper integral is divergent.

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Let’s compare the result of Example 1 with the example given at the beginning of this section:

Figure 4 Figure 5

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### Type 1: Infinite Intervals

Geometrically, this says that although the curves y = 1/x2 and y = 1/x look very similar for x > 0, the region under

y = 1/x2 to the right of x = 1 (the shaded region in Figure 4) has finite area whereas the corresponding region under y = 1/x (in Figure 5) has infinite area. Note that both 1/x2 and 1/x approach 0 as x → but 1/x2 approaches 0 faster than 1/x. The values of 1/x don’t decrease fast enough for its integral to have a finite value.

We summarize this as follows:

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### Type 2: Discontinuous Integrands

Suppose that f is a positive continuous function defined on a finite interval [a, b) but has a vertical asymptote at b.

Let S be the unbounded region under the graph of f and above the x-axis between a and b. (For Type 1 integrals, the regions extended indefinitely in a horizontal direction.

Here the region is infinite in a vertical direction.)

The area of the part of S between a and t (the shaded region in Figure 7) is

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### Type 2: Discontinuous Integrands

If it happens that A(t) approaches a definite number A as t → b, then we say that the area of the region S is A and we write

We use this equation to define an improper integral of Type 2 even when f is not a positive function, no matter what type of discontinuity f has at b.

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### Example 5

Find

Solution:

We note first that the given integral is improper because has the vertical asymptote x = 2.

Since the infinite discontinuity occurs at the left endpoint of [2, 5], we use part (b) of Definition 3:

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### Example 5 – Solution

Thus the given improper integral is convergent and, since the integrand is positive, we can interpret the value of the integral as the area of the shaded region in Figure 10.

cont’d

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### A Comparison Test for Improper Integrals

Sometimes it is impossible to find the exact value of an improper integral and yet it is important to know whether it is convergent or divergent.

In such cases the following theorem is useful. Although we state it for Type 1 integrals, a similar theorem is true for

Type 2 integrals.

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### A Comparison Test for Improper Integrals

We omit the proof of the Comparison Theorem, but Figure 12 makes it seem plausible.

If the area under the top curve y = f(x) is finite, then so is the area under the bottom curve y = g(x).

Figure 12

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### A Comparison Test for Improper Integrals

If the area under y = g(x) is infinite, then so is the area

under y = f(x). [Note that the reverse is not necessarily true:

If is convergent, may or may not be convergent, and if is divergent, may or may not be divergent.]

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### Example 9

Show that is convergent.

Solution:

We can’t evaluate the integral directly because the antiderivative of is not an elementary function.

We write

and observe that the first integral on the right-hand side is just an ordinary definite integral.

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In the second integral we use the fact that for x ≥ 1 we have x2 ≥ x, so –x2 ≤ –x and therefore ≤ e–x. (See Figure 13.) The integral of e–x is easy to evaluate:

Figure 13

cont’d

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### Example 9 – Solution

Therefore, taking f(x) = e–x and g(x) = in the Comparison Theorem, we see that is convergent.

It follows that is convergent.

cont’d

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