Calculus

Separable Differential Equations

(A new question of the week) We received a couple different questions recently about solving differential equations by separation of variables, and why the method is valid. We’ll start with a direct question about it, and then look at an attempt at an alternate perspective using differentials.

Two Integration Puzzlers

Two recent questions (that came to us within two hours) dealt with apparent contradictions in integration. The first seems to give a result of zero that is clearly wrong; the second seems to give two different results for the same integral.

Average Rate of Change of a Function

(A new question of the week) Average rate of change is a topic taught in pre-calculus and calculus courses, primarily as preparation for the derivative, though it has more immediate applications. A recent question asked about when the concept is valid, which I found interesting.

Implicit Differentiation: Explanation, Examples, and a Surprise

In response to a recent request for information about implicit differentiation (hi, Brian!), let’s take a look at that topic. It happens to be distantly related to Friday’s topic, which was about implicitly defined curves. We’ll start with a thorough explanation, and then look at several specific examples, capping it off with a weird one.

The Case of the Disappearing Derivative

(A new question of the week) An interesting question we received in mid-January concerned two implicit derivative problems with an unusual feature: the derivative we are seeking disappears! How do you track down such elusive quarry? Each case is a little different.

Two Inside-Out Limit Problems

(A new question of the week) Limits can be challenging. They can be even more challenging when they require L’Hôpital’s rule or more advanced methods (Maclaurin series), and then are turned inside-out by asking not for the limit itself, but for parameters that will result in a specified limit, or what values of the limit …

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A Geometrical Limit

(A new question of the week) We usually see limits applied to functions in a calculus class. An interesting question from late October deals with a limit in a geometrical construction based on a function. We’ll be seeing how to discover a proof, then several alternative proofs, and finally what the answer means.