# 5. The Trapezoidal Rule

by M. Bourne

Problem: Find

`int_0^1sqrt(x^2+1)\ dx`

We put `u = x^2+ 1` then `du = 2x\ dx`.

But the question **does not contain an `x\ dx` **

**term**so we cannot solve it using any of the integration methods we have met so far.

We need to use **numerical approaches.** (This is usually how software like
Mathcad or graphics calculators perform definite integrals).

We can use one of two methods:

- Trapezoidal rule
- Simpson's Rule (in the next section: 6. Simpson's Rule)

## The Trapezoidal Rule

We saw the basic idea in our first attempt at solving the area under the arches problem earlier.

Instead of using rectangles as we did in the arches problem, we'll use **trapezoids**
(trapeziums) and we'll find that it gives a better approximation to the area.

Recall that we write "Δ*x*" to mean "a small change in *x*".

Now, the area of a trapezoid (trapezium) is given by:

`"Area"=h/2(p+q)`

So the approximate area under the curve is found by adding the
area of the trapezoids. (Our trapezoids are rotated 90° so that their new base is actually the height. So *h* = Δ*x*.)

`"Area"~~1/2(y_0+y_1)Deltax+1/2(y_1+y_2)Deltax+1/2(y_2+y_3)Deltax+...`

We can simplify this to give us the **Trapezoidal Rule,**
for `n`* *trapezoids**:**

`"Area"~~Deltax((y_0)/2+y_1+y_2+y_3+...+(y_n)/2)`

To find `Δx` for the area from `x=a` to `x=b`, we use:

`Deltax=(b-a)/n`

and we also need

`y_0= f(a)`

`y_1= f(a + Δx)`

`y_2= f(a + 2Δx)`

`…`

`y_n= f(b)`

### Note

- We get a better approximation if we take more trapezoids [up to a limit!].
- The more trapezoids we take, `Delta x` will tend to `0`, that is, `Δx → 0.`
- We can write (if the curve is above the
*x*-axis only between `x=a` and `x=b`):

`"Area"=int_a^b f(x)dx~~Deltax((y_0)/2+y_1+...+(y_n)/2)`

### Exercise

Using `n= 5`, approximate the integral:

`int_0^1sqrt(x^2+1)\ dx`

Didn't find what you are looking for on this page? Try **search**:

### Online Algebra Solver

This algebra solver can solve a wide range of math problems. (Please be patient while it loads.)

Go to: Online algebra solver

### Ready for a break?

Play a math game.

(Well, not really a math game, but each game was made using math...)

### The IntMath Newsletter

Sign up for the free **IntMath Newsletter**. Get math study tips, information, news and updates each fortnight. Join thousands of satisfied students, teachers and parents!

### Share IntMath!

### Short URL for this Page

Save typing! You can use this URL to reach this page:

intmath.com/trapezoidal

### Calculus Lessons on DVD

Easy to understand calculus lessons on DVD. See samples before you commit.

More info: Calculus videos