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Areas of Plane

Regions Using
Definite
Integrals
JENNIE MAE D. ALONZO
Reporter
Consider a continuous function f. If the graph of y = f(x) over the
interval [a, b] lies entirely above the x-axis, then Z b a f(x) dx gives
the area of the region bounded by the curves y = f(x), the x-axis, and
the vertical lines x = a and x = b. This is illustrated in the figure
below:
EXAMPLE 1: Find the area of the plane region
bounded by y = 3x + 1, x = 1, x = 3, and the x-axis.
This plane region is clearly in the first quadrant of the Cartesian plane
(see figure above) and hence immediately from the previous discussion,
we obtain:

Evaluating the integral and applying the Fundamental Theorem of


Calculus, we get
EXAMPLE 2: Find the area of the plane region bounded
above by y = 1 − |x − 1| and below by the x-axis.
Observe that the line from the point (0, 0) to (1, 1) is given by:
y = 1 − [−(x − 1)] = x
and the line from the point (1, 1) to (0, 2) is given by
y = 1 − (x − 1) = 2 − x.
Clearly, we have two subregions here, Region 1 (R1) which is bounded
above by y = x, and Region 2 (R2) which is bounded above by y = 2 − x.
Hence, the area of the entire plane region is given by:
We now generalize the problem from finding the area of the region bounded
by above by a curve and below by the x-axis to finding the area of a plane
region bounded by several curves (such as the one shown below).

The height or distance between two curves at x is


h = (y-coordinate of the upper curve) - (y-coordinate of the lower curve).
Now, if y = f(x) is the upper curve and y = g(x) is the lower curve, then
h = f(x) − g(x).
EXAMPLE 3: Find the area of the plane region bounded by
the curves y = x 2 −2 and y = x.

We start by finding the points of intersection of the


two curves. Substituting y = x into y = x 2 − 2, we
obtain

x=x2−2
⇒0=x2−x−2
⇒ 0 = (x − 2)(x + 1)
Thus, we have x = 2 or x = −1. When x = 2, y = 2 while when x = −1,
y = −1. Hence, we have the points of intersection (2, 2) and (−1, −1). The
graphs of the two curves, along with their points of intersection, are
shown below.
The function f(x) − g(x) will be x − (x 2 − 2). Our interval is I = [−1, 2] and so a
= −1 and b = 2. Therefore, the area of the plane region is
EXAMPLE 4: Find the area of the plane region bounded by the
curves y = x 2 , x = −1, x = 2, and y = −1.

First, we find the points of intersection of the curves. With respect


to the curves

y = x 2 and x = −1, we have y = (−1)2 = 1.

Hence, these curves intersect at the point (−1, 1). For the curves y =
x 2 and x = 2, we have y = 22 = 4.
Thus, they intersect at the point (2, 4). Now, for the curves x = −1
and y = −1, they intersect at (−1, −1). While for x = 2 and y = −1,
they intersect at (2, −1). The graphs of these curves are shown below
and the required region is shaded.
In the formula for the area of a plane region, the upper curve y = f(x) is
always above the lower curve y = g(x) on [a, b]. Hence, the height of any
vertical line on the region will always have the same length that is given by the
function f(x) − g(x). What if this is not true anymore? Consider the figure:

To the left of x = −1, the upper curve is the part of the parabola located above the x-axis
while the lower curve is the part of the parabola below the x-axis. On the other hand, to the
right of x = 1, the upper curve is the parabola while the lower curve is the line y = x. Hence,
in this case, we need to split the region into subregions in such a way that in each subregion
the difference of the upper and lower curves is the same throughout the subregion.