Unfair first-year calculus problems, with applications

  • Date: 06/04/2009
Dr Matthew Greenberg, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary

Calgary Place Tower (Shell)


A typical first-year calculus problem is the evaluation of


integral of 1 / sqrt(1 - x^2)


The answer is arcsin(x). What about evaluating


Integral of 1 / sqrt(1-x^4)


This problem is unfair in the context of first-year calculus because the answer is not expressible algebraically in terms of the “basic” transcendental functions (exp, log, sin, cos, arcsin, …). But the fundamental theorem of calculus says that this problem does have an answer. This answer (actually, its inverse) is part of the family of elliptic functions. Over sandwiches and pop, we will discuss the beautiful algebra and geometry associated with elliptic functions and take a quick tour through some of the many areas in which elliptic functions are applied.


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Calgary Place Tower I (330 5th Avenue SW), Room 1116 and 1118.

Other Information: 

The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences is grateful for the support of Shell Canada Limited, Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, and the University of Calgary for their support of this series of lectures.

Sponsor:  pimsshellucal