Estimate Areas under Graphs

Estimate Areas under Graphs

When a graph shows velocity against time, the area under the graph between two points gives the distance travelled. An estimate of the area under the curve can be obtained by drawing a #chord# between the two points to obtain a trapezium (or, in some cases, a triangle).

Example 1

A train accelerates away from a station as shown on the graph. After 5 seconds, the velocity of the train is 5.1m s-1. Estimate the distance covered by the train.

The approximate area under a graph is given by the triangle between seconds = 0 and seconds = 5. The area is given by frac(1)(2) xx 5 xx 5.1 = 12.75m.

If the speed at 2.5 seconds is 1.2ms-1, then the approximate area under the graph is given by frac(1)(2) xx 1.2 xx 2.5 + frac(1)(2) xx (1.2 + 5.1) xx 2.5
=1.5 + 7.75 = 9.25