# How to Calculate Average Value of a Function using Definite Integrals Contributed by: In this section, we will learn about:
Applying integration to find out the average value of a function.
1. 6
APPLICATIONS OF INTEGRATION
2. APPLICATIONS OF INTEGRATION
6.5
Average Value
of a Function
In this section, we will learn about:
Applying integration to find out
the average value of a function.
3. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
It is easy to calculate the average
value of finitely many numbers
y1, y2 , . . . , yn :
y1 + y2 + ⋅⋅⋅+ yn
yave =
n
4. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
However, how do we compute the
average temperature during a day if
are possible?
5. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
This figure shows the graph of a
temperature function T(t), where:
 t is measured in hours
 T in °C
 Tave , a guess at the average temperature
6. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
In general, let’s try to compute
the average value of a function
y = f(x), a ≤ x ≤ b.
7. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
We start by dividing the interval [a, b]
into n equal subintervals, each with
length Δx = (b −a ) / n .
8. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
Then, we choose points x1*, . . . , xn* in
successive subintervals and calculate the
average of the numbers f(xi*), . . . , f(xn*):
f ( xi *) + ⋅⋅⋅+ f ( xn *)
n
 For example, if f represents a temperature function
and n = 24, then we take temperature readings every
hour and average them.
9. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
Since ∆x = (b – a) / n, we can write
n = (b – a) / ∆x and the average value
f ( x1 *) + ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ + f ( xn *)
b−a
Δx
1
= [ f ( x1 *)Δx + ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ + f ( xn *)Δx ]
b−a
n
1
= ∑
b − a i =1
f ( xi *)Δx
10. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
If we let n increase, we would be
computing the average value of a large
number of closely spaced values.
 For example, we would be averaging temperature
readings taken every minute or even every second.
11. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
By the definition of a definite integral,
the limiting value is:
1 n 1 b
lim ∑ f ( xi *)Δx = ∫ f ( x)dx
n → ∞ b −a b −a a
i =1
12. AVERAGE VALUE OF A FUNCTION
So, we define the average value of f
on the interval [a, b] as:
1 b
f ave = ∫ f ( x)dx
b −a a
13. AVERAGE VALUE Example 1
Find the average value of
the function f(x) = 1 + x2 on
the interval [-1, 2].
14. AVERAGE VALUE Example 1
With a = -1 and b = 2,
we have:
1 b
f ave =
b−a a ∫ f ( x) dx
1 2
= ∫
2 − (−1) −1
(1 + x ) dx
2
2
1⎡ x ⎤ 3
= ⎢x + ⎥ = 2
3⎣ 3 ⎦−1
15. AVERAGE VALUE
If T(t) is the temperature at time t,
we might wonder if there is a specific time
when the temperature is the same as
the average temperature.
16. AVERAGE VALUE
For the temperature function graphed here,
we see that there are two such times––just
before noon and just before midnight.
17. AVERAGE VALUE
In general, is there a number c at which
the value of a function f is exactly equal
to the average value of the function—that is,
f(c) = fave?
18. AVERAGE VALUE
The mean value theorem for
integrals states that this is true
for continuous functions.
19. MEAN VALUE THEOREM
If f is continuous on [a, b], then there exists
a number c in [a, b] such that
1 b
f (c) = f ave = ∫ f ( x) dx
b −a a
that is,
b
∫a
f ( x) dx = f (c )(b − a )
20. MEAN VALUE THEOREM
The Mean Value Theorem for Integrals is
a consequence of the Mean Value Theorem
for derivatives and the Fundamental Theorem
of Calculus.
21. MEAN VALUE THEOREM
The geometric interpretation of the Mean
Value Theorem for Integrals is as follows.
 For ‘positive’ functions f, there is a number c such that
the rectangle with base [a, b] and height f(c) has
the same area as the region under the graph of f
from a to b.
22. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 2
Since f(x) = 1 + x2 is continuous on the
interval [-1, 2], the Mean Value Theorem for
Integrals states there is a number c in [-1, 2]
such that:
2
∫ (1 + x ) dx =
2
f (c)[2 − (−1)]
−1
23. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 2
In this particular case, we can
find c explicitly.
 From Example 1, we know that fave = 2.
 So, the value of c satisfies f(c) = fave = 2.
 Therefore, 1 + c2 = 2.
 Thus, c2 = 1.
24. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 2
So, in this case, there happen to be
two numbers c = ±1 in the interval [1, 2]
that work in the Mean Value Theorem for
25. MEAN VALUE THEOREM
Examples 1 and 2 are illustrated
26. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 3
Show that the average velocity of a car
over a time interval [t1, t2] is the same
as the average of its velocities during
the trip.
27. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 3
If s(t) is the displacement of the car at time t,
then by definition, the average velocity of
the car over the interval is:
Δs s (t2 ) −s (t1 )
=
Δt t2 −t1
28. MEAN VALUE THEOREM Example 3
On the other hand, the average value of the
velocity function on the interval is:
1 t2 1 t2
vave =
t2 − t1 ∫
t1
v(t ) dt =
t2 − t1 ∫
t 1
s '(t ) dt
1
= [s(t2 ) − s(t1 )] (by the Net Change Theorem )
t2 − t1
s (t2 ) − s (t1 )
= = average velocity
t2 − t1