MATH101 April 2009
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Question 01 (f)

What is the average value of $\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \right$ over the interval $0\leq \theta \leq \pi /2$ ?

Make sure you understand the problem fully: What is the question asking you to do? Are there specific conditions or constraints that you should take note of? How will you know if your answer is correct from your work only? Can you rephrase the question in your own words in a way that makes sense to you?

If you are stuck, check the hints below. Read the first one and consider it for a while. Does it give you a new idea on how to approach the problem? If so, try it! If after a while you are still stuck, go for the next hint.

Hint 1

Where is $\sin \theta \cos \theta$ equal to zero? Where is it positive? Where is it negative?

Hint 2

Try using symmetry.

Hint 3

$\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \right$ is symmetric about $\theta =\pi /4$.

Checking a solution serves two purposes: helping you if, after having used all the hints, you still are stuck on the problem; or if you have solved the problem and would like to check your work.
 If you are stuck on a problem: Read the solution slowly and as soon as you feel you could finish the problem on your own, hide it and work on the problem. Come back later to the solution if you are stuck or if you want to check your work.
 If you want to check your work: Don't only focus on the answer, problems are mostly marked for the work you do, make sure you understand all the steps that were required to complete the problem and see if you made mistakes or forgot some aspects. Your goal is to check that your mental process was correct, not only the result.

Solution 1

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(The following solution does not take advantage of the symmetry about $\theta =\pi /4$. Solution 2 does.)
The average value of $\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \right$ over the interval $0\leq \theta \leq \pi /2$ is
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}={\frac {1}{\pi /2}}\int _{0}^{\pi /2}\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \rightd\theta .\end{aligned}}$
In order to simplify the absolute value, we split the domain of integration into regions where $\sin \theta \cos \theta$ is positive and negative. Then
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}&={\frac {2}{\pi }}\left(\int _{0}^{\pi /4}(\cos \theta \sin \theta )d\theta +\int _{\pi /4}^{\pi /2}(\sin \theta \cos \theta )d\theta \right)\\&={\frac {2}{\pi }}\left(\left[\sin \theta +\cos \theta \right]_{0}^{\pi /4}+\left[\cos \theta \sin \theta \right]_{\pi /4}^{\pi /2}\right)\\&={\frac {2}{\pi }}\left({\frac {1}{\sqrt {2}}}+{\frac {1}{\sqrt {2}}}0101+{\frac {1}{\sqrt {2}}}+{\frac {1}{\sqrt {2}}}\right)\\&={\frac {2}{\pi }}\left({\frac {4}{\sqrt {2}}}2\right)\\&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\left({\sqrt {2}}1\right)\end{aligned}}$

Solution 2

Found a typo? Is this solution unclear? Let us know here. Please rate my easiness! It's quick and helps everyone guide their studies.
(The following solution takes advantage of symmetry about $\theta =\pi /4$.)
The average value of $\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \right$ over the interval $0\leq \theta \leq \pi /2$ is
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}={\frac {1}{\pi /2}}\int _{0}^{\pi /2}\left\sin \theta \cos \theta \rightd\theta .\end{aligned}}$
If we draw a picture of the integrand, we can see that it is symmetric about $\theta =\pi /4$. Motivated by this symmetry, we make a change of variables $\theta =\pi /4+x$.
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}={\frac {2}{\pi }}\int _{\pi /4}^{\pi /4}\left\sin(\pi /4+x)\cos(\pi /4+x)\rightdx.\end{aligned}}$
Now, this integrand is symmetric about the origin since
${\begin{aligned}\left\sin(\pi /4+x)\cos(\pi /4+x)\right&=\left\cos(\pi /2(\pi /4+x))\sin(\pi /2(\pi /4+x))\right\\&=\left\cos(\pi /4x)\sin(\pi /4x)\right\\&=\left\sin(\pi /4x)\cos(\pi /4x)\right.\end{aligned}}$
Hence,
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}={\frac {2}{\pi }}\cdot 2\int _{0}^{\pi /4}\left\sin(\pi /4+x)\cos(\pi /4+x)\rightdx.\end{aligned}}$
Since $\sin(\pi /4+x)\cos(\pi /4+x)$ is positive for $0\leq x\leq \pi /4$,
${\begin{aligned}f_{ave}&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\int _{0}^{\pi /4}\left(\sin(\pi /4+x)\cos(\pi /4+x)\right)dx\\&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\left[\cos(\pi /4+x)\sin(\pi /4+x)\right]_{0}^{\pi /4}\\&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\left(\cos(\pi /2)\sin(\pi /2)+\cos(\pi /4)+\sin(\pi /4)\right)\\&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\left(01+{\frac {2}{\sqrt {2}}}\right)\\&={\frac {4}{\pi }}\left({\sqrt {2}}1\right)\end{aligned}}$

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