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Integration: Sines, Cosines and U-Substitution

Q:  ∫cos5(x)sin4(x)dx

A: Some books have tables and charts to memorize on how to integrate these types of problems: what to do if the power is odd on one but even on the other, etc (called reduction formulas)… Boring… Who has time, space or desire to memorize formulas? Let’s solve the damn problem.

First, I see that there are sines and cosines, and we know that one is the derivative of the other (more or less).  This tells me that u-substitution is likely going to come up.

Remember: whenever you see a function and its derivative present in a problem, you want to be thinking u-substitution!

I also know that by using the Pythagorean Identity, sin2(x)+cos2(x)=1, I can convert an “even number” of cosines to sines and vice versa.

So, now that I know u-substitution is most likely, I want to leave behind one function to be “du” and the rest should be converted to “u’s”.

Cosine is literally the “odd man out”.  There is an odd number of cosines, so I will leave one cosine behind to eventually serve as du and convert the rest like so:

∫cos5(x)sin4(x)dx

∫cos(x)*cos4(x)*sin4(x)dx

∫cos(x)*(cos2(x))2*sin4(x)dx

∫cos(x)*(1-sin2(x))2*sin4(x)dx

Now, I can do a fairly clean u-substitution:

Let u = sin(x)

Then, du = cos(x)dx

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Exact Values for Trig Functions

If you are in trigonometry or pre-calculus, the below is something you want to memorize, write down, something! Here is a table with the “exact values” for the important angles we use:

 Degrees Radians sin(x) cos(x) tan(x) 0 (or 360) 0 (or 2π) 0 1 0 30 π/6 1/2 √(3)/2 √(3)/3 45 π/4 √(2)/2 √(2)/2 1 60 π/3 √(3)/2 1/2 √(3) 90 π/2 1 0 Undefined 180 π 0 -1 0 270 3π/2 -1 0 Undefined

Remember:  If you ever need to find csc, sec, or cot values, they are just reciprocals.  Csc is the reciprocal of sin, sec is the reciprocal of cos, and cot is the reciprocal of tan.