Substitution Rule of Integrals: Integral Problems Made Simple

The Substitution Rule, often referred to as u-substitution, is a powerful technique in integral calculus that simplifies the integration process by transforming a complex integral into a simpler one. It is essentially the reverse process of the chain rule used in differentiation.

Substitution Rule of Integrals: Integral Problems Made Simple

The substitution rule is an essential technique in calculus, providing a method to tackle challenging integrals by transforming them into more manageable forms. Mastery of this technique is a valuable skill for solving various types of integral problems.

Definition of the Substitution Rule

  • The basic idea is to replace a part of the integrand (the function to be integrated) and the differential with a new variable and its differential. This substitution makes the integral more straightforward to solve.

How It Works

  1. Choose a Substitution: Identify a part of the integrand, say \( g(x) \), and set a new variable \( u = g(x) \). This part should be chosen such that its derivative \( g'(x) \) also appears in the integrand.
  2. Compute Differential ( du ): Differentiate the substitution equation to find \( du \). That is, \( du = g'(x) dx \).
  3. Rewrite the Integral: Substitute \( u \) and \( du \) into the original integral, replacing all occurrences of \( x \) and \( dx \).
  4. Integrate: Perform the integration with respect to \( u \).
  5. Back-Substitute: Replace \( u \) with the original function \( g(x) \) to get the final result in terms of \( x \).


Suppose you have an integral like \(\int x \cos(x^2) dx\).

  • Set \( u = x^2 \). Then, \( du = 2x dx \).
  • Rearrange \( du \) to find \( x dx = \frac{1}{2} du \).
  • Substitute into the integral to get \(\int \frac{1}{2} \cos(u) du\).
  • Integrate to find \(\frac{1}{2} \sin(u) + C\).
  • Back-substitute \( u \) to get \(\frac{1}{2} \sin(x^2) + C\).


  • Complex Functions: Particularly useful for integrals involving complex functions where direct integration is not straightforward.
  • Trigonometric Integrals: Simplifies integrals involving trigonometric functions.
  • Exponential and Logarithmic Functions: Helps integrate functions involving exponentials and logarithms.


  • Simplifies the integration process.
  • Can be used in a wide range of functions.


  • Finding the right substitution can sometimes be non-intuitive and requires practice.
  • Not all integrals can be solved using u-substitution.

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