# College Math Teaching

## March 12, 2018

### And I embarrass myself….integrate right over a couple of poles…

Filed under: advanced mathematics, analysis, calculus, complex variables, integrals — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 9:43 pm

I didn’t have the best day Thursday; I was very sick (felt as if I had been in a boxing match..chills, aches, etc.) but was good to go on Friday (no cough, etc.)

So I walk into my complex variables class seriously under prepared for the lesson but decide to tackle the integral $\int^{\pi}_0 \frac{1}{1+sin^2(t)} dt$

Of course, you know the easy way to do this, right? $\int^{\pi}_0 \frac{1}{1+sin^2(t)} dt =\frac{1}{2} \int^{2\pi}_0 \frac{1}{1+sin^2(t)} dt$ and evaluate the latter integral as follows: $sin(t) = \frac{1}{2i}(z-\frac{1}{z}), dt = \frac{dz}{iz}$ (this follows from restricting $z$ to the unit circle $|z| =1$ and setting $z = e^{it} \rightarrow dz = ie^{it}dt$ and then obtaining a rational function of $z$ which has isolated poles inside (and off of) the unit circle and then using the residue theorem to evaluate.

So $1+sin^2(t) \rightarrow 1+\frac{-1}{4}(z^2 -2 + \frac{1}{z^2}) = \frac{1}{4}(-z^2 + 6 -\frac{1}{z^2})$ And then the integral is transformed to: $\frac{1}{2}\frac{1}{i}(-4)\int_{|z|=1}\frac{dz}{z^3 -6z +\frac{1}{z}} =2i \int_{|z|=1}\frac{zdz}{z^4 -6z^2 +1}$

Now the denominator factors: $(z^2 -3)^2 -8$ which means $z^2 = 3 - \sqrt{8}, z^2 = 3+ \sqrt{8}$ but only the roots $z = \pm \sqrt{3 - \sqrt{8}}$ lie inside the unit circle.
Let $w = \sqrt{3 - \sqrt{8}}$

Write: $\frac{z}{z^4 -6z^2 +1} = \frac{\frac{z}{((z^2 -(3 + \sqrt{8})}}{(z-w)(z+w)}$

Now calculate: $\frac{\frac{w}{((w^2 -(3 + \sqrt{8})}}{(2w)} = \frac{1}{2} \frac{-1}{2 \sqrt{8}}$ and $\frac{\frac{-w}{((w^2 -(3 + \sqrt{8})}}{(-2w)} = \frac{1}{2} \frac{-1}{2 \sqrt{8}}$

Adding we get $\frac{-1}{2 \sqrt{8}}$ so by Cauchy’s theorem $2i \int_{|z|=1}\frac{zdz}{z^4 -6z^2 +1} = 2i 2 \pi i \frac{-1}{2 \sqrt{8}} = \frac{2 \pi}{\sqrt{8}}=\frac{\pi}{\sqrt{2}}$

Ok…that is fine as far as it goes and correct. But what stumped me: suppose I did not evaluate $\int^{2\pi}_0 \frac{1}{1+sin^2(t)} dt$ and divide by two but instead just went with:

\$latex $\int^{\pi}_0 \frac{1}{1+sin^2(t)} dt \rightarrow i \int_{\gamma}\frac{zdz}{z^4 -6z^2 +1}$ where $\gamma$ is the upper half of $|z| = 1$? Well, $\frac{z}{z^4 -6z^2 +1}$ has a primitive away from those poles so isn’t this just $i \int^{-1}_{1}\frac{zdz}{z^4 -6z^2 +1}$, right?

So why not just integrate along the x-axis to obtain $i \int^{-1}_{1}\frac{xdx}{x^4 -6x^2 +1} = 0$ because the integrand is an odd function?

This drove me crazy. Until I realized…the poles….were…on…the…real…axis. ….my goodness, how stupid could I possibly be???

To the student who might not have followed my point: let $\gamma$ be the upper half of the circle $|z|=1$ taken in the standard direction and $\int_{\gamma} \frac{1}{z} dz = i \pi$ if you do this property (hint: set $z(t) = e^{it}, dz = ie^{it}, t \in [0, \pi]$. Now attempt to integrate from 1 to -1 along the real axis. What goes wrong? What goes wrong is exactly what I missed in the above example.