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Branch of calculus concerned with the theory and applications of integrals. While differential calculus focuses on rates of change, such as slopes of tangent lines and velocities, integral calculus deals with total size or value, such as lengths, areas, and volumes. The two branches are connected by the fundamental theorem of calculus, which shows how a definite integral is calculated by using its antiderivative (a function whose rate of change, or derivative, equals the function being integrated). For example, integrating a velocity function yields a distance function, which enables the distance traveled by an object over an interval of time to be calculated. As a result, much of integral calculus deals with the derivation of formulas for finding antiderivatives. The great utility of the subject emanates from its use in solving differential equations.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on integral calculus, visit Britannica.com.