Calculus How To

Integrable Function & Non Integrable Function

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What is an Integrable Function?

Generally speaking, if a function is integrable, all it means is that the integral is well defined and continuous.

Functions that are easily integrable include continuous functions, power functions, piecewise continuous functions, and monotonic functions.

Some types of functions with discontinuities , turns or other odd behavior may also be integrable— depending on the type and number of discontinuity. If the discontinuity is removable, then that function is still integrable. For example, the absolute value function y = |x| is integrable, even though x = 0 is undefined.

integrable function

An absolute value function is integrable, despite the sharp turn.

What is a Non Integrable Function?

Non integrable functions do not have well defined integrals. These may involve discontinuities that aren’t removable, like Oscillating Discontinuities or Essential Discontinuities (Second Type or Irremovable Discontinuity). Non integrable functions also include any function that jumps around too much, as well as any function that results in an integral with an infinite area.

Two simple functions that are non integrable are y = 1/x for the interval [0, b] and y = 1/x2 for any interval containing 0.

non integrable function

The function y = 1/x is not integrable over [0, b] because of the vertical asymptote at x = 0. This makes the area under the curve infinite.

When mathematicians talk about integrable functions, they usually mean in the sense of Riemann Integrals. A Riemann integral is the “usual” type of integration you come across in elementary calculus classes. It’s the idea of creating infinitely small numbers of rectangles under a curve. However, there is another type of integration that can integrate even the most pathological of functions: Lebesgue Integration. This is usually tackled in more advanced mathematics classes.


Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. Functions integrable and not. Retrieved November 23, 2019 from:
Bietcher, (2010). Integration – A Functional Approach. Springer Science & Business Media.

Stephanie Glen. "Integrable Function & Non Integrable Function" From Calculus for the rest of us!

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