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Let us take a surface , which is not necessarily coplanar, and divide in up
into (scalar) elements . Then

(75) 
is a surface integral. For instance, the volume of water in a lake of depth
is

(76) 
To evaluate this integral we must split the calculation into two ordinary integrals.
The volume in the strip shown in Fig. 14 is

(77) 
Note that the limits and depend on . The total volume is the sum
over all strips:

(78) 
Of course, the integral can be evaluated by taking the strips the other way around:

(79) 
Interchanging the order of integration is a very powerful and useful trick. But
great care must be taken when evaluating the limits.
Figure 14:

As an example, consider

(80) 
where is shown in Fig. 15.
Suppose that we evaluate the integral first:

(81) 
Let us now evaluate the integral:

(82) 
We can also evaluate the integral by interchanging the order of integration:

(83) 
Figure 15:

In some cases, a surface integral is just the product of two separate integrals.
For instance,

(84) 
where is a unit square. This integral can be written

(85) 
since the limits are both independent of the other variable.
In general, when interchanging the order of integration, the most important part of
the whole problem is getting the limits of integration right. The only foolproof
way of doing this is to draw a diagram.
Next: Vector surface integrals
Up: Vectors
Previous: Vector line integrals
Richard Fitzpatrick
20060202