How to Integrate a Polynomial and Multiply by a Scalar Before Adding the Constant in Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: In mathematical operations involving integration, you might encounter a situation where you need to integrate a polynomial and then multiply the resulting function by a scalar factor, before finally adding an integration constant. Python can streamline this process, and this article provides five different methods for carrying out such a task. For example, if we have a polynomial f(x) = 2x^2, and we want to integrate it and then multiply by 3, the desired output before adding the integration constant would be g(x)=3∫(2x^2)dx.

Method 1: Using SymPy for Symbolic Integration

Method 1 employs the powerful SymPy library for symbolic mathematics in Python. SymPy is capable of performing a wide range of algebraic tasks including integration. After integrating the polynomial symbolically, we then multiply the result by the scalar. The SymPy function integrate() handles integration, while Python’s standard multiplication is used for scaling.

Here’s an example:

from sympy import symbols, integrate

x = symbols('x')
polynomial = 2*x**2
integral = integrate(polynomial, x)
scaled_integral = 3 * integral




This code snippet initializes the symbolic variable x, defines the polynomial, and then symbolically integrates it. The result is then multiplied by the scalar (3 in this case), yielding the scaled integral before addition of any constants.

Method 2: Utilizing NumPy for Numerical Integration

Method 2 makes use of NumPy’s numerical capabilities. Though it mainly deals with numerical integration, we can still implement multiplicative scaling of the integrand function before the actual integration takes place. The NumPy function trapz() or simps() can be used for approximation of integration.

Here’s an example:

import numpy as np

def polynomial(x):
    return 2 * x ** 2

x_values = np.linspace(0, 1, 100)
y_values = 3 * polynomial(x_values)
integral_approx = np.trapz(y_values, x_values)




The code example employs the np.linspace() function to produce a range of x_values. The polynomial function is then scaled by 3 and evaluated at these x_values. Finally, np.trapz() approximates the integral using the trapezoidal rule.

Method 3: Using scipy.integrate Library

Method 3 relies on the scipy.integrate library, which offers more sophisticated techniques for numerical integration. Function quad() from this library is adept for integrating functions of a single variable over a specified interval. Here, we first define a lambda function for the scaled polynomial before integrating it.

Here’s an example:

from scipy.integrate import quad

result, _ = quad(lambda x: 3 * (2 * x ** 2), 0, 1) 



This snippet utilizes the quad() function to integrate a lambda function that represents the scaled polynomial over the interval [0, 1]. The _ is used to discard the second output from quad(), which is an estimate of the error.

Method 4: Custom Integration Function

Method 4 is about creating a custom integration function to manually handle the process of integrating and scaling. This approach gives you full control over the integration routine and can be beneficial if you require specific behavior or modifications that libraries do not directly support.

Here’s an example:

def custom_integrate(polynomial_coefficients, scalar, a, b, n=1000):
    h = (b - a) / float(n)
    integral = 0.0
    for i in range(n):
        integral += polynomial(a + i*h) * h
    return scalar * integral
coefficients = [0, 0, 2]  # Represents 2x^2
scalar = 3

result = custom_integrate(coefficients, scalar, 0, 1)



This custom function performs a very basic numerical integration using the rectangle rule, with the user-defined number of rectangles n. The applying scalar is integrated directly into the function’s operation.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: List Comprehension with Integral Approximation

Method 5 is a concise one-liner that makes use of Python’s list comprehension along with the sum function to approximate the integration after scaling the integrand. It’s quick, elegant, and requires no additional libraries.

Here’s an example:

a, b, n = 0, 1, 1000
h = (b - a) / n
result = sum([3 * (2 * (a + i * h) ** 2) * h for i in range(n)])




The one-liner approximates the integral of the scaled polynomial using a list comprehension to generate the rectangles’ areas and summing them up. This approach is an elegant and concise representation of a numerical integration without resorting to external libraries.


  • Method 1: SymPy. Ideal for symbolic integration. Allows exact results and manipulation of algebraic expressions. Less suitable for large-scale numerical calculations.
  • Method 2: NumPy. Great for numerical computations and integration using arrays. Fast and efficient but provides an approximate result.
  • Method 3: Scipy.integrate. Provides advanced numerical integration capabilities. Better suited for complex integrals and provides error estimates.
  • Method 4: Custom Integration Function. Offers complete control and customization of the integration process. More effort to implement and can be less accurate.
  • Method 5: One-Liner Approximation. Quick and elegant. Suitable for simple integrations with no additional dependencies. May lack precision and control.