Statistics How To

How to Find Velocity with Calculus

Calculus > How to find Velocity

As calculus is the mathematical study of rates of change, and velocity is the measure of the change in position of an object with respect to time, the two come in contact often. Finding the velocity of simple functions can be done without the use of calculus. However, when the graph of a function is curved the velocity is not constant, and performing calculus operations becomes necessary.
You can find the velocity of an object by manipulating two different functions. If you are given the formula for the distance moved by the object, you can take the derivative and reach the velocity formula. If you are given the formula for the object’s acceleration, you can find the integral and again come to the velocity.

Find velocity given displacement (distance moved by the object)

Step 1: In order to get from the displacement to the velocity, you will take the derivative of the displacement with respect to time. First, set up your equation.
x(t) = 4t2+4t+4
dx/dt = d/dt 4t2+4t+4 = v(t)
Step 2: Solve for the derivative. Here you can use the Power Rule, addition rule, and rule for derivative of constants.
d/dt 4t2+4t+4 = 8t+4 = v(t)
That’s it!
Tip: The velocity is not constant over time, so t makes an appearance. A constant velocity would not have the variable in it, and it would also have an acceleration of 0.

Find velocity given acceleration.

Step 1: Set up the equation.
a(t) = 10t + 5
v(t) = ∫ a(t) dt = ∫ 10t+5 dt
Step 2: Perform integration on a(t). Integration is a somewhat advanced calculus method, so be sure to take a look at articles specifically detailing it if you are unfamiliar with it.
∫ a(t) dt = ∫ 10t+5 dt = 5t2+5t + c = v(t)

That’s how to find velocity!

Note: c is a constant of integration that can not be determined without more information. If you are supplied the initial velocity in this example, you can find the constant by setting time equal to 0. Using the above for example:
v(0)= 5(02) + 5(0) + c = c = v(0)


If you prefer an online interactive environment to learn R and statistics, this free R Tutorial by Datacamp is a great way to get started. If you're are somewhat comfortable with R and are interested in going deeper into Statistics, try this Statistics with R track.

Comments are now closed for this post. Need help or want to post a correction? Please post a comment on our Facebook page and I'll do my best to help!
How to Find Velocity with Calculus was last modified: October 24th, 2017 by Stephanie