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U-Substitution with its types

U-Substitution : Definition, Types and Application!


U-substitution, also known as integration by substitution or the change of variables method, is a powerful technique used in integral calculus to simplify and solve seemingly complex integrals. It works by strategically introducing a new variable, often denoted by “u”, to replace a part of the integral that’s causing difficulty.

The Core Idea:

  • Identify the Villain: Look for a part of the integral that appears difficult to integrate directly. This could be a composite function, a power function with a non-integer exponent, or a trigonometric expression.
  • Introducing the Hero: Define a new variable “u” that cleverly “absorbs” the problematic part. The key is to choose “u” in a way that its derivative, du, relates neatly to the part you want to replace. This often involves recognizing patterns or relationships between the function and its derivative.
  • The Transformation: Rewrite the integral in terms of the new variable “u”. Substitute the chosen “u” for the problematic part, and adjust the differential term (dx) accordingly by multiplying or dividing by the derivative of “u”.
  • Integration and Substitution Back: Integrate the transformed integral (which should now be simpler) using basic integration rules. Finally, substitute back the original variable “u” to express the answer in terms of the original function.


  • There’s no “magic formula” for u substitution. It requires practice, intuition, and recognizing the right opportunities to apply it effectively.
  • While the steps outlined above provide a general framework, the specific way you choose and apply “u” depends on the individual integral you’re facing.

Types of U-Substitution:

While u substitution isn’t formulaic in the sense of having a single equation to apply, there are different approaches and variations you can use depending on the integral you’re tackling. Here’s a breakdown of some common types:

1. Basic u-substitution:

This is the most straightforward approach, where you directly substitute a new variable (“u”) for a recognizable part of the integral and adjust the differential term (dx) accordingly.

This often works well for composite functions (f(g(x))) or power functions with non-integer exponents (x^n).


  • ∫ sin(2x) dx: Substitute u = 2x, du = 2 dx, leading to a simpler integral with sin(u).
  • ∫ √x dx: Substitute u = x^(1/2), du = (1/2)x^(-1/2) dx, resulting in a basic power rule integral.

2. Trigonometric u-substitution:

This involves specific substitutions for common trigonometric functions like sin(x), cos(x), and tan(x), leveraging their derivatives.


  • ∫ cos(x) dx: Substitute u = sin(x), du = cos(x) dx, leading to an integral with u^2.
  • ∫ sec(x) tan(x) dx: Substitute u = sec(x), du = sec(x)tan(x) dx, resulting in an integral with 1 – u^2.

3. Inverse function:

This is used when the function involves an inverse function, like sin^(-1)(x) or e^(x). You substitute for the inverse function itself and utilize its derivative properties.

This approach requires identifying the appropriate inverse function and its derivative.


  • ∫ e^(x^2) dx: Substitute u = x^2, du = 2x dx, resulting in an integral with e^u and adjusting dx by dividing by 2u.

4. Repeated u-substitution:

In some cases, you might need to apply u substitution multiple times within the same integral to simplify it further.

This involves carefully choosing nested substitutions and keeping track of variable changes at each step.

5. Integration by parts with u substitution:

This combines u substitution with integration by parts, choosing “u” and “dv” strategically to simplify the integration process.

It requires understanding both techniques and recognizing suitable opportunities to combine them.

Remember, the key to mastering u substitution is practice and recognizing patterns. Experiment with different “u” choices, analyze function derivatives and don’t hesitate to consult resources or ask for help when needed. By understanding the core principles and practicing diverse types, you’ll unlock the power of u-substitution to conquer even challenging integrals!

U-Substitution Calculator:

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