Solution Number: 913
Title: Computing Time and Space Integrals
Platform: All Platforms
Applies to: All Products
Versions: All versions
Categories: Physics, Postprocessing
Keywords: time integral time-integral scalar

Problem Description

How do I compute integrals over space or time? What if I want to use the result of these integrals elsewhere in my model?


This is a general description of how to use Integral operators. A more thorough walkthrough on integral operators can be found in this blog post.

Evaluating Integrals

Space Integrals

If you have solved a model and want to calculate a spatial integral of some result, your most convenient option is to right-click Derived Values and select Integration. You can integrate over volumes, surfaces, or lines. On the Settings tab, make a selection, choose or type in the Expression you want to integrate, and click the Evaluate button.

Time Integrals

The timeint operator, timeint(t1,t2,expr), integrates a time dependent expression expr between times t1 and t2. You can use it in any Expression text field in a plot or under Derived Values. There is also a timeavg operator, timeavg(t1,t2,expr) for extracting the time average of the expression between the same times.

If you type timeavg(2,5,T) in the Expression field of a surface plot, the plot will show the local time average of the temperature between 2 and 5 seconds. You can also use expressions such as timeint(0,t,T) in for example a point graph to plot the integral versus time.

Reusing Integrals

Space Integrals

In case you need to use the result of a spatial integration elsewhere in your model, you can make it accessible through Definitions > Component Couplings > Integration. Defining an integral operator intop1 lets you evaluate the integral of an expression expr over a set of domains, boundaries, edges, or points, by entering intop1(expr). The Application Library has plenty of examples of how this works; see for example Automotive Muffler under COMSOL Multiphysics > Acoustics.

Time Integrals

The timeint and timeavg operators are only available during results evaluation. If you need access to a continuously evolving time integral as part of your model, you can introduce it as a new dependent variable, I. Assume that I is defined as the time integral of another quantity u.

Differentiating with respect to time then gives the following ordinary differential equation:

which is the equation to enter in COMSOL. Depending on your need, you can set up an integration of a point or global scalar value (use a Global or Point ODE), or a distributed integration of a field variable (Domain, Boundary, or Edge ODE). For an example, see PID Control, in the Application Library under COMSOL Multiphysics > Multiphysics.


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