Mathematics in chemistry: Indeterminate forms and their meaning

Manuel A.P. Segurado, Margarida F.B. Silva, Rita Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The mathematical language and its tools are complementary to the formalism in chemistry, in particular at an advanced level. It is thus crucial, for its understanding, that students acquire a solid knowledge in Calculus and that they know how to apply it. The frequent occurrence of indeterminate forms in multiple areas, particularly in Physical Chemistry, justifies the need to properly understand the limiting process in such cases. This article emphasizes the importance of the L'Hôpital's rule as a practical tool, although often neglected, to obtain the more common indeterminate limits, through the use of some specific examples as the radioactive decay, spectrophotometric error, Planck's radiation law, second-order kinetics, or consecutive reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-679
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Applied Mathematics

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