# L'Hopital's Rule and The Indeterminate Forms of Limits in Calculus

L'Hopital's theorem allows us to replace a limit problem with another that may be simpler to solve. Several examples are presented along with their solutions and detailed explanations.

## L'Hopital's Theorem

If lim f(x) = 0 and lim g(x) = 0 and if lim [ f '(x) / g '(x) ] has a finite value L , or is of the form + ? or - ?, then where lim stands for limx?a, limx?a+, limx?a-, limx?+ ? or limx? - ?.
f '(x) and g '(x) are the derivatives of f(x) and g(x) respectively.

## Examples with Detailed Solutions

### Example 1

Find the limit limx?0 sin x / x

Solution to Example 1:
Since
limx?0 sin x = 0
and
limx?0 x = 0
L'Hopital's rule can be used to evalute the above limit as follows
limx?0 sin x / x = limx?0 [ d ( sin x ) / dx ] / [ d ( x ) / dx ]
= limx?0 cos x / 1 = 1

### Example 2

Find the limit limx?0 ( e x - 1 ) / x

Solution to Example 2:
Note that
limx?0 ( e x - 1 ) = 0
and
limx?0 x = 0
We can use L'Hopital's rule to calculate the given limit as follows
limx?0 ( e x - 1 ) / x = limx?0 [ d ( e x - 1 ) / dx ] / [ d ( x ) / dx ]
= limx?0 e x / 1 = 1

### Example 3

Find the limit limx?1 ( x 2 - 1 ) / (x - 1)

Solution to Example 3:
Since the limit of the numerator
limx?1 ( x 2 - 1 ) = 0
and that of the denominator
limx?1 x - 1 = 0
are both equal to zero, we can use L'Hopital's rule to calculate limit
limx?1 ( x 2 - 1 ) / (x - 1) = limx?1 [ d ( x 2 - 1 ) / dx ] / [ d ( x - 1 ) / dx ]
= limx?1 2 x / 1 = 2
Note that the same limit may be calculated by first factoring as follows
limx?1 ( x 2 - 1 ) / (x - 1)
= limx?1 ( x - 1 )(x + 1) / (x - 1) =
= limx?1 (x + 1) / 1 = 2

### Example 4

Find the limit limx?2 ln(x - 1 ) / (x - 2)

Solution to Example 4:
Limit of numerator
limx?2 ln(x - 1) = 0
Limit of denominator
limx?2 x - 1 = 0
Both limits are equal to zero, L'Hopital's rule may be used
limx?2 ln(x - 1) / (x - 2) = limx?2 [ d ( ln(x - 1) ) / dx ] / [ d ( x - 2 ) / dx ]
= limx?2 [ 1 / (x-1) ] / 1 = 1

### Example 5

Find the limit limx?0 (1 - cos x ) / 6 x 2

Solution to Example 5:
Limit of numerator and denominator
limx?0 1 - cos x = 0
limx?0 6 x 2 = 0
L'Hopital's rule may be used
limx?0 (1 - cos x ) / 6 x 2 = limx?0 [ sin x ] / [ 12 x ]
The new limit is also indeterminate 0/0 and we may apply L'Hopital's theorem a second time
limx?0 (1 - cos x ) / 6 x 2 = limx?0 [ sin x ] / [ 12 x ]
= limx?0 cos x / 12 = 1 / 12

## Exercises

Find the limits
1. limx?0 (sin 4x / sin 2x)
2. limx?0 tan x / x
3. limx?1 ln x / (3x - 3)
4. limx?0 ( e x - 1 ) / sin 2 x

1. 2
2. 1
3. 1 / 3
4. 1 / 2