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SIMPSONS First Rule

Most mono-hull forms for water craft are symmetric about the vessels centerplane (this
is not always so, as there are some craft that are not symmetric because of specific needs
for propulsion or other operational requirements). Because of the form symmetry, it has
been traditional to draw vessel lines for only half of the body (vessel half-breadths or
offsets are then taken from the lines). For this reason, the properties of a hull form are
typically computed for the half-body and then doubled. This is included in the
computation process as we will see below. Simpsons First Rule is frequently used
because it is quite accurate for typical fair hull form shapes and it can be readily applied
to shapes that have significant variations in the shape such as when bulbs or other
appendages are added or subtracted from the base form.
The development of Simpons First Rule is as follows:
If a curve, Y = F(X) is defined by its ordinates Y0, Y1, and Y2 at locations (abscissa) X0,
X1, and X2 that are equally spaced, S, and we want to determine the area under the curve,
we can make an assumption that the function (curve) may be reasonably represented by a
constant plus a linearly varying amount, plus an amount that varies as the second degree
of the abscissa. That is, it is assumed that the function (curve) can be represented by the
equation Y = A + BX + CX2, a second degree parabola. We can then integrate this
assumed function over the distance 2S, (X2-X0), and determine the area under that curve.
Evaluating the equation coefficients in terms of the ordinates, we find that Y0 = A, Y1 = A
+ BS + CS2, and Y2 = A + 2BS + 4CS2. We can also assume that the area can be defined
as a function of the ordinates as Area = k0Y0 + k1Y1 + k2Y2 . This is what was done to
derive the Simpsons First Rule coefficients. This derivation is given on page 24 of
Volume I, Principles of Naval Architecture, Edited by E.V. Lewis and published by
SNAME in 1988. Most textbooks will have a similar derivation. It is shown in the text
that when the assumed function is integrated and evaluated at the three coordinate
locations, X0, X1, X2, Area = 2AS +2BS2 + 8/3CS3 and you end up with an expression for
the area under the curve.

Setting the two expressions for the area equal and setting the coefficients equal to each
other we obtain k0 = S/3, k1 = 4S/3 and k2 = S/3.
We can factor out an S/3 and obtain the area under the curve as:
Area = (S/3) (Y0 + 4Y1 + Y2). We then sum the areas for each of the segments of the
distribution of interest. Typically we break-up a ships waterplane into ten or twenty
equal sections along its length and take the offsets (half-breadths) of the hull form as the
basis for the calculations. When the area under the half-breadth curve is computed, it is
necessary to double the result to obtain the full form value. We would then have, for the
full form: Area = (2S/3)(Y0 + 4Y1 + Y3). We can then add elements for each segment to
obtain the total vaklues we seek, as below.
In applying this rule, it is important to note that the closer together the ordinates are
spaced, the more accurate the assumptions are, but the more curve elements there will be
to calculate. Therefore, when the curve has but little change in shape, the ordinates can
be widely spaced, such as in the region of a ships midbody sections, while in the bow
and stern sections where there are significant changes in shape the ordinates need to be
more closely spaced.
If you have double spacing in a vessels midbody, the multipliers need to be doubled up,
while if you have half- spaces in the bow or stern sections, the multipliers need to be cut
in half as noted below:
Stations:
Multiplier:

Half-Spaces
0

Summed:

Stations:
Multiplier:

Half-Spaces
0

Summed

3/2

2
4

Full Spaces
1
2

1
4
3/2

Full Spaces
3
4
1
1

1
1

1
1

etc.

etc.

Double Spaces
5

etc.

1
2

etc.

etc.

In all cases, you are summing the contributions of two equally spaced area segments that
are defined by three ordinates, one at either end of the segment and another in the middle.
We must remember then that there are always an even number of spaces in the scheme.

In the case of waterplane offsets, where you are using only half-breadths as ordinates, it is
important to remember that the answer only gives half of the water plane area, as noted
above, etc.
It it important to understand that this procedure can be applied to curves that are
generated for many purposes. For instance, if the curve represents areas, such as for
transverse sections of a body, the integrated value represents the volume of the body.
Similarly, it the curve represents the first or second moment of an ordinate, the integrated
value represents the first or second moment of the area represented by the ordinates.
Using this procedure, we are able to determine the many properties of a body, such as a
Waterplane Centroid, or a Waterplane Moment of Inertia. By taking into consideration
the unsymmetric character of a hull form, the similar procedure can be used to determine
similar characteristics.
I hope this is helpful. If further explanation is needed, just ask.