Invented Calculus

Throughout history, there have been a number of mathematicians who invented calculus. In the 17th century, two men, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, made their contributions to the field. These two mathematicians had a long, contentious dispute over the credit for inventing calculus. The debate was further fueled by accusations of plagiarism. 

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While Newton and Leibniz were both great mathematicians, their methods were different. Newton had a deep interest in the physical world. He worked on mathematical problems related to gravity. It was also his belief that the laws of nature are written in mathematics. His first book, “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” outlined his ideas on calculus. This book was published in 1687. Although his book was dense and devoted to geometry, it unified the natural philosophy of Europe. 

Newton’s work on calculus is a combination of many different sources. As an individual who was homeschooled, Newton was careful to proof his work with concrete evidence and limits. However, Newton did not have strong arguments about convergence, the definition of derivative, or dividing by zero. At the time, he did not know how to calculate instantaneous velocities. 

While Newton did not publish his first calculus book until 1687, he started working on it in 1666. In 1666, Newton and his mentor, Isaac Barrow, began to write letters to one another expressing their mutual interest in calculus. Later, in 1684, Leibniz published a paper on the topic. Both authors used the same initial notations, but their methods were very different. 

While Newton’s book focused on the physical world, Leibniz’s work was more abstract. He made an attempt to explain the universe using logic statements. That’s why his notations are still in use today. 

In addition to describing his method, Leibniz was the first to propose the idea of integrals. Integrals formalized the fundamental theorem of calculus. Besides that, he devised a method for calculating area under curves. By the end of his life, he had developed the gradients of tangents to curves. 

While there are a few differences between the methods of Newton and Leibniz, the fact remains that these two scientists made significant contributions to the field. They are both respected by the scientific community for their work. Nevertheless, the debate over who invented calculus goes beyond their respective careers and reaches into personal disputes. There are cliques, intimidation, and slander involved. 

Despite the controversy surrounding the inventor of calculus, both scientists are still highly revered. Even today, Newton and Leibniz’s work has had an impact on the development of science. Their discoveries are reflected in textbooks. Today, students are encouraged to ask questions and be engaged with the topic beyond the text. 

Calculus is a subject that is widely studied in the academic world. Students learn about the various mathematicians who have invented it throughout the centuries. Whether you are an aspiring mathematician, a student, or just interested in the history of the subject, you will find the story of who invented calculus fascinating.