Who Invented Calculus?

There are two mathematicians who can be credited with having invented calculus: Sir Isaac Newton, England and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Germany. A controversy arose when Leibniz published his papers. Newton and other English mathematicians alleged that Leibniz had stolen Newton’s ideas. It was found out later that Leibniz had developed calculus on its own and made his findings public before Newton. Historians credit both mathematicians as the inventors of calculus.

Sir Isaac NewtonCalculus is the branch of mathematics which deals with the rates of change, areas of curves etc. It is primarily divided into two branches: differential calculus and integral calculus. Depending upon the applications, there are more categories: lambda calculus (used in computer sciences), pi calculus (theoretical computer sciences), variational calculus (deals with functionals) etc.

The basic concepts of calculus were being worked out for centuries. Mathematicians from Egypt, Greece, Japan, India, China and Persia all made small progress which would form the foundations of calculus. Liu Hui, Eudoxus, Zeno, Archimedes, Zu Zongzhi etc were pioneers of the ancient times. The concept of method of exhaustion and the formulae of the area of a circle, volume of a sphere etc were discovered by these experts. Later Persian, Arabic and Indian mathematicians played their part and made further advances. Ibn al-Haytham derived a formula to find the sum of an algebraic expression with fourth power. Bhaskara II, an Indian mathematician, discovered and an early version of Rolle’s Theorem. Although advances were being made, they were not very coherent. It was then that both Newton and Leibniz first studied what the earlier mathematicians had done, worked on it and developed a whole new branch of mathematics. Leibniz called this new branch ‘calculus’ but Newton called it ‘the science of fluxions’. The name given by Leibniz is more commonly used.

Category: Inventions

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