Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz are two of the most supreme intellects of the 17th century. They are both considered to be the inventors of Calculus.  However, after a terrible dispute, Sir Isaac Newton took most of the credit.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German philosopher, mathematician, and statesman born in the country of Leipzig.  He received his education at the universities of Leipzig, Jena, and Altdorf.  He received a doctorate in law.  He devoted much of his time to the principle studies of mathematics, science, and philosophy.

Leibniz’s contribution in mathematics was in the year 1675, when he discovered the fundamental principles of infinitesimal calculus.  He arrived at this discovery independently at the same time along with the English scientist Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.  However, Leibniz’s system was published in 1684, three years before Newton published his.  Also at this time Leibniz’s method of notation, known as mathematical symbols, was adopted universally.

He also contributed in 1672 by inventing a calculating machine that was capable of multiplying, dividing, and extracting square roots. All this made him a pioneer in the development of mathematical logic. Sir Isaac Newton is the other major figure in the development of Calculus.  He was an English mathematician and physicist, whose considered to be one of the greatest scientists in history.

Newton was born on December 25, 1642, at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire.  He attended Trinity College, at the University of Cambridge. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1665 and received his master’s degree in 1668. However, there he ignored much of the university’s established curriculum to pursue his own interests: mathematics and natural philosophy.

Almost immediately, he made fundamental discoveries in both areas. Newtons recoveries were made up of several different things.  It consisted of combined infinite sums which are known as infinite series.

It also consisted of the binomial theorem for fractional exponents and the algebraic expression of the inverse relation between tangents and areas into methods that we refer to today as calculus. However, the story is not that simple.  Being that both men were so-called universal geniuses, they realized that in different ways they were entitled to have the credit for “inventing calculus”.

Both engaged in a violent dispute over priority in the invention of calculus. Unfortunately, Newton had the upper hand, considering that he was the president of the Royal Society.  He used this position to select a committee that would investigate the unsolved question.

Apparently, Newton included himself on this committee (illegally) and submitted a false report that charged Leibniz with deliberate plagiarism.  He was also the one who compiled the book of evidence that the “society” was supposed to publish.

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "History of Calculus: Newton & Leibniz," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/history-of-calculus-newton-leibniz/.

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Kim J.
Kim J.
9 months ago

Thanks for this brief history of the origin of Calculus. Very informative and interesting.