By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline Story

The Invention of Calculus

The Invention of Calculus

From Year 0 (BCE/CE): 1687
Post Date: 07/05/1687

Invented by Newton in the 1660s (pub. 1687) and independently by Leibniz in the 1680s (pub. 1684). Both built on Galileo’s popularizing the idea of the infinitesimal.

Calculus, the mathematical study of continuous change, introduced the concepts of differentiation and integration, providing tools to model and analyze motion, growth, and the infinitesimal. Newton, working primarily in England, utilized calculus to formulate his laws of motion and gravitation, fundamentally altering our understanding of the physical universe. Simultaneously, Leibniz developed a similar set of mathematical tools, contributing a notation system that remains in use to this day. He introduced the integral sign (∫) and the differential operator (d), foundational in calculus for representing integration and infinitesimal changes, respectively. His “dy/dx” notation for derivatives elegantly describes rates of change, all of which remain central to calculus today.

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