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Mathematics topics

20 Sep 2013


These ideas were systematized into a true calculus of infinitesimals by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was originally accused of plagiarism by Newton.[9] He is now regarded as an independent inventor of and contributor to calculus. His contribution was to provide a clear set of rules for manipulating infinitesimal quantities, allowing the computation of second and higher derivatives, and providing the product rule and chain rule, in their differential and integral forms. Unlike Newton, Leibniz paid a lot of attention to the formalism, often spending days determining appropriate symbols for concepts.

Leibniz and Newton are usually both credited with the invention of calculus. Newton was the first to apply calculus to general physics and Leibniz developed much of the notation used in calculus today. The basic insights that both Newton and Leibniz provided were the laws of differentiation and integration, second and higher derivatives, and the notion of an approximating polynomial series. By Newton’s time, the fundamental theorem of calculus was known.

When Newton and Leibniz first published their results, there was great controversy over which mathematician (and therefore which country) deserved credit. Newton derived his results first, but Leibniz published first. Newton claimed Leibniz stole ideas from his unpublished notes, which Newton had shared with a few members of the Royal Society. This controversy divided English-speaking mathematicians from continental mathematicians for many years, to the detriment of English mathematics. A careful examination of the papers of Leibniz and Newton shows that they arrived at their results independently, with Leibniz starting first with integration and Newton with differentiation. Today, both Newton and Leibniz are given credit for developing calculus independently. It is Leibniz, however, who gave the new discipline its name. Newton called his calculus “the science of fluxions“.


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