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Calculus

Adapted from the Calculus article in Wikipedia:

In Europe, the foundational work of calculus was a treatise written by Bonaventura Cavalieri in the early 17th century. He argued that volumes and areas should be computed as the sums of the volumes and areas of infinitesimally thin cross-sections. The ideas were similar to Archimedes’ in The Method, but Archimedes’ treatise was lost until the early part of the twentieth century.

The formal study of calculus combined Cavalieri’s infinitesimals with the calculus of finite differences developed in Europe at around the same time. Pierre de Fermat, claiming that he borrowed from Diophantus, introduced the concept of adequality, which represented equality up to an infinitesimal error term. The combination was achieved by John Wallis, Isaac Barrow, and James Gregory.

The product rule and chain rule, the notion of higher derivatives, Taylor series, and analytical functions were introduced by Isaac Newton in an idiosyncratic notation which he used to solve problems of mathematical physics. In his publications, Newton rephrased his ideas to suit the mathematical idiom of the time, replacing calculations with infinitesimals by equivalent geometrical arguments which were considered beyond reproach. He used the methods of calculus to solve the problem of planetary motion, the shape of the surface of a rotating fluid, the oblateness of the earth, the motion of a weight sliding on a cycloid, and many other problems discussed in his Principia Mathematica (1687).  But he did not publish all these discoveries, and at this time infinitesimal methods were still considered disreputable.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was the first to publish his results on the development of calculus. These ideas were systematized into a true calculus of infinitesimals by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was originally accused of plagiarism by Newton. Leibniz 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.

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