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The History Of Calculus

What is Calculus?

• From Latin, calculus, a small stone used for counting

• A branch of mathematics including limits, derivatives,
integrals, and infinite sums
• Used in science, economics, and engineering
• Builds on algebra, geometry, and trig with two major
branches differential calculus and integral calculus
Ancient History

• In the earliest years, integral calculus was being used as an

idea, but was not yet formalized into a system.
• Calculating volumes and areas can be traced to the
Egyptian Moscow papyrus (1820 BC).
Ancient Greeks

• Greek mathematician Eudoxus (408-355 BC) used the

method of exhaustion, a precursor to limits, to calculate
area and volume
• Archimedes (287-212 BC) continued Eudoxus’ idea and
invented heuristics, similar to integration, to calculate area.
Medieval History
• In about 1000 AD, Islamic mathematician, Ibn al-
Haytham (Alhacen) derived a formula for the sum of
the fourth powers of an arithmetic progression, later
used to perform integration.
• In the 12th century, Indian mathematician Bhaskara
II developed an early derivative. He described an
early form of what will later be “Rolle’s Theorem”
• Also in the 12th century, Persian mathematician
Saraf al-Din al-Tusi discovered the derivative of a
cubic polynomial
Modern History

• Bonaventure Cavalieri argued that volumes be

computed by the sums of the volumes of cross
sections. (This was similar to Archimedes’s).
• However, Cavalieri’s work was not well respected,
so his infinitesimal quantities were not accepted at
Modern History

• Formal study combined Cavalieri’s infinitesimal

quantities with finite differences in Europe. This
was done by John Wallis, Isaac Barrow, and James
• Barrow and Gregory would later prove the 2nd
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus in 1675.
Enter Newton…

• Isaac Newton (English) is credited with many of the

beginnings of calculus. He introduced product rule, chain
rule and higher derivatives to solve physics problems.
• He used calculus to explain many physics problems in his
book Principia Mathematica
…and Leibniz

• Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (German) systemized the ideas of

calculus of infinitesimals. Unlike Newton, Leibniz provided
a clear set of rules to manipulate infinitesimals.
• Leibniz spent time determining appropriate symbols and paid
more attention to formality.
• His work leads to formulas for product and chain rule as well
as rules for derivatives and integrals.
Newton vs. Leibniz

• There was much controversy over who (and thus

which country) should be credited with calculus
since both worked at the same time.
• Newton derived his results first, but Leibniz
published first.
Newton vs. Leibniz

• Newton claimed Leibniz stole ideas from

unpublished notes written to the Royal Society.
• This divided English-speaking math and continental
math for many years.
Newton vs. Leibniz

• Today it is known that Newton began his work with

derivatives and Leibniz began with integrals. Both
arrived at the same conclusions independently.
• The name of the study was given by Leibniz,
Newton called it “the science of fluxions”.
Since then…

• There have been many contributions to build upon Newton

and Leibniz.
• Calculus was put on a more rigorous footing by
mathematicians such as Cauchy, Riemann, and Weierstrass
• Calculus has also been generalized for the Euclidean and
complex space.
In conclusion…

We will stand on the shoulders of those that

came before us and study their findings and
apply them to our modern world!