Science and Invention

Isaac Newton

Did Newton invent calculus?

Yes, Newton did invent calculus. But so did German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716), independently of Newton. Both men had developed calculus in the context of trying to explain the laws of physics. Newton’s development of calculus predated that of Leibniz, but he failed to publish it. Leibniz published his results in 1684; Newton followed suit in 1693. Each used different symbols and notations, but Leibniz’s were considered superior and were more widely adopted, causing friction between the men. Their conflict became a matter of national pride, with English scientists refusing to accept Leibniz’s version. Nevertheless, since Newton’s system predated that of Leibniz, he is credited as the originator.


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