The History of Mathematics

Mathematics After the Middle Ages

Who was Sir Isaac Newton?

Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was an English mathematician and physicist considered by some to be one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. He was credited with inventing differential calculus in 1665 and integral calculus the following year. (For more information about calculus, see “Mathematical Analysis.”) The list of his achievements—mathematical and scientific—does not end there: He is also credited as the discoverer of the general binomial theorem, worked on infinite series, and even made advancements in optics and chemistry.

Some of Newton’s greatest contributions include the development of the law of universal gravitation, rules of planetary orbits, and sundry other astronomical concepts. By 1687, Newton had written one of his most famous books The Principia or Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), which is often called the greatest scientific book ever written. In it Newton presents his theories of motion, gravity, and mechanics. Although he had developed calculus earlier, he still used the customary classical geometry to work out physical problems within the book.


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