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Leibniz: The Father Of Modern Calculus

1549 words - 6 pages

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is an important figure in the history of philosophy and mathematics. Although his work was not fully appreciated during his day, he did much to advance the "thinking" on a variety of subjects. His fame was scarred by the infamous controversy with Isaac Newton on the subject of the discoverer of calculus. Leibniz's work encompassed a wide scope, ranging from philosopy to politics to mechanics and mathematics, but his most noteworthy accomplishment was the discovery of differential calculus and its highly efficient notation.

Leibniz was born July 1, 1646 in Leipzig, Germany into a family of renowned scholars. His father, Friedrich Leibniz, was a professor of philosophy at the University of Leipzig. By the age of seven, Leibniz was self-taught in Greek and Latin and "was something of a prodigy" (Meyer 2). During this time, he was taught Aristotle's logic and sought to improve it. These ideas became the foundation of his mathematical proofs. "In later life Leibniz recalled that at this time he was trying to find orderings on logical truths which?were the ideas behind rigorous mathematical proofs" (O'Connor and Robertson). At the age of 15, Leibniz attended the University of Leipzig, and at 17, he left to Jena to study law over the summer. He submitted a legal thesis for a doctor's degree at age 20 to the University of Leipzig but was rejected (Broad 1).

Leibniz was quite accomplished in many fields other than philosophy and mathematics. He was greatly interested in poems. "Although Leibniz's interests were clearly developing in a scientific direction, he still hankered after a literary career. All his life he prided himself on his poetry ?, and boasted that he could recite the bulk of Virgil's 'Aeneid' by heart" (O'Connor and Robertson). He also wrote a book on history. After his thesis was rejected by the University of Leipzig, Leibniz pursued alchemy and magic at Nürnberg. To add to that, Leibniz made an attempt at becoming a diplomat. This ambitious man made several efforts to reunite the Protestant and Catholic Church. He also tried to persuade Louis XIV to attack Egypt instead of German areas. In the end, these efforts were fruitless. Leibniz had other aspirations and founded the Academy of Berlin. He also was "consulted about the foundation of the academies of Vienna and St. Petersburg" (Broad 3). During his later years, Leibniz attained the position of librarian of the Duke of Brunswick. Lastly, Leibniz was also quite advanced as an engineer. His most prominent invention was the mechanical calculating machine. Other assignments include windmills, pumps, and gears, which he designed by for government projects.

Leibniz's principal area of expertise was his philosophy. He published many books and papers on his view of the world and its truths. One of his key concepts was the monad. A monad is the most basic "element"...

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