History of Calculus Essay

1174 Words Feb 19th, 2008 5 Pages
History of Calculus

The history of calculus falls into several distinct time periods, most notably the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. The ancient period introduced some of the ideas of integral calculus, but does not seem to have developed these ideas in a rigorous or systematic way. Calculating volumes and areas, the basic function of integral calculus, can be traced back to the Egyptian Moscow papyrus (c. 1800 BC), in which an Egyptian successfully calculated the volume of a pyramidal frustum.[1][2] From the school of Greek mathematics, Eudoxus (c. 408−355 BC) used the method of exhaustion, which prefigures the concept of the limit, to calculate areas and volumes while Archimedes (c. 287−212 BC) developed this idea
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Newton claimed Leibniz stole ideas from his unpublished notes, which Newton had shared with a few members of the Royal Society. This controversy divided English-speaking mathematicians from continental mathematicians for many years, to the detriment of English mathematics. A careful examination of the papers of Leibniz and Newton shows that they arrived at their results independently, with Leibniz starting first with integration and Newton with differentiation. Today, both Newton and Leibniz are given credit for developing calculus independently. It is Leibniz, however, who gave the new discipline its name. Newton called his calculus "the science of fluxions".

Since the time of Leibniz and Newton, many mathematicians have contributed to the continuing development of calculus. In the 19th century, calculus was put on a much more rigorous footing by mathematicians such as Cauchy, Riemann, and Weierstrass. It was also during this period that the ideas of calculus were generalized to Euclidean space and the complex plane. Lebesgue further generalized the notion of the integral.

Calculus is a ubiquitous topic in most modern high schools and universities, and mathematicians around the world continue to contribute to its development.[12]

[edit] Significance

While some of the ideas of calculus were developed earlier, in Greece, China, India, Iraq, Persia, and Japan, the modern use of calculus began in Europe, during the 17th

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