Calculus: How it all Started

Calculus is a substitute of the modern day’s mathematics education. The course of calculus is a pre-requisite to many other contemporary modules. Further advancements in the courses of mathematics lead to the study of functions and limits, which broadly incorporate the concept of mathematical analysis. The word "calculus" is a Latin word used to refer to a small stone used for counting and other calculations. The ancient period introduced basic ideas that led to further developments and momentous discoveries. Some of the key figures who contributed for Calculus are mentioned here.

It All started for the Big Bang

big bang theory

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In 300 B.C. Archimedes, Aristarchus, and Eratosthenes worked for mathematics and produced historic discoveries which are being employed till today. They were the inventors of compound pulley, pump, along with the realization of centers of gravity of planar regions. The estimation of the value of Pi came into existence in their time period. It was their devotion to the field of mathematics that led to some of the most historic discoveries and innovations. Eventually as the result of their empirical calculations, the estimation of earth’s life time approximating to be 4 billion years and the theory of “Big Bang” were realized.

It’s Probably the Tangential Graph

Calculus: The Giants from The Past

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In the time span of 1550-1617, John Napier and Johannes Kepler produced great works for the field of Calculus. Napier discovered the concepts of logarithms. During 1601-1665, Pierre de Fermat explored the concepts of maxima and minima for the tangents of a graph. He was also the major contributor for the theories of probability, and it was not until 1994 that Fermat’s last theorem was solved by Andrew Wiles at the Princeton University.

The Inventor of Calculus


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The noblest personality for the fields of Physics and Mathematics is unquestionably, Sir Isaac Newton, who is marked as the inventors of Calculus. He discovered the most renowned laws of gravitation with his passionate researches for physics and astronomy. He was also the main contributor in the discoveries of differential and Integration. His alleged competitor in 1646-1716, Von Leibniz, opposed Newton’s works related to the derivatives and the integrals. Von Leibniz worked to construct a new form of algebra associated with cognitive theorems.

 The irrational behavior of numbers

Calculus: The Giants from The Past

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Leonhard Euler in the time span of 1707-1783, contributed majorly for Calculus. He discovered the formulas for irrational numbers and the exponential “e”. He won the Grand Prize in Paris for his chief contributions.

During this time, Joseph-Louis Lagrange was the Director of Mathematics in Berlin where he invented the Lagrange multiplier method in Calculus using the variations of paths of moving energy particles. He was awarded the Legion of Honor award for his services by Napoleon.

Bernhard Riemann in 1854 brought forward the theory of integral Riemann sums. He is known for his use of analytic tools along with Geometry to put together the Theory of Relativity.

The Radioactive Man

Calculus: The Giants from The Past

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The decay of radioactive carbon was first estimated by the American scientist William Libby using his formulas, Product Rule and the Quotient Rule. Libby's discoveries were further used by the investigators to determine the time of manufacture of the paintings which were being sold on the black market as originals. The carbon dating helped in proving the paintings to be forgeries based on the decay constant of lead used in the paintings.

There were other key figures as well, who were responsible for the ground breaking discoveries for the fields of Calculus and Physics thereby laying the firm grounds for the modern mathematics models.

6996   11/02/2014

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