Who Invented Calculus?


Quick Answer

Credit for the invention of calculus is generally given to Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, both of whom published a series of works on the subject in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Although both developed many of the principles of calculus, it wasn't formalized into an exact science until more than 100 years later.

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Full Answer

Both Newton and Leibniz's discoveries were based on work done throughout the centuries, with ancient Greeks, such as Archimedes, being some of the most influential. Although they developed many similar principles, Newton and Leibniz approached the subject in very different ways. This is part of the reason it took so long for it to become fully developed and formalized.

Johann and Jacob Bernoulli furthered the study of calculus in the early 1700s, as did Scottish mathematician Colin Maclaurin. Credit for finally formalizing calculus into what it is today is usually given to Frenchman Augustin Louis Cachy, who laid out principles to make the practice more rigid and concrete in his 1821 book "Cours d'Analyse."

Cachy's work was then expanded upon by two Germans, Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass and Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann, who further formalized calculus into a set of more strict rules and principles.

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