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Gottfried Leibniz

Gottfried Leibniz


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German mathematician and philosopher. His writings were in Latin, German and French which shows that his readings and academic investments were conveyed to many people. He was born on July 1, 1646 and died on November 14, 1716.

Early Life

He was born in Leipzig, Saxony and his parents were Friedrich Leibniz and Catharina Schmuck. His father passed away when he was only six years old, which left much of his upbringing to the mother, in turn this meant that Leibniz’s philosophical ideas were influenced by her. Leibniz’s father was a Professor of Moral Philosophy and hence had a library filled with books which meant that after his death the mathematician inherited this academic possession. This allowed him to educate himself in philosophical and theological works which were in Latin and helped him improvise on that particular language even before college, he was fluent at it by the age of 12. When he was 15 he admitted himself in his father’s old university and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy by 1662 and earned his Masters Degree by 1664. He also gained his Bachelors degree in Law by 1665 which shows the extent and diversity of his academic interests. Leibniz contributed to the fields of philosophy and law through his publications.

Mathematical Endeavor

When Leibniz was in Paris he realized that he didn’t have sufficient knowledge in physics or mathematics which is why he pursued a self study program with his mentor Huygens and made contributions through differential and integral calculus. During his mathematical interests, he became friends with a German mathematician Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and they corresponded with each other for their whole lives. In 1675 he was became part of the French Academy of Sciences since he was given the title of an foreign honorary member. He also became an external member of the Royal Society when he invented a machine that calculated the four arithmetical functions. Later on in life he worked hard at the calculus and also presented papers in 1682 and 1692 in the Journal Acta Eruditorum. Along with Newton, Leibniz is also given credit to the presentation of “infinitesimal calculus”, there was friction between Newton and Gottfried Leibinz on the invention of calculus. Till today the product rule of differential calculus is still called “Leibniz’s law”. The mathematician imprinted his name in the world of mechanical calculation, he was also the first to explain a pinwheel calculator in 1685. Leibniz is also known to be responsible for the idea of a Leibniz Wheel which is used in an arithometer, and also helped improve the binary number system which has one wonders for digital computers.

Personal Details

He never married and is known to complain about money at times, his sister’s stepson inherited what he left behind after his death. Leibniz was fond of documenting all this mathematical pursuits and is known to have backdating and tweaking his journal too which fuels the debate centered on ‘Calculus and Newton’. He died in Hanover.

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