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Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was born in what is now Germany on July 1, 1646. Leibniz had many interests, including philosophy, theology, and writing poetry in Latin. His mathematical interests were also varied: they included binary arithmetic and symbolic logic, as well as calculus.

Leibniz was very interested in finding good notation. (It's hard to write clearly about mathematics if you're using confusing symbols!) In fact, though Newton invented calculus first, almost all of the notation that we use for calculus today is Leibniz's. Leibniz also chose many of the terms that we use for graphing. He was the first person to use the word "coordinates," and he used the term "axes of coordinates." Leibniz also invented the terms "function" and "variable."

Leibniz was a much more friendly person than Newton. Instead of keeping his ideas to himself until he was sure they were perfect, Leibniz wrote letters to hundreds of other scholars, all across Europe. Leibniz's openness may be one of the reasons we use his notation and vocabulary today.


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