date of birth : 1 July 1646

date of death : 14 November 1716

his Signature

Leibniz occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. Leibniz developed the infinitesimal calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's mathematical notation has been widely used ever since it was published. Leibniz also developed the binary number system, which is at the foundation of virtually all digital computers.Leibniz was one of the most brilliant and prolific intellectuals ever; and his influence in mathematics (especially his co-invention of the infinitesimal calculus) was immense. His childhood IQ has been estimated as second-highest in all of history, behind only Goethe. Descriptions which have been applied to Leibniz include "one of the two greatest universal geniuses" (da Vinci was the other); "the most important logician between Aristotle and Boole;" and the "Father of Applied Science." Leibniz described himself as "the most teachable of mortals."

Mathematics was just a self-taught sideline for Leibniz, who was a philosopher, lawyer, historian, diplomat and renowned inventor. Because he "wasted his youth" before learning mathematics, he probably ranked behind the Bernoullis as well as Newton in pure mathematical talent, and thus he may be the only mathematician among the Top Ten who was never the greatest living algorist or theorem prover. We won't try to summarize Leibniz' contributions to philosophy and diverse other fields including biology; as just three examples: he predicted the Earth's molten core, introduced the notion of subconscious mind, and built the first calculator that could do multiplication.

In philosophy, Leibniz is mostly noted for his optimism, e.g. his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that a God could have created. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or a priori definitions rather than to empirical evidence. Leibniz made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in biology, medicine, geology, probability theory, psychology, linguistics, and information science. He wrote works on politics, law, ethics, theology, history, philosophy, and philology. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts. As of 2010, there is no complete gathering of the writings of Leibniz.

Leibniz' thoughts on mathematical physics had some influence. He developed laws of motion that gave different insights from those of Newton. His cosmology was opposed to that of Newton but, anticipating theories of Mach and Einstein, is more in accord with modern physics. Mathematical physicists influenced by Leibniz include not only Mach, but perhaps Hamilton and Poincaré themselves.

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