Calculus

Calculus, originally called infinitesimal calculus or "the calculus of infinitesimals", is the mathematical study of continuous change, in the same way that geometry is the study of shape, and algebra is the study of generalizations of arithmetic operations.

It has two major branches, differential calculus and integral calculus; differential calculus concerns instantaneous rates of change, and the slopes of curves, while integral calculus concerns accumulation of quantities, and areas under or between curves. These two branches are related to each other by the fundamental theorem of calculus, and they make use of the fundamental notions of convergence of infinite sequences and infinite series to a well-defined limit.[1]

Infinitesimal calculus was developed independently in the late 17th century by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.[2][3] Later work, including codifying the idea of limits, put these developments on a more solid conceptual footing. Today, calculus has widespread uses in science, engineering, and economics.[4]

In mathematics education, calculus denotes courses of elementary mathematical analysis, which are mainly devoted to the study of functions and limits. The word calculus is Latin for "small pebble" (the diminutive of calx, meaning "stone"). Because such pebbles were used for counting out distances,[5] tallying votes, and doing abacus arithmetic, the word came to mean a method of computation. In this sense, it was used in English at least as early as 1672, several years prior to the publications of Leibniz and Newton.[6] (The older meaning still persists in medicine.) In addition to the differential calculus and integral calculus, the term is also used for naming specific methods of calculation and related theories, such as propositional calculus, Ricci calculus, calculus of variations, lambda calculus, and process calculus.


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