Calculus emerged in the seventeenth century as a system of shortcuts to results obtained by the method of exhaustion and as a method for discovering such results. The types of problem for which calculus proved suitable were finding lengths, areas, and volumes of curved figures and determining local properties such as tangents, normals, and curvature—in short, what we now recognize as problems of integration and differentiation. Equivalent problems of course arise in mechanics, where one of the dimensions is time instead of distance, hence it was calculus that made mathematical physics possible—a development we shall consider in Chapter 12. In addition, calculus was intimately connected with the theory of infinite series, initiating developments that became fundamental in number theory, combinatorics, and probability theory.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Infinite Series Algebraic Curf Biographical Note High Degree Term
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