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Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

German (1646-1716), born in Leipzig, died in Hanover, Germany. The inventor of differentiation as well as of integration, together called differential calculus.[1,2]

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, portrait painted by C. B. Francke[3]

Leibniz was a scientist who worked within many different fields, including mathematics, physics, geology, history, logic, politics, metaphysics and religious psychology, and had a doctorate in law.[2]

In his famous work ‘Dissertatio de arte combinatoria‘ (‘Dissertation on the Art of Combinations‘) from 1666,[2] Leibniz founded symbolic logic.[1] Later on, inspired by the works of Pascal, he developed the differential calculus which would change mathematics forever.[2] In fact, calculus was invented by the physicist Sir Issac Newton around that same time, but independently. It was a big debate, who was to be contributed with its invention – Leibniz was though the first to publish his ideas, namely in 1684, three years before Newton.[1]

Leibniz was very interested in logic and reasoning, and in the foundation for proper arguments. In his work ‘Monadology‘ (1714), he defines a set of core principles that all human reasoning is based on, among which the two most important ones are[2]

  • the principle of contradiction‘: that a claim can’t be both true and false, and
  • the principle of sufficient reasoning‘: that there is no effect without a cause.

Nihil est sine ratione (nothing is without a reason)

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz[2]

Leibniz also invented the concept of binary numbers as well as one of the world’s first calculators that could perform the four basic math operations.[1,2]


  1. Gottfried Leibniz’ (web page), Luke Mastin, Famous Scientists, 2018, www.famousscientists.org/gottfried-leibniz (accessed Jan. 14th, 2020)
  2. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’ (encyclopedia), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013, Summer 2017 edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta, plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibniz (accessed Jan. 14th, 2020)
  3. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’ (painting), Christoph Bernhard Francke, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, photo by A. Wittmann, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Wilhelm_Leibniz (accessed Jan. 14th, 2020)