In a letter to Gottfried Wilhelm
Leibniz (1646--1716), Newton stated the two most basic problems of
"1. Given the length of
the space continuously [i.e., at every instant of time], to find
speed of motion [i.e., the derivative] at any time proposed.
2. Given the speed of motion continuously, to find the length of the space [i.e., the integral or the antiderivative] described at any time proposed."
This indicates his understanding (but not proof) of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
Instead of using derivatives, Newton referred to fluxions of variables, denoted by x, and instead of antiderivatives, he used what he called fluents. Newton considered lines as generated by points in motion, planes as generated by lines in motion and bodies as generated by planes in motion, and he called these fluents. He used the term fluxions to refer to the velocity of these fluents.
Newton began thinking of the
traditional geometric problems of calculus in algebraic terms.
Newton’s three calculus monographs were circulated to his colleagues of the Royal Society, but they were not published until much later, after his death.
Leibniz’s ideas about integrals,
derivatives, and calculus in general were derived from close analogies
finite sums and differences. Leibniz also formulated an early statement of the Fundamental Theorem of
Calculus, and then later in a 1693 paper Leibniz stated, "the general problem of quadratures can be reduced to the finding of a curve that has a given law of tangency.
A ugly dispute between Leibniz and Newton, fueled by their followers ensued over credit for the development of these ideas. Most English mathematicians continued to Newton’s fluxions and fluents, avoiding avoided Leibniz’s superior notations until the early 1800's.
Both Newton and Leibniz developed calculus with an intuitive approach. Formal proofs came with later mathematicians, primarily Cauchy.
The rigorous development of the calculus is credited to Augustin Louis Cauchy (1789--1857). The modern proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus was written in his Lessons Given at the École Royale Polytechnique on the Infinitesimal Calculus in 1823. Cauchy's proof finally rigorously and elegantly united the two major branches of calculus (differential and integral) into one structure.
Cauchy was born in Paris the year the French revolution began. Laplace was his neighbor, and Lagrange was an a friend and supporter. He was admitted to the École polytechnique in 1805 to study engineering at the age of 16. Cauchy had already read Laplace’s Mécanique céleste and Lagrange’s Traité des functions analytiques.
In 1816 he won a contest
of the French Academy on the propagation of
waves on the surface of a liquid.
In the same year when Monge and Carnot were expelled from the Académie des sciences, Cauchy was appointed as a replacement member. Eventually, Cauchy was appointed a full professor at the École polytechnique. His classic works Cours d’analyse (Course on Analysis, 1821) and Résumé des leçons ... sur le calcul infinitésimal (1823) contain his contributions to the rigorous development calculus. From 1831 to 1833, while in excile from France due to political unrest, he taught at the University of Turin in Switzerland, and subsequently accepted a professorship of celestial mechanics at Sorbonne. Cauchy was a highly prolific writer, publishing a total of 789 works.
Limit is therefore the most fundamental concept of calculus . This concept of limit distinguishes calculus from other branches of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, number theory, and logic.
The currently used definition of limit is less than 150 years old. Before this time, the notions of limit were vague and confusing intuitions -- only infrequently used correctly. In fact, in much of his work on calculus, Isaac Newton failed to acknowledge the fundamental role of the limit.
In the beginning of Book I of the Principia Mathematica, Newton provides a formulation of the definition of limit :
"Quantities, and the ratios
of quantities, which in any finite time converge continually to
before the end of that time approach nearer to each other than by any given difference, become
Concern about the lack of rigorous
foundations for calculus grew during the late years of the 18th century
At the beginning of the 18th century, the ideas about limits were certainly confusing.
In 1821, Cauchy was searching for a
rigorous development of calculus to present to his engineering students
at the École polytechnique in Paris. He started calculus
course from scratch; beginning with a modern definition of the
limit. His class notes were essentially textbooks,
the first one called Cours d’analyse (Course of Analysis). In his
writings, Cauchy used limits as the basis for rigorous
definitions of continuity and convergence, the derivative and the
integral. He gave as his definition of limit:
" When the values successively attributed to a particular variable approach indefinitely
a fixed value so as to differ from it by as little as one wishes, this latter value
is called the limit of the others. "
Karl Weierstrass (1815--1897), a professor of mathematics at the University of Berlin, restated Cauchy’s original definition of the limit in strict arithmetical terms, using only absolute values and inequalities, giving us the epsilon-delta definition we use today.
Cauchy's definition of the derivative was given as:
"The limit of [f(x + i) – f(x)] / i as i approaches 0. The form of
the function which serves
as the limit of the ratio [f(x + i) – f(x)] / i will depend on the form of the proposed
function y = f(x). In order to indicate this dependence, one gives the new function the
name of derived function. "
Cauchy went on to find derivatives of
all the elementary functions and to give the chain rule.
He also applied the Mean Value Theorem for derivatives in the proof of a number of basic calculus results such as the first derivative criteria for increasing and decreasing functions.
Cauchy defined the integral of any continuous function on the interval [a,b] to be the limit of the sums of areas of thin rectangles. He attempted to prove that this limit existed for all functions continuous on the given interval. His attempted proof used the Intermediate Value Theorem, but contained some logical gaps.
Cauchy proved the Mean Value Theorem for Integrals and used it to prove the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus for continuous functions, giving the form of the proof used today's calculus texts.
Cauchy the first to define fully the ideas of convergence and absolute convergence of infinite series, including the development of the ratio and root tests for convergence of series.
He was also the first to develop a
systematic theory for complex numbers and to develop the Fourier
transform for differential equations.