Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

Philosopher, Academic

1646 – 1716


Who was Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz?

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was a German mathematician and philosopher. He 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. It was only in the 20th century that his Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of Homogeneity found mathematical implementation. He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is at the foundation of virtually all digital computers.

In philosophy, Leibniz is most noted for his optimism, e.g., his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that 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 prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence.

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Jul 1, 1646
Also known as
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
  • Leibniz
  • G. W. Leibniz
  • Lutheranism
  • Germans
  • Sorbs
  • Germany
  • University of Leipzig
  • University of Altdorf
  • Friedrich Schiller University of Jena
Nov 14, 1716

on July 23, 2013


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