Who Was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz? Facts and Quotes from German Polymath Celebrated in Google Doodle

Sunday’s Google Doodle celebrates the 372nd birthday of German philosopher, mathematician and polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Leibnitz was born on July 1, 1646, in Leipzig, Germany, towards the close of the devastating 30 Years War.

His ground-breaking work in mathematics helped to pave the way for the invention of the smartphones and computers, such as that you’re likely reading this article on. 

GettyImages-51244188 Circa 1701, An engraving of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646 - 1716) German mathematician, philosopher and historian. Getty Images

Leibniz’s greatest accomplishment is considered to be his development of differential calculus, used to calculate rates of change, and integral calculus, used to calculate area and volume. Isaac Newton was working on similar ideas at the same time, and as both were members of London’s Royal Society it is likely they would have known about each other’s work. 

Mathematicians favor Leibnitz’ notations as the foundations of calculus, while Newton's has fallen into disuse. Leibnitz also developed the binary number system, the foundation of today’s digital computers. 

He is also one of the key figures in modern philosophy, whose optimistic rationalist system, as expounded in works such as the Monadology, was lampooned by French author Voltaire in his satire Candide. 

Leibniz in quotes 

"There are two kinds of truths: those of reasoning and those of fact. The truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible; the truths of fact are contingent and their opposites are possible," Monadology.

"And as every present state of a simple substance is naturally a consequence of its preceding state, so its presence is pregnant with its future," Monadology.

"In whatever manner God created the world, it would always have been regular and in a certain general order. God, however, has chosen the most perfect, that is to say, the one which is at the same time the simplest in hypothesis and the richest in phenomena," Discourse on Metaphysics.

 

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