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Jason Bardi

The Calculus Wars

Calculus is a word that brings trepidation to many students , and they may wonder who is responsible for this branch of mathematics. In The Calculus wars Jason Bardi shows how two great thinkers claimed to have invented it. At first Newton and Leibniz were willing to grant that they invented the subject independently, and that each provided a useful part. But somehow, in their later lives, it turned nasty and each accused the other of plagiarism. Bardi is a skilled writer, putting together a interesting story from the historical data and I would recommend the book to anyone with an interest in the history of mathematics or more generally in how the modern approach to science came about.

Personally I would have liked to have seen more of the actual mathematics involved in the book. I can understand the avoidance of equations in a work written in a popular style, but my feeling is that the readership of this book is likely to be those who do not mind a bit of mathematics. Not only would this give more of a central thread to the book, it would also allow the readers to form their own judgement on the competing claims - did Leibniz do the hard work of making calculus into a useful subject, or was it all there in Newton's original work?  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews