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?

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 1560257067
Salesrank: 1900128
Weight:1.01 lbs
Published: 2006 Thunder's Mouth Press
Marketplace:New from $9.99:Used from $4.44
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 184344030X
Salesrank: 627531
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2006 High Stakes Publishing
Marketplace:New from £18.99:Used from £6.75
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 288 pages  
ISBN: 1560257067
Salesrank: 391552
Weight:1.01 lbs
Published: 2006 Basic Books
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 49.14:Used from CDN$ 13.90
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Product Description
Now regarded as the bane of many college students’ existence, calculus was one of the most important mathematical innovations of the seventeenth century. But a dispute over its discovery sewed the seeds of discontent between two of the greatest scientific giants of all time — Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Today Newton and Leibniz are generally considered the twin independent inventors of calculus, and they are both credited with giving mathematics its greatest push forward since the time of the Greeks. Had they known each other under different circumstances, they might have been friends. But in their own lifetimes, the joint glory of calculus was not enough for either and each declared war against the other, openly and in secret.

This long and bitter dispute has been swept under the carpet by historians — perhaps because it reveals Newton and Leibniz in their worst light — but The Calculus Wars tells the full story in narrative form for the first time. This vibrant and gripping scientific potboiler ultimately exposes how these twin mathematical giants were brilliant, proud, at times mad and, in the end, completely human.