# Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

## German mathematician and philosopher (1646–1716) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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**Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz**^{[lower-alpha 1]} (1 July 1646 [O.S. 21 June] – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath active as a mathematician, philosopher, scientist and diplomat who invented calculus in addition to many other branches of mathematics and statistics. Leibniz has been called the "last universal genius" due to his knowledge and skills in different fields and because such people became less common during the Industrial Revolution and spread of specialized labor after his lifetime.^{[15]} He is a prominent figure in both the history of philosophy and the history of mathematics. He wrote works on philosophy, theology, ethics, politics, law, history, philology, games, music, and other studies. Leibniz also made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics and computer science. In addition, he contributed to the field of library science by devising a cataloguing system whilst working at the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, that would have served as a guide for many of Europe's largest libraries.^{[16]} Leibniz's contributions to a wide range of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters and in unpublished manuscripts. He wrote in several languages, primarily in Latin, French and German.^{[17]}^{[lower-alpha 2]}

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As a philosopher, he was a leading representative of 17th-century rationalism and idealism. As a mathematician, his major achievement was the development of the main ideas of differential and integral calculus, independently of Isaac Newton's contemporaneous developments.^{[19]} Mathematicians have consistently favored Leibniz's notation as the conventional and more exact expression of calculus.^{[20]}^{[21]}^{[22]}

In the 20th century, Leibniz's notions of the law of continuity and transcendental law of homogeneity found a consistent mathematical formulation by means of non-standard analysis. He was also a pioneer 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^{[23]} and invented the Leibniz wheel, later used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator.

In philosophy and theology, Leibniz is most noted for his optimism, i.e. his conclusion that our world is, in a qualified sense, the best possible world that God could have created, a view sometimes lampooned by other thinkers, such as Voltaire in his satirical novella *Candide*. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three influential early modern rationalists. His philosophy also assimilates elements of the scholastic tradition, notably the assumption that some substantive knowledge of reality can be achieved by reasoning from first principles or prior definitions. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and still influences contemporary analytic philosophy, such as its adopted use of the term "possible world" to define modal notions.