(July 1, 1646 – November 14, 1716)
Gottfried von Leibniz was a universal genius. There is no known field of study during his era, in which he did not make contributions: arts, sciences, and commerce. He was an outstanding polymath. A jack-of-all-trades and master-of-all! His flair for numbers enabled him to fine-tune the cumbersome arithmetic of the old binary system. Several analytical terms such as: parameters, functions, variables, and coordinates, are attributed to him. His 17th century contemplation, in which he stated that the earth is very likely to have a molten core, has been hailed as scintillating milestone in modern geology. He also explored the scopes of mathematical physics, and made advances in symbolic logic (which is a precursor to modern computing). In the process, he invented the pinwheel calculator and various other gadgets. He even anticipated Topology (as Geometria Situs) long before Leonhard Euler was born. Leibniz discovered infinitesimal calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and wrote more extensively on it than Newton did. His integral/differential notations are in use today because they are easier, more intuitive, and above all, better than Newton’s. These are remarkable: considering the fact that he was a lawyer who learned science as a hobby (from Christiaan Huygens, as well as by studying the works of Blaise Pascal which Huygens recommended). In view of his brilliance and versatility, many scholars rank him among the smartest men ever known to have lived. And in 1985, the Leibniz Prize, (one of the most lucrative prizes in science), was endowed in his honor.