Mathematician:Isaac Newton

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Hugely influential English all-rounder famous for:

and much more.

It is suspected nowadays that he may have had Asperger's syndrome.

Because of a supposed feud between him and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, over priority over the Calculus, fuelled unwisely by his colleagues and supposed friends, the cutting edge of analysis passed to the Continent, and England was left in a mathematical backwater.

Spent much of his childhood constructing functional mechanical toys which he shared with his friends in the village.




  • Born: 25 December 1642, Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
  • 1665: Returned home from Cambridge on closure of universities on account of plague
  • 1667: Returned to Cambridge
  • 1669: Accepted the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, passed to him by Isaac Barrow, who stepped down in his favour
  • 1696: Became Warden of the Mint and was charged with reforming the national coinage
  • 1699: Promoted to Master of the Mint
  • 1701 -- 1702: Represented Cambridge University in Parliament
  • 1703: Elected President of the Royal Society
  • 1705: Knighted by Queen Anne
  • Died: 20 March 1727, London, England

Theorems and Definitions



Results named for Isaac Newton can be found here.

Definitions of concepts named for Isaac Newton can be found here.


Notable Quotes

If I have seen a little farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
-- Quoted in 1937: Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics: Chapter $\text{VI}$: On the Seashore

I do not frame hypotheses.

Absolute space, in its own nature, without regard to anything external, remains always similar and immovable ... Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and of its own nature, flows equably and without regard to anything external.
-- Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Critical View

I recognise the lion by his print.
-- Johann Bernoulli, on seeing Newton's solution to his brachistochrone problem

The method of Fluxions [i.e. the calculus] is the general key by help whereof the modern mathematicians unlock the secrets of Geometry, and consequently of Nature.
-- Bishop Berkeley

Nobody since Newton has been able to use geometrical methods to the same extent for the like purposes; and as we read the Principia we feel as when we are in an ancient armoury where the weapons are of gigantic size; and as we look at them we marvel at what manner of man he was who could use as a weapon what we can scarcely lift as a burden.
-- William Whewell

Nature to him was an open book, whose letters he could read without effort.
-- Albert Einstein

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
-- Alexander Pope