Google celebrates Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the man behind the modern-day binary system

Google on Sunday paid homage to German mathematician-philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on the occasion of his 372nd birth anniversary.

Leibniz was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1646, and is well-known for his string of contributions to the field of mathematics, physics, geology, technology and — interestingly enough for the 17th century — computing.

His most prominent contribution, however, is that he perfected the binary number system which is used even today in computer sciences. Liebniz, known as the man who laid the foundation for the modern binary system, used it as a basis for creating a ‘calculating machine’, a precursor to the modern-day calculators.

Leibniz set out to refine his system, transposing decimal numbers into infinite rows of 0s and 1s, but died without achieving his dream of a universal language. The fundamental idea of a binary yes-no or on-off principle, however, stayed. It would be those who came later — George Boole (Boolean Algebra), Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace (computers) among others, who would take Liebniz’s binary system and refine them into computing concepts that are still in use today.

Aside from the binary system, Liebniz is well-known for having a hand in developing integral and differential calculus independently of Sir Isaac Newton. He dabbled in philosophy, linguistics, medicine, physics, geology and wrote extensively about these subjects. According to Britannica, “Leibniz proposed that education be made more practical, that academies be founded; he worked on hydraulic presses, windmills, lamps, submarines, clocks, and a wide variety of mechanical devices; he devised a means of perfecting carriages and experimented with phosphorus.”

Leibniz is also considered to be among the greatest rationalists of the 17th century, alongside philosophers like Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. Leibniz believed that logic, or the “laws of thought” could be moved into an absolute mathematical state from a verbal condition.

The search engine honoured Leibniz with a doodle of ‘Google’ written in binary code.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 10:21:28 PM |

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