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Branch of mathematical analysis, devised by Isaac Newton and G.W. Leibniz, and concerned with the problem of finding the rate of change of a function with respect to the variable on which it depends. Thus it involves calculating derivatives and using them to solve problems involving nonconstant rates of change. Typical applications include finding maximum and minimum values of functions in order to solve practical problems in optimization.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on differential calculus, visit Britannica.com.