# mathematics: Analysis

### Analysis

The essential ingredient of analysis is the use of infinite processes, involving passage to a limit. For example, the area of a circle may be computed as the limiting value of the areas of inscribed regular polygons as the number of sides of the polygons increases indefinitely. The basic branch of analysis is the calculus. The general problem of measuring lengths, areas, volumes, and other quantities as limits by means of approximating polygonal figures leads to the integral calculus. The differential calculus arises similarly from the problem of finding the tangent line to a curve at a point. Other branches of analysis result from the application of the concepts and methods of the calculus to various mathematical entities. For example, vector analysis is the calculus of functions whose variables are vectors. Here various types of derivatives and integrals may be introduced. They lead, among other things, to the theory of differential and integral equations, in which the unknowns are functions rather than numbers, as in algebraic equations. Differential equations are often the most natural way in which to express the laws governing the behavior of various physical systems. Calculus is one of the most powerful and supple tools of mathematics. Its applications, both in pure mathematics and in virtually every scientific domain, are manifold.

#### Sections in this article:

- Introduction
- In the Twentieth Century
- In the Nineteenth Century
- Western Developments from the Twelfth to Eighteenth Centuries
- Chinese and Middle Eastern Advances
- Greek Contributions
- Development of Mathematics
- Applied Mathematics
- Geometry
- Analysis
- Algebra
- Foundations
- Bibliography

*The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia,* 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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