This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. (May 2010)
The Calculus ratiocinator is a theoretical universal logical calculation framework, a concept described in the writings of Gottfried Leibniz, usually paired with his more frequently mentioned characteristica universalis, a universal conceptual language.
The history of the modern computing machine goes back to Leibniz and Pascal. Indeed, the general idea of a computing machine is nothing but a mechanization of Leibniz's calculus ratiocinator. (Wiener 1948: 214)
...like his predecessor Pascal, [Leibniz] was interested in the construction of computing machines in the Metal. ... just as the calculus of arithmetic lends itself to a mechanization progressing through the abacus and the desk computing machine to the ultra-rapid computing machines of the present day, so the calculus ratiocinator of Leibniz contains the germs of the machina ratiocinatrix, the reasoning machine (Wiener 1965: 12)
Leibniz constructed just such a machine for mathematical calculations, which was also called a Stepped Reckoner. As a computing machine, the ideal calculus ratiocinator would perform Leibniz's integral and differential calculus. In this way the meaning of the word, "ratiocinator" is clarified and can be understood as a mechanical instrument that combines and compares ratios.
Hartley Rogers saw a link between the two, defining the calculus ratiocinator as "an algorithm which, when applied to the symbols of any formula of the characteristica universalis, would determine whether or not that formula were true as a statement of science" (Hartley Rogers, Jr. 1963; p. 934).
A classic discussion of the calculus ratiocinator is Couturat (1901: chapters 3 and 4), who maintained that the characteristica universalis—and thus the calculus ratiocinator—were inseparable from Leibniz's encyclopedic project (chapter 5). Hence the characteristic, calculus ratiocinator, and encyclopedia form three pillars of Leibniz's project.
Edited: 2021-06-18 18:05:58