Who is responsible for coming up with the gradient and why did they do so? In which work was it first described?

I have Googled this extensively, to no avail, and Boyer's History of Calculus does not appear to contain the answer to this.


You can see Nabla symbol as well as VECTOR CALCULUS SYMBOLS :

The vector differential operator, now written $\nabla$ and called nabla or del, was introduced by William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865). Hamilton wrote the operator as a [90°] rotated nabla and it was P.G.Tait who established $\nabla$ as the conventional symbol; see his An Elementary Treatise on Quaternions (1867). Tait was also responsible for establishing the term nabla.

See also :

The vector sum which is the resultant rate of increase of $V$ is denoted by $\nabla V$.

$\nabla V$ represents a directed rate of change of $V$ - a directed or vector derivative of $V$, so to speak. For this reason $\nabla V$ will be called the derivative of $V$; and $V$, the primitive of $\nabla V$. The terms gradient and slope of $V$ are also used for $\nabla V$.


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