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I swear I've googled the hell out of this question and have come up with nothing.

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

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because better suited for History of Science and Mathematics Stackexchange. $\endgroup$ – JMoravitz Oct 14 '16 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, I didn't know that existed. However, since that se is still in beta and isn't nearly as active, this question seems fair to post here. $\endgroup$ – user124384 Oct 14 '16 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ You might have luck searching for that information in Boyer's History of Calculus, though I don't see it in the index right away. Perhaps it is under a different name. I would expect the concept to have been known by Newton. $\endgroup$ – JMoravitz Oct 14 '16 at 6:25