In mathematics, the Newtonian potential or Newton potential is an operator in vector calculus that acts as the inverse to the negative Laplacian, on functions that are smooth and decay rapidly enough at infinity. As such, it is a fundamental object of study in potential theory. In its general nature, it is a singular integral operator, defined by convolution with a function having a mathematical singularity at the origin, the Newtonian kernel Γ which is the fundamental solution of the Laplace equation. It is named for Isaac Newton, who first discovered it and proved that it was a harmonic function in the special case of three variables, where it served as the fundamental gravitational potential in Newton's law of universal gravitation. In modern potential theory, the Newtonian potential is instead thought of as an electrostatic potential.