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MacLaurin, Colin, 1698-1746 (mathematician)



  • Existence: 1698 - 1746


Colin Maclaurin, born in Kilmodan, Argyll, was a Scottish mathematician who made important contributions to geometry and algebra. The 'Maclaurin series', a special case of the 'Taylor series', is named after him.

At the age of eleven, Colin Maclaurin entered the University of Glasgow, graduating with the degree of MA three years later with a thesis on the Power of Gravity. He remained at Glasgow to study divinity until he was 19, when he was elected Professor of Mathematics at the Marischal College in the University of Aberdeen.

Maclaurin taught a 3-year course from elementary to advanced mathematics, beginning with arithmetic and Euclid, and working up to the Principia and the method of fluxions. He also taught experimental philosophy, surveying, fortification, geography, theory of gunnery, astronomy, and optics. He wrote his A Treatise of Algebra at this time and for use in his courses, although it did not appear in print until after his death.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Autograph Letter Signed from Colin MacLaurin to Jean-Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan, 5 February 1743

 Item — Box CLX-A-1702
Identifier: Coll-1848/21-0023
Scope and Contents This collection consists of a letter written, in French, by Colin Maclaurin, to Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, Perpetual Secretary of the French Académie des Sciences. Maclaurin first discusses his major work, the Treatise of Fluxions (1742), a rigorous and systematic defence of Newtonian calculus. Maclaurin acknowledges that foreign readers might be surprised by his methodology but explains that he wished to meet potential scientific and philosophical...
Dates: 5 February 1743

Colin Campbell Collection

Identifier: Coll-38
Scope and Contents The Colin Campbell Collection contains Gaelic verse, mainly songs; sermon notes and scripture expositions, the earliest being 1703; manuscript treatises; Colin Campbell correspondence, the earliest being 1664; miscellaneous manuscripts including domestic accounts, medical papers, minutes etc; notebooks, accounts, letters and scraps of Patrick Campbell of Achnaba; letters from mathematicians to Colin Campbell, and mathematical papers; a body of accounts, the earliest being 1553; a body of...
Dates: 1553-1836

Student manuscript copy of Colin MacLaurin's Treatise of Algebra

Identifier: Coll-1812
Content Description These are manuscript lecture notes on algebra... notes of 'A Treatise of Algebra' by Colin MacLaurin. Although the writer is unknown (a student?), the ms volume bears a label... an armorial Melville bookplate... possibly that of Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville.The volume is noted...: 'A Treatise of Algebra by Mr McLaurin Professor of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. part 1. 1735'.The last five pages are 'Concerning the Art of Measuring Land'....
Dates: 1735

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