Skip to main content

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 1 Collection or Record:

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), and defends his methodology against possible objections. He then enquires about French geodetic expeditions, sponsored by the Académie des Sciences, to establish whether the earth’s circumference was greater around the...
Dates: 5 February 1743