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Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin (/məˈklɔːrən/; Scottish Gaelic: Cailean MacLabhruinn;

Colin Maclaurin

February 1698 – 14 June 1746)[1] was a Scottish mathematician who made

important contributions to geometry and algebra.[2] The Maclaurin series,

a special case of the Taylor series, is named after him.

Owing to changes in orthography since that time (his name was originally

rendered as “M‘Laurine”[3]), his surname is alternatively written

MacLaurin.[4]

Contents

Early life

Academic career

Contributions to mathematics Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746)

Notable works Kilmodan, Cowal,

See also

Argyll, Scotland

Sources 48)

Edinburgh, Scotland

Further reading

Residence Scotland

Nationality Scottish

Early life Citizenship Great Britain

Maclaurin was born in Kilmodan, Argyll. His father, Reverend and Alma mater University of Glasgow

Minister of Glendaruel John Maclaurin, died when Maclaurin was in

Known for Euler–Maclaurin

infancy, and his mother died before he reached nine years of age. He was

formula

then educated under the care of his uncle, the Reverend Daniel Maclaurin,

Maclaurin's inequality

minister of Kilfinan.

Maclaurin series

Maclaurin spheroid

Academic career Integral test for

convergence

At eleven, Maclaurin entered the University of Glasgow. He graduated MA

three years later by defending a thesis on the Power of Gravity, and Awards Grand Prize of the

remained at Glasgow to study divinity until he was 19, when he was elected French Academy of

professor of mathematics in a ten-day competition at the Marischal College Sciences

in the University of Aberdeen. This record as the world's youngest Scientific career

professor endured until March 2008, when the record was officially given Fields Mathematician

to Alia Sabur.[5]

Institutions Marischal College,

In the vacations of 1719 and 1721, Maclaurin went to London, where he Aberdeen

became acquainted with Sir Isaac Newton, Dr Benjamin Hoadly, Samuel University of

Clarke, Martin Folkes, and other philosophers. He was admitted a member Edinburgh

of the Royal Society. Academic Robert Simson

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In 1722, having provided a substitute for his class at Aberdeen, he travelled advisors

on the Continent as tutor to George Hume, the son of Alexander Hume, Notable Robert Adam

2nd Earl of Marchmont. During their time in Lorraine, he wrote his essay students

on the percussion of bodies (Demonstration des loix du choc des corps),

which gained the prize of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1724. Upon the death of his pupil at Montpellier,

Maclaurin returned to Aberdeen.

In 1725, Maclaurin was appointed deputy to the mathematical professor at Edinburgh, James Gregory (brother of

David Gregory and nephew of the esteemed James Gregory), upon the recommendation of Isaac Newton. On 3

November of that year Maclaurin succeeded Gregory, and went on to raise the character of that university as a school

of science. Newton was so impressed with Maclaurin that he had offered to pay his salary himself.

Contributions to mathematics

Maclaurin used Taylor series to characterize maxima, minima, and points

of inflection for infinitely differentiable functions in his Treatise of

Fluxions. Maclaurin attributed the series to Taylor, though the series was

known before to Newton and Gregory, and in special cases to Madhava of

Sangamagrama in fourteenth century India.[6] Nevertheless, Maclaurin

received credit for his use of the series, and the Taylor series expanded

around 0 is sometimes known as the Maclaurin series (Grabiner 1997).

of ellipsoids, a subject that furthermore attracted the attention of

d'Alembert, A.-C. Clairaut, Euler, Laplace, Legendre, Poisson and Gauss.

Maclaurin showed that an oblate spheroid was a possible equilibrium in Illustration of critique of De

Newton's theory of gravity. The subject continues to be of scientific fluxionibus libri duo published in

interest, and Nobel Laureate Subramanyan Chandrasekhar dedicated a Acta Eruditorum, 1747

chapter of his book Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium to Maclaurin

spheroids. (Grabiner 1997)

discovered the Euler–Maclaurin formula. He used it to sum powers of

arithmetic progressions, derive Stirling's formula, and to derive the

Newton-Cotes numerical integration formulas which includes Simpson's

rule as a special case. (Grabiner 1997)

intractable integrals to problems of finding arcs for hyperbolas. His work

was continued by d'Alembert and Euler, who gave a more concise

approach.(Grabiner 1997)

In his Treatise of Algebra (Ch. XII, Sect 86), published in 1748 two years

after his death, Maclaurin proved a rule for solving square linear systems

in the cases of 2 and 3 unknowns, and discussed the case of 4 unknowns.[7] Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746)

[8] This publication preceded by two years Cramer's publication of a

generalization of the rule to n unknowns, now commonly known as

Cramer's rule.

Personal life

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the Solicitor General for Scotland, by whom he had seven children. His

eldest son John Maclaurin studied Law, was a Senator of the College of

Justice, and became Lord Dreghorn; he was also joint founder of the Royal

Society of Edinburgh.[9]

the operations necessary for the defence of Edinburgh against the

Highland army. Maclaurin compiled a diary of his exertions against the Colin MacLaurin Road, Edinburgh

Jacobites, both within and without the city.[10] When the Highland army

entered the city, however, he fled to York, where he was invited to stay by

the Archbishop of York.

On his journey south, Maclaurin fell from his horse, and the fatigue, anxiety, and

cold to which he was exposed on that occasion laid the foundations of dropsy. He

returned to Edinburgh after the Jacobite army marched south, but died soon after

his return.

Mathematician and former MIT President Richard Cockburn Maclaurin was from

the same family.

The Maclaurin Society (MacSoc), the Mathematics and Statistics Society at Glasgow

University, is named in his honour.

named in his honour.

Memorial, Greyfriars

Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Notable works

Some of his important works are:

De Linearum Geometricarum Proprietatibus - 1720

Treatise on Fluxions - 1742 (763 pages in two volumes. The first systematic exposition of Newton's methods.)

Treatise on Algebra - 1748 (two years after his death.)

Account of Newton's Discoveries - Incomplete upon his death and published in 1750 or 1748 (sources disagree)

Colin Maclaurin was the name used for the new Mathematics and Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics Building at

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

See also

Braikenridge–Maclaurin theorem

Trisectrix of Maclaurin

References

1. http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Extras/Turnbull_Maclaurin_1.html Turnbull lectures on Colin

Maclaurin (4 February 1947), Part I

2. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Maclaurin, Colin" (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Brit

annica/Maclaurin,_Colin). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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2/7/2019 Colin Maclaurin - Wikipedia

ac.uk/Extras/Maclaurin_EMS_notes.html). (Note that the quotation in [1] (http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~his

tory/Extras/Turnbull_Maclaurin_1.html) has been altered.)

4. (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20080229073702/http://www.m-a.org.uk/docs/library/2064.pdf (https://web.arch

ive.org/web/20080229073702/http://www.m-a.org.uk/docs/library/2064.pdf). Archived from the original (http://ww

w.m-a.org.uk/docs/library/2064.pdf) (PDF) on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. Missing or empty

|title= (help)

5. David McNeill (1 May 2008). "University appoints world's youngest professor" (https://www.independent.co.uk/ne

ws/world/asia/university-appoints-child-prodigy-worlds-youngest-professor-818776.html). The Independent.

6. "Neither Newton nor Leibniz – The Pre-History of Calculus and Celestial Mechanics in Medieval Kerala" (https://w

eb.archive.org/web/20060806040307/http://www.canisius.edu/topos/rajeev.asp). MAT 314. Canisius College.

Archived from the original (http://www.canisius.edu/topos/rajeev.asp) on 6 August 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2006.

7. MacLaurin, Colin (1748). A Treatise of Algebra, in Three Parts (https://archive.org/details/atreatisealgebr03maclgo

og).

8. Hedman, Bruce (November 1999). "An Earlier Date for "Cramer's Rule" ". Historia Mathematica. Academic Press

Elsevier. 26 (4): 365–368. doi:10.1006/hmat.1999.2247 (https://doi.org/10.1006%2Fhmat.1999.2247).

9. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (https://www.royalsoced.org.u

k/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp2.pdf) (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006.

ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.

10. Maclaurin, Colin (2004), "Colin Maclaurin's 'Journal of the Forty-five' ", in Hedman, Bruce, Miscellany XIII of the

Scottish History Society Fifth Series volume 14, Edinburgh, Scotland: Lothian Print, pp. 312–322

Sources

Anderson, William, The Scottish Nation, Edinburgh, 1867, vol.VII, p. 37.

Ball, W. W. Rouse (1908). A Short Account of the History of Mathematics (http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/P

eople/Maclaurin/RouseBall/RB_Maclaurin.html) (4th ed.). pp. 384–387. Retrieved 2008-01-20.

"Overview of Colin Maclaurin" (http://www.scottish-places.info/people/famousfirst829.html). Gazetteer for

Scotland. University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences. Retrieved 2008-01-20.

Friedman, Erich. "Colin Maclaurin" (http://www.stetson.edu/~efriedma/periodictable/html/Mg.html). Periodic Table

of Mathematicians. Stetson University. Retrieved 2008-01-20.

O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Colin Maclaurin" (http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographie

s/Maclaurin.html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.

Sageng, Erik, 2005, "A treatise on fluxions" in Grattan-Guinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western

Mathematics. Elsevier: 143-58.

Tweddle, Ian (November 1998). "The prickly genius—Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746)" (https://web.archive.org/web/

20071031133538/http://www.m-a.org.uk/docs/library/2064.pdf) (PDF). The Mathematical Gazette. Leicester:

Mathematical Association. 82 (495): 373–378. doi:10.2307/3619883 (https://doi.org/10.2307%2F3619883).

JSTOR 3619883 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3619883). Archived from the original (http://www.m-a.org.uk/docs/lib

rary/2064.pdf) (PDF) on 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2008-01-20.

Grabiner, Judith (May 1997). "Was Newton's Calculus a Dead End? The Continental Influence of Maclaurin's

Treatise of Fluxions" (http://scholarship.claremont.edu/pitzer_fac_pub/121) (PDF). The American Mathematical

Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. 104 (5): 393–410. doi:10.2307/2974733 (https://doi.org/10.2307%

2F2974733). JSTOR 2974733 (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2974733).

Further reading

Bruce A. Hedman, "Colin Maclaurin's quaint word problems," College Mathematics Journal 31 (2000), 286-288.

Bruneau, Olivier (2011). Colin Maclaurin, l'obstination mathématicienne d'un newtonien. Presses Universitaires de

Nancy.

Sageng, Erik (2006) [2004]. "MacLaurin, Colin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford

University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17643 (https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fref%3Aodnb%2F17643). (Subscription or

UK public library membership (http://www.oxforddnb.com/help/subscribe#public) required.)

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