Colin Maclaurin
Colin Maclaurin  

Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746)
 
Born  February 1698 
Died  14 June 1746 (aged 48) 
Residence  Scotland 
Nationality  Scottish 
Citizenship  Great Britain 
Alma mater  University of Glasgow 
Known for 
Euler–Maclaurin formula Maclaurin's inequality Maclaurin series Maclaurin spheroid Integral test for convergence 
Awards  Grand Prize of the French Academy of Sciences 
Scientific career  
Fields  Mathematician 
Institutions 
Marischal College, Aberdeen University of Edinburgh 
Academic advisors  Robert Simson 
Notable students  Robert Adam 
Colin Maclaurin (/məˈklɔːrən/; Scottish Gaelic: Cailean MacLabhruinn;^{[pronunciation?]} 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
Maclaurin was born in Kilmodan, Argyll. His father, Reverend and Minister of Glendaruel John Maclaurin, died when Maclaurin was in infancy, and his mother died before he reached nine years of age. He was then educated under the care of his uncle, the Reverend Daniel Maclaurin, minister of Kilfinan.
Academic career
At eleven, Maclaurin entered the University of Glasgow. He graduated MA three years later by defending a thesis on the Power of Gravity, and remained at Glasgow to study divinity until he was 19, when he was elected professor of mathematics in a tenday competition at the Marischal College in the University of Aberdeen. This record as the world's youngest professor endured until March 2008, when the record was officially given to Alia Sabur.^{[5]}
In the vacations of 1719 and 1721, Maclaurin went to London, where he became acquainted with Sir Isaac Newton, Dr Benjamin Hoadly, Samuel Clarke, Martin Folkes, and other philosophers. He was admitted a member of the Royal Society.
In 1722, having provided a substitute for his class at Aberdeen, he travelled on the Continent as tutor to George Hume, the son of Alexander Hume, 2nd Earl of Marchmont. During their time in Lorraine, he wrote his essay 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).
Maclaurin also made significant contributions to the gravitation attraction 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 Newton's theory of gravity. The subject continues to be of scientific interest, and Nobel Laureate Subramanyan Chandrasekhar dedicated a chapter of his book Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium to Maclaurin spheroids. (Grabiner 1997)
Independently from Euler and using the same methods, Maclaurin discovered the Euler–Maclaurin formula. He used it to sum powers of arithmetic progressions, derive Stirling's formula, and to derive the NewtonCotes numerical integration formulas which includes Simpson's rule as a special case. (Grabiner 1997)
Maclaurin contributed to the study of elliptic integrals, reducing many 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]} ^{[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
In 1733, Maclaurin married Anne Stewart, the daughter of Walter Stewart, 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]}
Maclaurin actively opposed the Jacobite rising of 1745 and superintended the operations necessary for the defence of Edinburgh against the Highland army. Maclaurin compiled a diary of his exertions against the 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.
He is buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.
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.
Colin MacLaurin Road within Edinburgh University's King's Buildings complex is named in his honour.
Notable works
Some of his important works are:
 Geometria Organica  1720
 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 HeriotWatt University, Edinburgh.
See also
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Colin Maclaurin (category)

References
 ^ http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/~history/Extras/Turnbull_Maclaurin_1.html Turnbull lectures on Colin Maclaurin (4 February 1947), Part I
 ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Maclaurin, Colin". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
 ^ "Colin Maclaurin: A Biographical Note" by Robin Schlapp (6 December 1946). (Note that the quotation in [1] has been altered.)

^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20080229073702/http://www.ma.org.uk/docs/library/2064.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. Missing or empty
title=
(help)  ^ David McNeill (1 May 2008). "University appoints world's youngest professor". The Independent.
 ^ "Neither Newton nor Leibniz – The PreHistory of Calculus and Celestial Mechanics in Medieval Kerala". MAT 314. Canisius College. Archived from the original on 6 August 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2006.
 ^ MacLaurin, Colin (1748). A Treatise of Algebra, in Three Parts.
 ^ 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.
 ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
 ^ Maclaurin, Colin (2004), "Colin Maclaurin's 'Journal of the Fortyfive'", 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 (4th ed.). pp. 384–387. Retrieved 20080120.
 "Overview of Colin Maclaurin". Gazetteer for Scotland. University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences. Retrieved 20080120.
 Friedman, Erich. "Colin Maclaurin". Periodic Table of Mathematicians. Stetson University. Retrieved 20080120.
 O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Colin Maclaurin", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
 Sageng, Erik, 2005, "A treatise on fluxions" in GrattanGuinness, I., ed., Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics. Elsevier: 14358.
 Tweddle, Ian (November 1998). "The prickly genius—Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746)" (PDF). The Mathematical Gazette. Leicester: Mathematical Association. 82 (495): 373–378. doi:10.2307/3619883. JSTOR 3619883. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20071031. Retrieved 20080120.
 Grabiner, Judith (May 1997). "Was Newton's Calculus a Dead End? The Continental Influence of Maclaurin's Treatise of Fluxions" (PDF). The American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. 104 (5): 393–410. doi:10.2307/2974733. JSTOR 2974733.
Further reading
 Bruce A. Hedman, "Colin Maclaurin's quaint word problems," College Mathematics Journal 31 (2000), 286288.
 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. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
 1698 births
 1746 deaths
 18thcentury British mathematicians
 Burials at Greyfriars Kirkyard
 Alumni of the University of Glasgow
 Academics of the University of Edinburgh
 Academics of the University of Aberdeen
 Deaths from edema
 Fellows of the Royal Society
 Scottish mathematicians
 Members of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh
 People from Glendaruel