# 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saunderson, Nicholas

**SAUNDERSON**, or Sanderson, **NICHOLAS** (1682–1739),
English mathematician, was born at Thurlstone, Yorkshire, in
January 1682. When about a year old he lost his sight through
smallpox; but this did not prevent him from acquiring a knowledge
of Latin and Greek, and studying mathematics. In 1707
he began lecturing at Cambridge on the principles of the Newtonian
philosophy, and in November 1711 he succeeded William
Whiston, the Lucasian professor of mathematics in Cambridge.
He was created doctor of laws in 1728 by command of George II.,
and in 1736 was admitted a member of the Royal Society. He
died of scurvy, on the 19th of April 1739.

Saunderson possessed the friendship of many of the eminent
mathematicians of the time, such as Sir Isaac Newton, Edmund
Halley, Abraham De Moivre and Roger Cotes. His senses of hearing
and touch were extraordinarily acute, and he could carry on mentally
long and intricate mathematical calculations. He devised a calculating
machine or abacus, by which he could perform arithmetical
and algebraical operations by the sense of touch; this method is
sometimes termed his *palpable arithmetic*, an account of which is
given in his elaborate *Elements of Algebra* (2 vols., Cambridge, 1740).
Of his other writings, prepared for the use of his pupils, the only one
which has been published is *The Method of Fluxions* (1 vol., London,
1756). At the end of this treatise there is given, in Latin,
an explanation of the principal propositions of Sir Isaac Newton's
philosophy.