# 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Simson, Robert

**SIMSON, ROBERT** (1687-1768), Scottish mathematician, the
eldest son of John Simson of Kirktonhill in Ayrshire, was born
on the 14th of October 1687. He was intended for the church,
but the bent of his mind was towards mathematics, and, when a
prospect opened of his succeeding to the mathematical chair at
the university of Glasgow, he proceeded to London for further
study. After a year in London he returned to Glasgow, and in
1711 was appointed by the university to the professorship of
mathematics, an office which he retained until 1761. He died
on the 1st of October 1768.

Simson's contributions to mathematical knowledge took the form
of critical editions and commentaries on the works of the ancient
geometers. The first of his published writings is a paper in the
*Philosophical Transactions* (1723, vol. xl. p. 330) on Euclid's
Porisms (*q.v.*). Then followed *Sectionum conicarum libri V.*
(Edinburgh, 1735), a second edition of which, with additions,
appeared in 1750. The first three books of this treatise were translated
into English, and several times printed as *The Elements of the*
*Conic Sections*. In 1749 was published *Apollonii Pergaei locorum*
*planorum libri II.*, a restoration of Apollonius's lost treatise, founded
on the lemmas given in the seventh book of Pappus's *Mathematical*
*Collection*. In 1756 appeared, both in Latin and in English, the
first edition of his Euclid's *Elements*. This work, which contained
only the first six and the eleventh and twelfth books, and to which
in its English version he added the *Data* in 1762, was for long the
standard text of Euclid in England. After his death restorations
of Apollonius's treatise *De sectione determinata* and of Euclid's
treatise *De porismatibus* were printed for private circulation in
1776 at the expense of Earl Stanhope, in a volume with the title
*Roberti Simson opera quaedam reliqua*. The volume contains also
dissertations on *Logarithms* and on the *Limits of Quantities and*
*Ratios*, and a few problems illustrative of the ancient geometrical
analysis.

See W. Trail, *Life and Writings of Robert Simson* (1812); C.
Hutton, *Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary* (1815).