Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Adrain, Robert

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ADRAIN, ROBERT (1775–1843), mathematician, was born at Carrickfergus in Ireland, 30 Sept. 1775. He headed a company of insurgents in the rebellion of 1798, but contrived, though badly wounded, to escape to America, where he became a school teacher, first at Princeton, New Jersey, and afterwards at York and at Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1810 he was appointed professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, passed thence, at the end of three years, to Columbia College, New York, and was transferred in 1827 to the university of Pennsylvania, where he attained the dignity of vice-provost. He appears to have returned to New York in 1834, and he certainly occupied his former post in Columbia College when he edited Ryan's ‘Algebra,’ in 1839. He died at New Brunswick, 10 Aug. 1843. His mathematical powers, and a creditable acquaintance with the work of French geometers, were displayed in two papers communicated to the American Philosophical Society in 1817 (Transactions, 1818, vol. i. new series), entitled respectively, ‘Investigation of the Figure of the Earth, and of the Gravity in different Latitudes,’ and ‘Research concerning the mean Diameter of the Earth.’ He started two journals for the discussion of mathematical subjects, the ‘Analyst,’ published at Philadelphia, 1808, &c., and the ‘Mathematical Diary,’ of which eight numbers appeared at New York, 1825–7. He also edited Hutton's ‘Mathematics,’ and belonged to several learned societies, both in Europe and America.

A. M. C.