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Mathematics

Institutional records and personal papers for prominent figures in the history of mathematics, including Alexander C. Aitken, Colin Campbell, and Colin Maclaurin.

Alexander C. Aitken (1895-1967) was Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University from 1946 to 1965. He made many important contributions to the fields of numerical mathematics, statistics, and, in particular, the algebra of matrices. Besides professional papers and correspondence, the collection includes substantial materials relating to Aitken's First World War experience and to his activities as a highly accomplished amateur musician.

Colin Campbell of Achnaba (1644-1726) was a church minister and noted mathematician who won the admiration of Sir Isaac Newton. The collection includes mathematical papers and letters from fellow mathematicians in addition to sermon notes, scripture expositions, and songs and verse in Gaelic.

David Gregory (1659-1708) was Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University from 1683 to 1692. He is best known for his influential textbook 'Astronomiae Physicae et Geometricae Elementa', the first work to apply the language of Newtonian gravitation to astronomy. The collection includes manuscripts of lectures, of mathematical and astronomical treatises, and of mathematical and personal papers. It also includes works by David Gregory’s brother James Gregory (1666-1742), who succeeded him in the Edinburgh Chair of Mathematics in 1692. See also Lectures by David Gregory for student transcriptions of his lectures.

Colin Maclaurin (1698-1746) was Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University from 1725 to 1746. He is celebrated for extending Newton's work in the fields of calculus, geometry, and gravitation. The collection consists of mathematical papers and dissertations, manuscripts of Maclaurin's published works, and correspondence with fellow mathematicians. This item is a manuscript transcription of Maclaurin's lectures on algebra taken down (possibly by a student) in 1735.

Having studied Mathematics at Edinburgh University, Edward Sang (1805-1890) pursued a highly diverse career as a surveyor, civil engineer, teacher of mathematics, and Professor of Mechanical Science (Manchester New College). The papers cover a variety of mathematical subjects including geometry and algebra, trigonometry, the theory of variables, driving belt calculations, and load-bearing calculations for the Forth Rail Bridge.

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