Robert Simson (14 October 1687 – 1 October 1768) was a British mathematician and
son of John Simson of Kirktonhall, West Kilbride in Ayrshire, Robert
Simson was intended for the Church, but the bent of his mind was
He was educated at the University of
Glasgow and graduated MA.
prospect opened of his succeeding to the mathematical chair at the
Glasgow, Simson proceeded to London for further
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.
Simson's contributions to mathematical knowledge took the form of
critical editions and commentaries on the works of the ancient
. The first of his published
writings is a paper in the Philosophical Transactions
(1723, vol. xl. p. 330) on Euclid
Then followed Sectionum conicarum libri V.
1735), a second edition of which, with additions, appeared in 1750.
The first three books of this treatise
translated into English and, several times, printed as The
Elements of the Conic Sections
In 1749, was published Apollonii Pergaei locorum planorum libri
, a restoration of Apollonius
's lost treatise, founded on
given in the seventh
book of Pappus
In 1756, appeared, both in Latin
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
1762, was for long the standard text of Euclid in England.
After Simson's death, restorations of Apollonius's treatise De
and of Euclid's treatise De
were printed for private circulation in 1776, at
the expense of Earl Stanhope
, in a
volume with the title Roberti Simson opera quaedam
. The volume contains also dissertations on
and on the Limits
of Quantities and Ratios
, and a few problems illustrating the
ancient geometrical analysis.
The pedal line
of a triangle
is sometimes called the "Simson line"
- W Trail, Life and Writings of Robert Simson
- C Hutton, Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary