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    Thomas Simpson. Miscellaneous Tracts... London: Nourse, 1757. First edition. Includes discussions of the third and ninth sections of Newton's Principia. Near fine. Rare.

    More Information:

    Octavo. [viii], 179, [1, ads] pages. With three engraved folding plates. Bound to style in later full brown calf, burgundy gilt morocco lettering label on spine. Some mild wear to binding, some toning, occasional thumbsoiling in text. Near fine.

    It is not often that an original single volume (rather than a later often posthumous compilation) brings together disparate, major elements of research work by a renowned scientist. The current volume, with the unassuming name of Miscellaneous Tracts is such a work. The first three chapters deal with problems in astronomy. Chapter four is the first book appearance of Simpson's important paper on taking the average. It first appeared in the Philosophical Transactions, Vol. 49, pp. 82-93, 1755. The current version was revised in light of comments on the original paper by Thomas Bayes. While taking the average of several observations had been done since antiquity, it was up to Simpson in this paper to prove that more often the mean of several observations is nearer the truth than any single observation. The fifth and sixth chapters deal with problems in fluxions (calculus) and algebra with reference to Newton's work. The eighth chapter contains discussions of the third and ninth parts of Isaac Newton's Principia as they relate to mechanics and physical astronomy (see Ball-Short Account of the History of Mathematics, 1908). Thus, the volume touches on and advances thinking in most of the critical physical and mathematical science areas of the mid eighteenth century. Thomas Simpson (1710-1761) was a renowned British mathematician. The son of a weaver, he was estranged from his father and began informally the study of mathematics. His first work A New Treatise of Fluxions (1737) was self-published. It was the result of two years of devoted effort in which the author solved several questions which had been recently proposed involving infinitesimal calculus. Despite Simpson's limited formal background, the volume contained many useful astronomical and mathematical applications and provided the first derivative of the sine function. Simpson is best remembered for his work on interpolation and numerical methods of integration. It is interesting that, while "Simpson's rule" did appear in his writings, the method itself was due to Isaac Newton, a fact Simpson readily acknowledged. In 1750 Simpson published the two volume The Doctrine and Application of Fluxions. It contained work of Roger Cotes and is considered by many to be the best work on Newton's calculus of the eighteenth century. The current scarce volume, published four years before Simpson's death, was his last major publication.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    6th Wednesday
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