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Roger Cotes













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ROGER COTES (1682-1716), English mathematician and philosopher, was born on the 10th of July 1682 at Burbage, Leicestershire, of which place his father, the Rev. Robert Cotes, was rector. He was educated at Leicester school, and afterward at St Paul's school, London. Proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1699, he obtained a fellowship in 1705, and in the following year was appointed Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy in the university of Cambridge. He took orders in 1713; and the same year, at the request of Dr Richard Bentley, he published the second edition of Newton's Principia with an original preface. He died on the 5th of June 1716, leaving unfinished a series of elaborate retearches on optics, and a large amount of unpublished manuscript. He contributed two memoirs to the Philosophical Transactions, one, "Logometria," which discusses the calculation of logarithms and certain applications of the infinitesimal calculus, the other, a "Description of the great fiery meteor seen on March 6th, 1716." After his death his papers were collected and published by his cousin and successor in the Plumian chair, Dr Robert Smith, under the title Harmonia Mensurarum (1722). This work included the "Logometria," the trigonometrical theorem known as "Cotes' Theorem on the Circle" (see TRIGONOMETRY), his theorem on harmonic means, subsequently developed by Colin Maclaurin, and a discussion of the curves known as "Cotes' Spirals," which occur as the path of a particle described under the influence of a central force varying inversely as the cube of the distance. In 1738 Dr Robert Smith published Cotes' Hydrostatical and Pneumatical Lectures, a work which was held in great estimation. The exceptional genius of Cotes earned encomiums from both his contemporaries and successors; Sir Isaac Newton said, "If Mr Cotes had lived, we should have known something."



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