Roger Cotes

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Roger Cotes (1682-1716)

Roger Cotes (born July 10, 1682 in Burbage , Leicestershire , England , † June 5, 1716 in Cambridge , Cambridgeshire , England) was an English mathematician .

Live and act

Cotes father, Roger Cotes sen. was the school principal in Burbage, his mother was a Grace Farmer. Roger had a brother Anthony one year older and a sister Susanna who was one year younger than himself. He first attended Leicester School at the age of twelve . Cote's mathematical talent was noticed early there and was encouraged by his uncle John Smith, who was a clergyman . He attended St. Paul School in London and studied from April 6, 1699 at Trinity College in Cambridge, graduated there in 1702 and became a Fellow of Trinity in 1705 . In 1706 he was made professor of astronomy (the first Plumian professor , named after the donor), recommended by Isaac Newton and others. The associated newly established observatory (Newton donated a clock) was above the large entrance gate of the college. Here Cotes observed z. B. the total solar eclipse of April 22nd, 1715. His skills, however, lay more in the theoretical field (the Royal Astronomer John Flamsteed was a decided opponent of the appointment). In 1711 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society . In 1713 he also entered the clergy - he became a deacon and priest. He died of a sudden fever when he was only 33 .

Roger Cotes was considered the most important mathematician in England after Newton in his time. He worked closely with Isaac Newton , particularly on the second edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica , which arose from 1709 to 1713 in close discussion between the two.

The Newton-Cotes formulas , a method of numerical integration , are named after him.

A bust of Cotes is in the Wren Library in Cambridge.


During his lifetime he published only one treatise "Logometria" (Philosophical Transactions Royal Society, March 1714) on approximations of continued fractions.

Several of his works were published six years after his death in 1722 by Robert Smith under the title Harmonia mensurarum, sive analysis & synthesis per rationum & angulorum mensuras promotae: accedunt alia opuscula mathematica. published in Cambridge. Robert Smith was his cousin he grew up with, later his assistant and successor at Cambridge as Plumian Professor. Among the published work was his work on interpolation (Canonotechnia) and an early version of the least squares method .

In 1738 Smith published the Hydrostatical and Pneumatical Lectures by Cotes. Thomas Simpson published further work by Cotes in 1750 in The Doctrine and Application of Fluxions in London.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. This bust was commissioned by Robert Smith (1689–1768) and sculpted posthumously by Peter Scheemakers (1691–1781) in 1758.
  2. biography in English. School of Mathematics and Statistics. University of St Andrews, Scotland
  3. Sir Isaac Newton (author), J. Edleston (ed.): Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes. (1850), Reprint: Rough Draft Printing (2012), ISBN 1-6038-6450-4