Anderson, Alexander (1582-1619?) (DNB00)

ANDERSON, ALEXANDER (1582–1619?), mathematician, was native of Aberdeen. Little is certainly known about him; but the year 1582 is assigned as that of his birth on the authority of a print representing him in 1617 as of the age of thirty-five. He taught mathematics in Paris early in the seventeenth century, and appears to have been a friend of Vieta, who died in 1603, and whose posthumous writings he edited with great ability, developing much that was only indicated, and demonstrating much that was barely stated. He alludes more than once to the poverty of his circumstances; abstruse studies and the neglect of common and easy life brought him, he tells us, more wisdom than riches (Vindiciæ Archimedis, Dedication). He is not heard of after 1619, the date of his last publication, and is accordingly believed to have died about that time. The celebrated James Gregory was, on the mother's side, connected with his family. His works are as follows:—

  1. ‘Supplementum Apollonii Redivivi,’ Paris, 1612, in which he displays a remarkable command of the ancient analysis, and supplies the deficiencies in Ghetaldi's attempted restoration of the lost book of Apollonius Περὶ νεύσεων
  2. Αὶτιολογία pro Zetetico Apolloniani Problematis à se jam pridem edito in supplemento Apollonii Redivivi,’ Paris, 1615, an addition to the preceding.
  3. ‘Francisci Vietæ de Equationum recognitione et emendatione tractatus duo,’ Paris, 1615, contain Vieta's improvements in the transformation and reduction of algebraical equations, with an appendix by Anderson, showing that the solution of cubic equations can be made to depend upon the trisection of an angle.
  4. ‘Ad Angularium Sectionum Analyticen Theoremata καθολικώτερα,’ Paris, 1615, dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales, adds to Vieta's theorems on angular sections demonstrations subsequently incorporated in the edition of the French algebraist's works published by Schooten, at Leyden, in 1646.
  5. ‘Vindiciæ Archimedis,’ Paris, 1616, refutes the claim of Lansberg, a Belgian astronomer, to have solved the problem of the quadrature of the circle, and criticises Kepler's ‘Stereometria.’
  6. ‘Animadversionis in Franciscum Vietam à Clemente Cyriaco nuper editæ brevis Διάκρισις,’ Paris, 1617.
  7. ‘Exercitationum Mathematicarum Decas Prima,’ Paris, 1619. Two works of Anderson on stereometry seem to have perished. One is mentioned by himself (Ex. Math.), and copies of both (the second entitled ‘Stereometria Triangulorum Sphæricorum’) were in possession of Sir Alexander Hume until long after the middle of the seventeenth century.

[Correspondence of Scientific Men (Rigaud), ii. 178, 515; Montucla, Hist. d. Math. (1799–1802), i. 606, ii. 5; Hutton, Phil. and Math. Dict. (1815), i. 90, 115; De Morgan in S.D.U.K. Dictionary (1842–4), ii. 577; Abstract of Geom. Writings of A. A. (T. S. Davies), App. to Ladies' Diary, 1840.]

A. M. C.