Famous Scottish Mathematicians

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 James Maxwell

James Maxwell
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: June 13, 1831
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 5, 1879

Scottish physicist James Maxwell’s contributions included the formulation of the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation and the production of the first light-fast color photograph. His Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution explored the kinetic theory of gases. He has also written poems and was an Elder of the Church of Scotland.

 2 John Napier

John Napier
Famous As: Inventor of Logarithms
Birthdate: February 1, 1550
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh
Died: April 4, 1617

John Napier was a Scottish mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He is credited with introducing logarithms as a means of simplifying calculations. He also invented Napier's bones, a manually-operated calculating device. In addition to his interest in mathematics, John Napier was also known for his skills as a magician; it is said that he dabbled in necromancy and alchemy.

 3 James Gregory

James Gregory
Famous As: mathematician, astronomer, inventor,university teacher
Birthdate: October 31, 1638
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Drumoak
Died: September 30, 1675

James Gregory was a Scottish astronomer and mathematician. A celebrated mathematician, Gregory served as a professor of mathematics in several institutions like the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews. He is also remembered for publishing several books, including Optica Promota, which describes Gregory's design for a reflecting telescope which came to be known as the Gregorian telescope.

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 4 Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin
Famous As: Edinburgh
Birthdate: February 1, 1698
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Argyll
Died: June 14, 1746

Colin Maclaurin was a Scottish mathematician best remembered for his contributions to algebra and geometry. A child prodigy, Maclaurin became one of the youngest professors in history when he became a professor of mathematics at the age of 19. Colin Maclaurin also contributed immensely to the study of elliptic integrals and is credited with discovering the Euler–Maclaurin formula.

 5 Michael Scot

Michael Scot
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 1175 AD
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: 1232 AD

Michael Scot was a Scottish scholar and mathematician. Widely regarded as the greatest intellectual of the Middle Ages, Scot served as a court astrologer and science adviser to Emperor Frederick II. Michael Scot's life and work have inspired several literary works, including the 2019 novel A Matter of Interpretation by Elizabeth Mac Donald.

 6 D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: May 2, 1860
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 21, 1948

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson was a Scottish mathematician, biologist, and classics scholar. A pioneer of mathematical biology, Thompson is best remembered for writing a book titled On Growth and Form, which is widely admired by architects, anthropologists, and biologists among others. Over the course of his illustrious career, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson received several prestigious awards like the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal.

 7 Peter Tait

Peter Tait
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 28, 1831
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dalkeith, Scotland
Died: July 4, 1901

Peter Tait was a Scottish mathematical physicist best remembered for co-authoring Treatise on Natural Philosophy, a mathematical physics textbook. Tait is also known for his work on knot theory, which helped establish topology as a mathematical discipline. He is also credited with developing the Tait–Kneser theorem. An early pioneer in thermodynamics, Tait also produced original work in experimental physics.

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 8 Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet

Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 10, 1766
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lower Largo, Scotland
Died: November 3, 1832

Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet, was a Scottish physicist and mathematician remembered for conducting research into heat. In 1802, he became the first person to give the first modern account of capillary action. In 1810, Leslie froze water using an air-pump, becoming the first person to produce ice artificially. He is also known for developing a device called Leslie cube.

 9 Robert Simson

Robert Simson
Famous As: Mathematician1768
Birthdate: October 14, 1687
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: October 1, 1768

 10 Thomas Henderson

Thomas Henderson
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1798
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: November 23, 1844

Scottish astronomer Thomas Henderson was the first to measure the parallax of the Alpha Centauri. He was also named the first Astronomer Royal of Scotland. Though initially trained as a lawyer, he later focused on his love for math and astronomy. He also taught at the University of Edinburgh.

 11 James Short

James Short
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 10, 1710
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 14, 1768

The son of a carpenter, James Short was orphaned at 10 but later excelled in studied and became a renowned optician. He then focused on making telescopes and became the first to create parabolic mirrors which produced images without distortions in reflecting telescopes. He was later named a Fellow of The Royal Society.