Robert Adrain
Robert Adrain  

Robert Adrain


Born  30 September 1775 Carrickfergus, Ireland 
Died  10 August 1843 New Brunswick, New Jersey 
(aged 67)
Residence  Ireland (17751798) U.S. (17981843) 
Fields  Diophantine algebra Statistics 
Institutions  Queen's College/Rutgers Columbia College University of Pennsylvania 
Known for  Least squares method 
Robert Adrain (30 September 1775 – 10 August 1843) was a scientist and mathematician, considered one of the most brilliant mathematical minds of the time in America.^{1}
He was born in Carrickfergus, Ireland, but left Ireland after being wounded^{2} in the failed uprising of the United Irishmen in 1798 and moved to Princeton, New Jersey. He taught mathematics at various schools in the United States. He was president of the York County Academy in York, Pennsylvania, from 1801 to 1805.
He is chiefly remembered for his formulation of the method of least squares, published in 1808. Adrain certainly did not know of the work of C.F. Gauss on least squares (published 1809), although it is possible that he had read A.M. Legendre's article on the topic (published 1806).
Adrain was an editor of and contributor to the Mathematical Correspondent, the first mathematical journal in the United States. Later he twice attempted to found his own journal, The Analyst, or, Mathematical Museum, but in both the 1808 and 1814 attempts it did not attract sufficient subscribers and quickly ceased publication. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1813.^{3} In 1825 he founded a somewhat more successful publication targeting a wider readership, The Mathematical Diary, which was published through 1832.^{4}
Adrain, Gauss, and Legendre all motivated the method of least squares by the problem of reconciling disparate physical measurements; in the case of Gauss and Legendre, the measurements in question were astronomical, and in Adrain's case they were survey measurements.
Adrain was the father of Congressman Garnett B. Adrain.^{5} Robert Adrain died in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Notes
 ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 16071896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.
 ^ http://archive.org/stream/newinternational01gilm#page/127/mode/1up
 ^ "Book of Members, 17802010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
 ^ Parshall, Karen Hunger; David E. Rowe (1994). The Emergence of the American Mathematical Research Community, 18761900. American Mathematical Society. pp. 43–44. ISBN 0821890042.
 ^ Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Adrain, Robert". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
References
 Attribution
 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Adrain, Robert". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
Further reading
 Webb, Alfred (1878). " Adrian, Robert". A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H. Gill & son. Wikisource
 Robert Adrain. "Research concerning the probabilities of the errors which happen in making observations, &c". The Analyst, or Mathematical Museum. Vol. I, Article XIV, pp 93–109. Philadelphia: William P. Farrand and Co., 1808.
 Brian Hayes. "Science on the Farther Shore". American Scientist, 90(6):499, 2002. (Article may be viewed at: http://www.americanscientist.org/.)
 Thomas Preveraud. « Vers des mathématiques américaines. Enseignements et éditions: de Robert Adrain à la genèse nationale d’une discipline (18001843). », université de Nantes, Centre François Viète.
 Stephen M. Stigler. "Mathematical statistics in the early States". Annals of Statistics, 6:239–265, 1978.
 Struik, D.J (1970). "Robert Adrain". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0684101149.
External links
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