mathematician and writer who devised Simpson's rule, which simplifies the
calculation of areas under graphic curves. He also worked out a formula
that can be used to find the volume of any solid bounded by a ruled surface
and two parallel planes.
Simpson was born in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, and self-educated. After an eclipse of the Sun, he took up astrology and gained a reputation in the locality for divination. But after he had apparently frightened a girl into having fits by 'raising a devil' from her, he was obliged to flee with his wife to Derby. In 1735 or 1736 he moved to London and worked as a weaver at Spitalfields, teaching mathematics in his spare time. It was there that he published his first mathematical works, which won some acclaim. Soon after 1740 he was elected to the Royal Academy of Stockholm, and in 1743 he was appointed professor of mathematics at the Royal Academy in Woolwich, London.
Simpson's first mathematical work, in 1737, was a treatise on 'fluxions' (calculus). This was followed by The Nature and Laws of Chance 1740, The Doctrine of Annuities and Reversions 1742, Mathematical Dissertation on a Variety of Physical and Analytical Subjects 1743, A Treatise of Algebra 1745, Elements of Geometry 1747, Trigonometry, Plane and Spherical 1748, Select Exercises in Mathematics 1752, and Miscellaneous Tracts on Some Curious Subjects in Mechanics, Physical Astronomy and Special Mathematics 1757.