John Colson by John Wollaston
20 January 1760 (aged 79–80)|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Known for||Signed-digit representation|
|Institutions||University of Cambridge|
John Colson was educated at Lichfield School before becoming an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, though he did not take a degree there. He became a schoolmaster at Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School in Rochester, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1713. He was Vicar of Chalk, Kent from 1724 to 1740. He relocated to Cambridge and lectured at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.  From 1739 to 1760 he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. He was also Rector of Lockington, Yorkshire.
In 1726 he published his Negativo-Affirmativo Arithmetik advocating a modified decimal system of numeration. It involved "reduction [to] small figures" by "throwing all the large figures out of a given number, and introducing in their room the equivalent small figures respectively".
- Cooper, Thompson (1887). "Colson, John". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 405–406.
- Robert Bruen (2008). "Lucasian Chair: John Colson". Lucasian Chair.org. Cambridge University. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
- "A Brief History of The Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University" – Robert Bruen, Boston College, May 1995
- John Colson (1726) "A Short Account of Negativo-Affirmativo Arithmetik", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 34:161–73. Available as Early Journal Content from JSTOR.