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A collected edition of Playfair's works, with a memoir by James G. Playfair, appeared at Edinburgh in 4 volumes. His writings include a number of essays contributed to the Edinburgh Review from 1804 onwards, various papers in the Phil. Trans. His Elements of Geometry appeared in 1795 and passed through many editions; his Outlines of Natural Philosophy (1812-1816) consist of the propositions and formulae which were the basis of his class lectures. Playfair's contributions to pure mathematics were not considerable, his paper "On the Arithmetic of Impossible Quantities," that "On the Causes which affect the Accuracy of Barometrical Measurements," and his Elements of Geometry, all already referred to, being the most important. His lives of Matthew Stewart, Hutton, Robison, many of his reviews, and above all his "Dissertation" are of the utmost value.
- (including his earliest publication, "On the Arithmetic of Impossible Quantities," 1779, and an "Account of the Lithological Survey of Schehallion," 1811) and in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh ("On the Causes which affect the Accuracy of Barometrical Measurements," &c.), also the articles "Aepinus" and "Physical Astronomy," and a "Dissertation on the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science since the Revival of Learning in Europe," in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Supplement to fourth, fifth and sixth editions).