John Napier

Scottish mathematician, physicist, and astronomer

John Napier (he also signed as Neper, and Nepair)[1] 1550 – 4 April 1617) was a Scottish landowner, nicknamed "Marvellous Merchiston". He was a mathematician, physicist, and astronomer. He was the 8th Laird of Merchiston. His Latinized name was Ioannes Neper.

John Napier
John Napier.jpg
John Napier (1550–1617)
Died4 April 1617(1617-04-04) (aged 66–67)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews
Known forLogarithms
Napier's bones
Decimal notation
Scientific career
InfluencedHenry Briggs

John Napier is best known as the discoverer of logarithms. He also invented the so-called "Napier's bones" and made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic and mathematics.[2]


  1. "Napier". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. Cajori F. A history of mathematics. 2nd ed, p149. New York: Macmillan.

Napier's 'bones' were used to find the products and quotients of numbers