TRANSACTIONS

, Philosophical, are a collection of the principal papers and matters read before certain philosophical societies, as the Royal Society of London, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. These Transactions contain the several discoveries and histories of nature and art, either made by the members of those societies, or communicated by them from their correspondents, with the various experiments, observations, &c, made by them, or transmitted to them, &c.

The Philos. Trans. of the Royal Society of London were set on foot in 1665, by Mr. Oldenburg, the then secretary of that Society, and were continued by him till the year 1677. They were then discontinued upon his death, till January 1678, when Dr. Grew resumed the publication of them, and continued it for the months of December 1678, and January and February 1679, after which they were intermitted till January 1683. During this last interval their want was in some measure supplied by Dr. Hook's Philosophical Collections. They were also interrupted for 3 years, from December 1687 to January 1691, beside other smaller interruptions amounting to near a year and a half more, before October 1695, since which time the Transactions have been carried on regularly to the present day, with various degrees of credit and merit.

Till the year 1752 these Transactions were published in numbers quarterly, and the printing of them was always the single act of the respective secretaries till that time; but then the society thought fit that a committee should be appointed to consider the papers read before them, and to select out of them such as they should judge most proper for publication in the future Transactions. For this purpose the members of the couneil for the time being, constitute a standing committee: they meet on the first Thursday of every month, and no less than seven of the members of the committee (of which number the president, or in his absence a vice president, is always to be one) are allowed to be a quorum, capable of acting in relation to such papers; and the question with regard to the publication of any paper, is always decided by the majority of votes taken by ballot.

They are published annually in two parts, at the expence of the society; and each fellow, or member, is entitled to receive one copy gratis of every part published after his admission into the society. For many years past, the collection, in two parts, has made one volume in each year; and in the year 1793 the number of the volumes was 83, being 10 less than the number of the year in the century. They were formerly much respected for the great number of excellent papers and discoveries contained in them; but within the last dozen years there has been a great falling off, and the volumes are now considered as of very inferior merit, as well as quantity.

There is also a very useful Abridgment, of those volumes of the Transactions that were published before the year 1752, when the society began to publish the Transactions on their own account. Those to the end of the year 1700 were abridged, in 3 volumes, by Mr. John Lowthorp: those from the year 1700 to 1720 were abridged, in 2 volumes, by Mr. Henry Jones: and those from 1719 to 1733 were abridged, in 2 volumes, by Mr. John Eames and Mr. John Martyn; Mr. Martyn also continued the abridgment of those from 1732 to 1744 in 2 volumes, and of those from 1744 to 1750 in 2 volumes; making in all 11 volumes, of very curious and useful matters in all the arts and sciences.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh, instituted in 1783, have also published 3 volumes of their Philosophical Transactions; which are deservedly held in the highest respect for the importance of their contents.

TRANSCENDENTAL Quantities, among Geometricians, are indeterminate ones; or such as cannot be expressed or fixed to any constant equation: such is a transcendental curve, or the like.

M. Leibnitz has a dissertation in the Acta Erud. Lips. in which he endeavours to shew the origin of such quantities; viz, why some problems are neither plain, solid, nor sursolid, nor of any certain degree, but do transcend all algebraic equations.

He also shews how it may be demonstrated without calculus, that an algebraic quadratrix for the circle or hyperbola is impossible: for if such a quadratrix could be found, it would follow, that by means of it any angle, ratio, or logarithm, might be divided in a given proportion of one right line to another, and this by one universal construction: and consequently the problem of the section of an angle, or the invention of any number of mean proportionals, would be of a certain finite degree. Whereas the different degrees of algebraic equations, and therefore the problem understood in general of any number of parts of an angle, or mean proportionals, is of an indefinite degree, and transcends all algebraical equations.

Others define Transcendental equations, to be such fluxional equations as do not admit of fluents in common finite algebraical equations, but as expressed by means of some curve, or by logarithms, or by infinite series; thus the expression is a Transcendental equation, because the fluents cannot both be expressed in finite terms. And the equation which expresses the relation between an arc of a circle and its sine is a Transcendental equation; for Newton has demonstrated that this relation cannot be expressed by any finite algebraic equation, and therefore it can only be by an infinite or a Transcendental equation.

It is also usual to rank exponential equations among Transcendental ones; because such equations, although expressed in finite terms, have variable exponents, which cannot be expunged but by putting the equation into fluxions, or logarithms, &c. Thus, the exponential | equation .

Transcendental Curve, in the Higher Geometry, is such a one as cannot be defined by an algebraic equation; or of which, when it is expressed by an equation, one of the terms is a variable quantity, or a curve line. And when such curve line is a geometrical one, or one of the first degree or kind, then the Transcendental curve is said to be of the second degree or kind, &c.

These curves are the same with what Des Cartes, and others after him, call mechanical curves, and which they would have excluded out of geometry; contrary however to the opinion of Newton and Leibnitz; for as much as, in the construction of geometrical problems, one curve is not to be preferred to another as it is defined by a more simple equation, but as it is more easily described than that other: besides, some of these Transcendental, or mechanical curves, are found of greater use than almost all the algebraical ones.

M. Leibnitz, in the Acta Erudit. Lips. has given a kind of Transcendental equations, by which these Transcendental curves are actually defined, and which are of an indefinite degree, or are not always the same in every point of the curve. Now whereas algebraists use to assume some general letters or numbers for the quantities sought, in these Transcendental problems Leibnitz assumes general or indefinite equations for the lines sought; thus, for example, putting x and y for the absciss and ordinate, the equation he uses for a line required, is : by the help of which indefinite equation, he seeks for the tangent; and comparing that which results with the given property of tangents, he finds the value of the assumed letters a, b, c, &c, and thus defines the equation of the line sought.

If the comparison abovementioned do not succeed, he pronounces the line sought not to be an algebraical, but a Transcendental one.

This supposed, he proceeds to find the species of Transcendency: for some Transcendentals depend on the general division or section of a ratio, or upon logarithms, others upon circular arcs, &c.

Here then, beside the symbols x and y, he assumes a third, as v, to denote the Transcendental quantity; and of these three he forms a general equation of the line sought, from which he finds the tangent according to the differential method, which succeeds even in Transcendental quantities. This found, he compares it with the given properties of the tangents, and so discovers not only the values of a, b, c, &c, but also the particular nature of the Transcendental quantity.

Transcendental problems are very well managed by the method of fluxions. Thus, for the relation of a circular arc and right line, let a denote the arc, and x the versed sine, to the radius 1, then is ; and if the ordinate of a cycloid be y, then is .

Thus is the analytical calculus extended to those lines which have hitherto been excluded, for no other cause but that they were thought incapable of it.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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