Robert Simson began in 1702 to study at the University of Glasgow at the age of 14 years, first but not mathematics but theology, botany, oriententalische Languages and Classical Studies. When he wrote theological works during his studies, which in his view often inaccurate and speculative reasoning displeased him in this area. Looking for a more exact methodology he began at the same time to read mathematical literature, in particular the elements of Euclid. This sparked his interest in mathematics and he now began to study seriously.
As a mathematics professor emeritus Robert Sinclair in 1710, the University of Glasgow Robert Simson offered the Chair. He declined to accept the offer immediately, but first study in London in mathematical figures of his time. After a year in England, he returned in November 1711 after Glasgow back and taught there as a professor of mathematics until his retirement in 1761. Among his pupils in Glasgow included Colin Maclaurin and Matthew Stewart ( † 1785 ).
Robert Simson dealt in particular with the classical Greek mathematicians and published annotated editions of their works. In addition, he worked mostly on geometric problems. The however named after him Samson - Just him was incorrectly attributed. Regardless of Giovanni Domenico Cassini, he discovered that also named after him Samson identity for Fibonacci numbers ( ) and further that the sequence of the ratios of successive Fibonacci numbers converges to the golden ratio ().
As a historian of mathematics, he published in 1723 in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society a study on the Porismen of Euclid ( a lost work which he attempted to reconstruct data in Pappus of Alexandria ), and in 1749 he published his reconstruction of the lost book of Apollonius of Perge loci plani. He is also known for his Latin -English edition of the Elements of Euclid ( first in 1756 in Glasgow, many editions, even in 1933 by Isaac Todhunter ), which Federigo Commandino follows and includes book 1-6, 11 and 12. His edition of the elements has long been the standard output in the UK. Originally it was suggested by Edmond Halley, to deal with the history of mathematics. He also published a textbook on conic sections, which was translated into German by Johann Wilhelm Camerer.