Bowditch, Nathaniel, 1773–1838, American navigator and mathematician, b. Salem, Mass. He had no formal schooling after the age of 10. In 1795 he went to sea, and on five long voyages he carried out his studies in navigation and as a result corrected some 8,000 errors in Moore's Practical Navigator, first published in America in 1799. A new edition appeared under Bowditch's name as The American Practical Navigator (1802–19); it has been published by the U.S. Hydrographic Office since 1867. Bowditch made a translation (4 vol., 1829–39) of Laplace's Mécanique céleste.
See biographies by his son N. I. Bowditch (3d ed. 1884) and P. Rink (1969).
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