William Rowan Hamilton

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hamilton, William Rowan


Born Aug. 4, 1805, in Dublin; died Sept. 2, 1865, in Dunsink, near Dublin. Irish mathematician; member of the Irish Academy of Sciences. He became a professor of astronomy at the University of Dublin and director of the university’s astronomical observatory in 1827.

In 1833-35, in the Transactions of the Irish Academy of Sciences, Hamilton published a work in which, almost simultaneously with H. Grassmann, he gave an exact formal presentation of the theory of complex numbers and constructed an original system of numbers, the so-called quaternions. This study was one of the sources for the development of vector calculus. In mechanics, Hamilton used the variational method (the so-called Hamilton principle).


The Mathematical Papers, vols. 1-2. Cambridge, 1931-40.


Graves, R. P. Life of Sir W. R. Hamilton, vols. 1-3. Dublin, 1882-91.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.