# Hamilton , Sir William Rowan

- Hamilton , Sir William Rowan
*(1805–1865) Irish mathematician*

Hamilton was a child prodigy, and not just in mathematics; he also managed to learn an extraordinary number of languages, some of them very obscure. In 1823 he entered Trinity College in his native city of Dublin, and four years later at the age of 22 was appointed professor of astronomy and Astronomer Royal for Ireland; these posts were given to him in order that he could continue to research unhampered by teaching commitments.

In 1827 he produced his first original work, in the theory of optics, expounded in his paper *A Theory of Systems of Rays*. In 1832 he did further theoretical work on rays, and predicted conical refraction under certain conditions in biaxial crystals. This was soon confirmed experimentally. In dynamics he introduced *Hamilton's equations* – a set of equations (similar to equations of Joseph Lagrange) describing the positions and momenta of a collection of particles. The equations involve the*Hamiltonian function*, which is used extensively in quantum mechanics. *Hamilton's principle* is the principle that the integral with respect to time of the kinetic energy minus the potential energy of a system is a minimum.

One of Hamilton's most famous discoveries was that of*quaternions*. These are a generalization of complex numbers with the property that the commutative law does not hold for them (i.e.,*A* × *B* does not equal *B* × *A*). Hamilton's discovery of such an algebraic system was important for the development of abstract algebra; for instance, the introduction of matrices. Hamilton spent the last 20 years of his life trying to apply quaternions to problems in applied mathematics, although the more limited theory of vector analysis of Josiah Willard Gibbs was eventually preferred. Toward the end of his life Hamilton drank increasingly, eventually dying of gout.

*Scientists.
Academic.
2011.*

### Look at other dictionaries:

**Hamilton, Sir William Rowan** — ▪ Irish mathematician and astronomer born August 3/4, 1805, Dublin, Ireland died September 2, 1865, Dublin Irish mathematician who contributed to the development of optics, dynamics, and algebra in particular, discovering the algebra of… … Universalium

**Sir William Rowan Hamilton** — William Rowan Hamilton Sir William Rowan Hamilton (* 4. August 1805 in Dublin; † 2. September 1865 in Dunsink, bei Dublin) war ein irischer Mathematiker und Physiker, der vor allem für seine Beiträge zur Mechanik und für seine Entdeckung und… … Deutsch Wikipedia

**HAMILTON, SIR WILLIAM ROWAN** — an eminent mathematician, born in Dublin; such was his precocity that at 13 he was versed in thirteen languages, and by 17 was an acknowledged master in mathematical science; while yet an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, he was… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

**Sir William Rowan Hamilton** — noun Irish mathematician (1806 1865) • Syn: ↑Hamilton, ↑William Rowan Hamilton • Instance Hypernyms: ↑mathematician … Useful english dictionary

**William Rowan Hamilton** — Sir William Rowan Hamilton (* 4. August 1805 in Dublin; † 2. September 1865 in Dunsink, bei Dublin) war ein irischer Mathematiker und Physiker, der vor allem für seine Beiträge zur Mechanik und für seine Einführung und Untersuchu … Deutsch Wikipedia

**William Rowan Hamilton** — infobox Scientist name = William Hamilton caption = William Rowan Hamilton birth date = birth date|df=yes|1805|8|4 birth place = Dublin, Ireland death date = death date and age|df=yes|1865|9|2|1805|8|4 death place = Dublin, Ireland residence =… … Wikipedia

**William Rowan Hamilton** — Para otros usos de este término, véase Hamilton. William Rowan Hamilton. Sir William Rowan Hamilton (4 de agosto de 1805 – 2 de septiembre de 1865) fue un matemático, físico, y astrónomo irlandés … Wikipedia Español

**William Rowan Hamilton** — noun Irish mathematician (1806 1865) • Syn: ↑Hamilton, ↑Sir William Rowan Hamilton • Instance Hypernyms: ↑mathematician … Useful english dictionary

**William Rowan Hamilton** — Sir William Rowan Hamilton (4 de agosto de 1805 – 2 de setiembre de 1865 fue un matemático, físico, y astrónomo irlandés, que hizo importantes contribuciones al desarrollo de la óptica, la dinámica, y el álgebra. Su descubrimiento del cuaternión… … Enciclopedia Universal

**William Rowan Hamilton** — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hamilton et William Hamilton. William Rowan Hamilton William Rowan Hamilton (1805 1865) … Wikipédia en Français