Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > The Literature of Science > Sir William Rowan Hamilton
  De Morgan J. J. Sylvester  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VIII. The Literature of Science.

§ 6. Sir William Rowan Hamilton.

(Sir) William Rowan Hamilton was among the first of a small but brilliant school of mathematicians connected with Trinity College, Dublin, where he spent his life. We regard his papers on optics and dynamics as specially characteristic of his clearness of exposition: theoretical dynamics being properly treated as a branch of pure mathematics. He is, however, best known by his introduction, in 1852, of quaternious as a method of analysis. Hamilton, followed, later, by authorities so good as P.G> Tait of Cambridge and Edinburg, A. Macfarlane of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania and C.J. Joly of Dublin, asserted that this would be found to be a potent instrument of research; but, as a matter of fact, though it lends itself to concise and elegant demonstrations, it is but little used by mathematicians to-day. In connection with Dublin, at this time, we must also mention the name of George Salmon, provost of Trinity College, whose works on analytical geometry and higher algebra are classical examples of how advanced textbooks should be written, and that of (Sir) Robert Stawell Ball, first, of Dublin and, later, of Cambridge, who produced a classical treatise on the theory of screws.   18

  De Morgan J. J. Sylvester  
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