The story of William Rowan Hamilton’s discovery of new four-dimensional numbers called quaternions is familiar. The solution of a problem that had bothered him for years occurred to him in a flash of insight as he walked along the Royal Canal in Dublin. But this Eureka moment did not arise spontaneously: it was the result of years of intense effort. The great French mathematician Henri Poincaré also described how sudden inspiration occurs unexpectedly, but always following a period of concentrated research [TM148, or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

## Posts Tagged 'Hamilton'

### The Many Modern Uses of Quaternions

Published October 4, 2018 Irish Times 1 CommentTags: Algebra, Hamilton

### The next Hamilton

Published September 15, 2016 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Hamilton, History, Ireland

William Rowan Hamilton was Ireland’s greatest mathematician. His name is heard thousands of times every day throughout the world when researchers use the Hamiltonian function that encapsulates the dynamics of a vast range of physical systems. He achieved fame early in life and remains one of the all-time great scientists. [TM099, or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

### Old Octonions may rule the World

Published October 16, 2014 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Algebra, Hamilton, Number Theory

This week’s *That’s Maths* column in *The Irish Times* (TM055, or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com) is about octonions, new numbers discovered by John T Graves, a friend of William Rowan Hamilton.

### Robots & Biology

Published January 16, 2014 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Applied Maths, Hamilton, Mechanics, modelling

The article in this week’s *That’s Maths* column in the* Irish Times* ( TM037 ) is about connections between robotics and biological systems via mechanics.

The application of mathematics in biology is a flourishing research field. Most living organisms are far too complex to be modelled in their entirety, but great progress is under way in simulating individual organs and modelling specific functions such as blood-flow and locomotion.

### Admirably Appropriate

Published August 1, 2013 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Applied Maths, Hamilton

The topic of the *That’s Maths* column ( TM026 ) in the* Irish Times* this week is the surprising and delightful way in which mathematics developed for its own sake turns out to be eminently suited for solving practical problems.

### Santa’s TSP Algorithm

Published December 20, 2012 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Algorithms, Hamilton

This week’s *That’s Maths* column ( TM011 ) discusses the challenge faced by Santa Claus: he has about a billion homes to visit in one night, so he needs to be smart in picking his route. The challenge he faces is called the *Travelling Salesman Problem,* or TSP. Continue reading ‘Santa’s TSP Algorithm’