Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

William Hamiltons Mathematical Studies

It looks like Hamilton never used assistance or help when he developed his mathematical studies. His writing was so unique he created a mathematical school of his own. He was an excellent arithmetical calculator, sometimes he found amusement in calculating mathematical results to a large number of decimal places.

He was introduced to modern analysis at the age of ten years, when accidentally fallen in with a Latin copy of Euclid, which he devoured. To years later he attacked Newton’s Arithmetica universalis. Hamilton soon started to read the Principia, and four years after that he finished reading most of the mathematic fundamentals.

1822 he started to study Laplace’s Mécanique Céleste. Hamilton detected an important error in one of Laplace’s demonstrations, and he was encouraged by a friend to show his discovery to Dr. John Brinkley, who was the first royal astronomer, and an acknowledged mathematician. Brinkley immediately saw the extraordinary talents of young William, and encouraged him to proceed with his studies.

At the age of 18 he started his career at College. It is reported that he usually was the best in every sector and every test. For instance he was excellent both in Greek and Physics.

Hamilton followed Dr. John Brinkley to the Andrews professorship of astronomy in the university of Dublin at the age of just 22, located at the Dunsink Observatory. Hamilton was not specially fitted for the post, because had was doing regular work of the practical astronomer very much. Hamilton’s time was better utilised in explorations and studies.