WALK HONOURS IRISH MATHEMATICIAN
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[ October 13th 2001 ]

A walk along the Royal Canal is planned next week to mark the day in 1843 when Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton created the Quaternion - an advanced mathematical concept - while strolling from the Dunsink Observatory to Dublin with his wife on 16th October, the Irish Times reports today.

During the eighteen hundreds, considerable thought was concentrated on the amalgamation of complex numbers and their relationships. Mathematicians questioned that if a rule for multiplying two numbers existed, did a similar rule exist for multiplying three.

Hamilton, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, stumbled upon the solution while walking along the Royal Canal, and carved the answer in the stone of a bridge to document his formula. Hamilton had discovered that the solution for the multiplication of three numbers was "four dimensional." By setting the forth dimension to zero, Hamilton thus invented a rule which he called a "proper quaternion."

Quaternionís are used today to design computer games and helped create the famous character, Lara Croft, in Core Designs Tomb Raider video-game series. The public are invited on the guided walk, planned for Tuesday, October 16th. Details are available from the NUI Maynooth Mathematics Department at 01-708-3651.

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