TAG: Quaternions

August 25, 2011–Peter Barendse 0

One fall evening in 1843, a man walked past the Brougham Bridge along the Royal Canal in Dublin, Ireland. Suddenly, he felt a flash of insight so strong he was compelled to etch his thoughts into the rock on the side of the bridge. This is what he wrote:

i^{2}=j^{2}=k^{2}=ijk= -1

The man was mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, and the insight was of a number system that could represent forces and motions in three-dimensional space. Hamilton called his numbers “quaternions”, because each has four parts: a real number part, and three other parts labeled with *i*, *j*, and *k*, each of which is also a real number. For example, 2 + 3*i* + 0.342*j* – 2*k* is a quaternion. More »