10 May William Rowan Hamilton
Dead: 2 September 1865
He was an Irish mathematician.
While still an undergraduate he was appointed Andrews professor of Astronomy and Royal Astronomer of Ireland, and lived at Dunsink Observatory.
He made important contributions to optics, classical mechanics and algebra.
Although Hamilton was not a physicist–he regarded himself as a pure mathematician–his work was of major importance to physics, particularly his reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, now called Hamiltonian mechanics.
This work has proven central to the modern study of classical field theories such as electromagnetism, and to the development of quantum mechanics.
In pure mathematics, he is best known as the inventor of quaternions.
Hamilton is said to have shown immense talent at a very early age.
Hamilton's predecessor as Royal Astronomer of Ireland and later Bishop of Cloyne Dr. John Brinkley remarked of the 18-year-old Hamilton, 'This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.'