The Theory of Quaternions is due to Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Royal As-tronomer of Ireland, who presented his ﬁrst paper on the subject to the RoyalIrish Academy in 1843. His Lectures on Quaternions were published in 1853,and his Elements, in 1866, shortly after his death. The Elements of Quaternionsby Tait is the accepted text-book for advanced students.The following development of the theory is prepared for average studentswith a thorough knowledge of the elements of algebra and geometry, and isbelieved to be a simple and elementary treatment founded directly upon thefundamental ideas of the subject. This theory is applied in the more advancedexamples to develop the principal formulas of trigonometry and solid analyticalgeometry, and the general properties and classiﬁcation of surfaces of secondorder.In the endeavour to bring out the
idea of Quaternions, and at thesame time retain the established nomenclature of the analysis, I have found itnecessary to abandon the term “
” for a directed length. I adopt insteadCliﬀord’s suggestive name of “
,” leaving to “
” the sole meaning of “
.” This brings out clearly the relations of this number andline, and emphasizes the fact that Quaternions is a natural extension of ourfundamental ideas of number, that is subject to ordinary principles of geometricrepresentation, rather than an artiﬁcial species of geometrical algebra.The physical conceptions and the breadth of idea that the subject of Quater-nions will develop are, of themselves, suﬃcient reward for its study. At the sametime, the power, directness, and simplicity of its analysis cannot fail to proveuseful in all physical and geometrical investigations, to those who have thor-oughly grasped its principles.On account of the universal use of analytical geometry, many examples havebeen given to show that Quaternions in its semi-cartesian form is a direct devel-opment of that subject. In fact, the present work is the outcome of lectures thatI have given to my classes for a number of years past as the equivalent of theusual instruction in the analytical geometry of space. The main features of thisprimer were therefore developed in the laboratory of the class-room, and I de-sire to express my thanks to the members of my classes, wherever they may be,for the interest that they have shown, and the readiness with which they haveexpressed their diﬃculties, as it has been a constant source of encouragementand assistance in my work.I am also otherwise indebted to two of my students,—to Mr. H. B. Stilz forthe accurate construction of the diagrams, and to Mr. G. Willius for the plan(upon the cover) of the plagiograph or mechanical quaternion multiplier whichwas made by him while taking this subject. The theory of this instrument iscontained in the step proportions that are given with the diagram.
ARTHUR S. HATHAWAY.
See Example 19, Chapter I.