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(Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 2 (1844), 424–434.)

Edited by David R. Wilkins 1999

and the four real quantities w. Hamilton. By Sir William R. Read November 13. 2 (1844). x. pp. x = wx + xw + yz − zy . so that q + q = w + w + i(x + x ) + j(y + y ) + k(z + z ). z are real. w . 1 (D) . y=y. y. j. ik = −j. Sir W. k being supposed to exist. ki = j. z.On a new Species of Imaginary Quantities connected with a theory of Quaternions.] It is known to all students of algebra that an imaginary equation of the form i2 = −1 has been employed so as to conduct to very varied and important results. y. Their multiplication is. x . ji = −k. kj = −i. y . and w. 424–434. 1843. z he calls the constituents thereof. Quaternions are added or subtracted by adding or subtracting their constituents. in virtue of the deﬁnitions (A) (B) (C). or equations between a system of three diﬀerent imaginary quantities: i2 = j 2 = k 2 = −1 ij = k. z = wz + zw + xy − yx . [Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. x. y = wy + yw + zx − xz . vol. x=x. Hamilton proposes to consider some of the consequences which result from the following system of imaginary equations. z=z. (A) (B) (C) no linear relation between i. w = ww − xx − yy − zz . so that the equation q=q. Sir Wm. eﬀected by the formulae qq = q = w + ix + jy + kz . Hamilton calls an expression of the form q a quaternion. q = w + ix + jy + kz . in which q = w + ix + jy + kz. is equivalent to the four separate equations w=w. jk = i.

of the other factor q . co-latitude and longitude. cos θ = cos θ cos θ + sin θ sin θ cos r r. Then. cos θ = cos θ cos θ + sin θ sin θ (cos φ cos φ + sin φ sin φ cos(ψ − ψ )). r r . z (prolonged if necessary) intersects the spheric surface described about the origin with a radius equal to unity. and complete the spherical triangle rr r by drawing the arcs rr . let also the other angle θ be called the amplitude of the quaternion. or of the quaternion q itself. (F) (G) Consider x. y. y. r r. so that a quaternion is completely determined by its modulus. and let r be the point where the radius vector of x. Construct the representative points r and r . then. The modulus of the product of any two quaternions is therefore equal to the product of the moduli. Let w = µ cos θ. z as the rectangular coordinates of a point of space. because the equations (D) give w w + x x + y y + z z = w(w 2 + x 2 + y 2 + z 2 ). (E) 2 +x 2 +y 2 +z 2 = (w2 + x2 + y 2 + z 2 )(w 2 + x 2 + y 2 + z 2 ). call r the representative point of the quaternion q. and let the polar coordinates φ and ψ. the modulus of the quaternion q.which give w and therefore µ = µµ . be called the co-latitude and the longitude of the representative point r. and of the product q . cos θ = cos θ cos θ + sin θ sin θ(cos φ cos φ + sin φ sin φ cos(ψ − ψ )). y = µ sin θ sin φ cos ψ. amplitude. x = µ sin θ cos φ. ww + xx + yy + zz = w (w2 + x2 + y 2 + z 2 ). we have cos θ = cos θ cos θ − sin θ sin θ (cos φ cos φ + sin φ sin φ cos(ψ − ψ )). cos θ = cos θ cos θ + sin θ sin θ cos r r . the equations (G) become cos θ = cos θ cos θ − sin θ sin θ cos rr . if we call the positive quantity µ= w2 + x2 + y 2 + z 2 . 2 . z = µ sin θ sin φ sin ψ. which determine r upon the sphere.

or calculus. one directed to r. and the supplement (to two right angles) of the amplitude of the product. and equal to sin r cos r . (K) Of these equations (K). that the product-point r is to the right or left of the multiplicand-point r . r =π−θ . and the radius being unity. while the sum 3 . the centre of the sphere being origin. according to the rules of quaternions. The equations (D) show. α β γ be the rectangular coordinates of r. It is not diﬃcult to prove this theorem otherwise. or indicated. according to the fundamental deﬁnitions (A) (B) (C). and directed towards that pole of the arc rr . It results from these principles. already employed in these remarks. another directed to r . A new sort of algorithm. namely that a force = sin r . The three other equations (K) are an expression of another theorem (which possibly is new). A change in the order of the two quaternion-factors would throw the product-point r from the right to the left. according as the semiaxis of +z (or its intersection with the spheric surface) is to the right or left of the semiaxis of +y. we ﬁnd that it is equivalent to the system of the four following real equations. or equations between real quantities: − cos r = cos r cos r − (αα + ββ + γγ ) sin r sin r . which serves to connect a side of any spherical triangle with the three angles thereof. r =θ. and if the rotation round +x from +y to +z be of the same (right-handed or left-handed) character as that round r from r to r . directed from the centre of the sphere to the point r . further. also. γ sin r = γ sin r cos r + γ sin r cos r + (αβ − βα ) sin r sin r . and α β γ of r . or from the left to the right of rr . each coordinate α will tend to become = 1. with respect to the multipler-point r. (H) these angles are therefore respectively equal to the amplitudes of the factors. and each β and γ to vanish. α β γ those of r . with respect to the semiaxis of +x: that is. then the following formula of multiplication. α sin r = α sin r cos r + α sin r cos r + (βγ − γβ ) sin r sin r . which lies at the same side of this arc as r .and consequently shew that the angles of the triangle rr r are r = θ. appears to be thus given. for spherical trigonometry. β sin r = β sin r cos r + β sin r cos r + (γα − αγ ) sin r sin r . will hold good: {cos r+(iα + jβ + kγ) sin r}{cos r + (iα + jβ + kγ ) sin r } = − cos r + (iα + jβ + kγ ) sin r . that if rr r be any spherical triangle. is statically equivalent to the system of three other forces. but it may be regarded as interesting to see that the four equations (K) are included so simply in the one formula (I) of multiplication of quaternions. and equal to sin r cos r. the ﬁrst is only an expression of the well-known theorem. And by supposing the three corners of the spherical triangle rr r to tend indeﬁnitely to close up in that one point which is the intersection of the spheric surface with the positive semiaxis of x. if. and are obtained so easily by developing and decomposing that formula. according as the positive direction of rotation in longitude is towards the right or left. and the third equal to sin r sin r sin rr . (I) Developing and decomposing this imaginary or symbolic formula (I).

it is necessary and suﬃcient that we should have w = 0. (M) we have also. β. To distinguish one such imaginary unit from another. and then the formula of multiplication (I) becomes. and the product of these two products is unity. in general. (L) which may be called an imaginary unit. and they diﬀer only in their signs. because. as connected with plane trigonometry. taken in the opposite order. sin φ sin ψ) for its rectangular coordinates. is found to result.of the three angles will tend to become = π. from the more general formula (I). is positive. so that the following well known and important equations in the usual calculus of imaginaries. ir ir . (cos r + ir sin r)(cos r + ir sin r ) = − cos r + ir sin r . x2 + y 2 + z 2 = +1. (cos r + i sin r)(cos r + i sin r ) = cos(r + r ) + i sin(r + r ). because its modulus is = 1. for any spherical triangle. the expression ir ir = − cos rr − ip sin rr . or the pole to which the least rotation from r round r is positive. should have its square = −1.ir ir = 1. γ (or cos φ. (N) which diﬀers only in the sign of the imaginary part. r (L ) r being still that point on the spheric surface which has α. which gives i2 = −1. (in which i2 = −1). we have. (I ) If p be the positive pole of the arc rr . to the extended expression √ −1 = i cos φ + j sin φ cos ψ + k sin φ sin ψ. for the product of the same two factors. sin φ cos ψ. in order that a quaternion. In the present theory. in which the rotation round r. 4 (P) (O) . w + ix + jy + kz. is the following: ir ir = − cos rr + ip sin rr . In the ordinary theory there are only two diﬀerent square roots of negative unity (+i and −i). namely. ir = iα + jβ + kγ. (w + ix + jy + kz)(w − ix − jy − kz) = w2 + x2 + y 2 + z 2 . as a limiting case. therefore. and the products ir ir and ir ir may be said to be reciprocals of each other. and its square is negative unity. then the product of the two imaginary units in the ﬁrst member of this formula (which may be any two such units). we are conducted. from r to r . we may adopt the notation. therefore.

q .. and which may have for its type the formula q. or multiply ﬁrst q by q.q q . and each less than two right angles. although the distributive character of the multiplication of ordinary algebraic quantities (real or imaginary) extends to the operation of the same name in the theory of quaternions. (A). r .ir ir . . yet the commutative character is lost.q q = qq . we might easily prove the equation (P). in virtue of the theorem (Q). whether we ﬁrst multiply q as a multiplicand by q as a multiplier. to be such that the rotations round r from r to r . . r . the following formula holds good: (cos r + ir sin r)(cos r + ir sin r )(cos r + ir sin r ) · · · (cos r(n−1) + ir(n−1) sin r(n−1) ) = (−1)n . &c. which. r r In the same manner it is seen at once that ir ir .In general. ji = −ij. qIV = qq .. that π − r + π − r + π − r + · · · + π − r(n−1) = 2π. . and the formula (R) agrees then with the known relation. it is not diﬃcult to prove that for any spherical polygon rr . 5 . and so on. round r from r to r . it will be found that another important property of the old multiplication is preserved. ir(n−1) ir = (−1)n . since we have. q.q q = qq q .q q q = qq .q . the notation qq q being employed to express that one determined quaternion. and therefore plane. . and then multiply the product q q as a multiplicand by q as a multiplier. for simplicity. (C). namely. generally. .q . in virtue of the same deﬁnitions. for example. and may be denoted by the common symbol i. in virtue of the fundamental equations of deﬁnition. or extended to the new. q. r . . (R) which includes the theorem (I ) for the case of a spherical triangle. so that q(q + q ) = qq + qq . by observing that its ﬁrst member = ir i2 ir = −i2 = 1. though it is easy to interpret the expression so as to include also the cases where any or all of these conditions are violated. When the polygon becomes inﬁnitely small. . (Q) (Q ) and so on for any number of factors. and then q by qq . and in which the arrangement of the n points may be supposed. With the help of this principle. are all positive. the imaginary units become all equal to each other.q q qIV . r(n−1) : and by combining this principle with that expressed by (M). qq = q q. (P ) whatever n points upon the spheric surface may be denoted by r. that which may be called the associative character of the operation. is obtained. thus we have. and we cannot generally write for the new as for the old imaginaries. However. (B).ir ir . r(n−1) .

which involves two arbitrary angles. and analogous theorems respecting spherical pentagons and other polygons may be deduced. on principles already laid down. x . raising the modulus µ to the proposed real power. when it is q multiplied as a multiplicand by q as a multiplier. or from a construction of spherical trigonometry. and if n be any whole number. while w. q 2w − q q−1 q = = q . by the exponent q: thus (µ(cos θ + ir sin θ))q = µq (cos q(θ + 2nπ) + ir sin q(θ + 2nπ)). or −1. In general. by treating the square root of −1 which it involves as an imaginary unit ir having (in general) a ﬁxed direction. like an ordinary imaginary quantity. q q . (w + ix + jy + kz)−1 = w − ix − jy − kz . y . (T) if q be real. z . (S ) q µ2 if we deﬁne q−1 q or q to mean that quaternion q which gives the product q . The general expression (S) for a quaternion may be raised to any power with a real exponent q.Again. let r. x. and let r . The same general formula (S ) of division may easily be deduced from the equation (O). being both included in the formula. and the same general quaternion q may be considered as a root of a quadratic equation. in the same manner as an ordinary imaginary expression. are given. y. z . respectively. a quaternion has in general two. q . and multiplying the amplitude θ. qq q . (µ(cos θ + ir sin θ)) 2 = µ 2 1 1 cos 6 θ + nπ + ir sin 2 θ + nπ 2 . qq . (T ) . by writing that equation as follows. a quaternion q. as the four sought quantities. r . y . diﬀerent square roots. For example. the extended meaning (L).&c. r be. (S ) which easily conducts to the following expression for a quotient. derived by multiplication from the former. z. by treating the four constituents of the multiplicand. w 2 + x2 + y 2 + z 2 (O ) or it may be obtained from the four general equations of multiplication (D). x . and only two. namely q2 − 2wq + µ2 = 0. then the algebraical principle expressed by the formula (Q) may be geometrically enunciated by saying that the two points r and r are the foci of a spherical conic which touches the four sides of the spherical quadrilateral rr r r . and w . by constructing similarly the formulæ (q’). with real coeﬃcients. the representative points of any three quaternions q. namely w . (S) √ 1 provided that we assign to (−1) 2 . may be put under the form. q . 1 1 q = µ(cos θ + (−1) 2 sin θ) = w + (−1) 2 r. and they diﬀer only in their signs. or formula for the division of quaternions. r . r be the representative points of the three other quaternions. increased or diminished by any whole number of circumferences.

does not in general hold good. by deﬁnition. for abridgment q q2 q2 f (Q) = 1 + + + + &c.2. If we make. And although the ordinary property of exponential functions. (V) when put under the form (f (w + ir r))q = f (w + ir r ). will then give {w + ir (r + 2n π)}{w − ir (r + 2nπ)} . to the case where the exponent q becomes itself a quaternion. in the particular case where the original quaternion reduces itself to a real and negative quantity.. and log µ being the natural. with a direction altogether arbitrary. namely f (q). although. logarithm of µ. of which the function f is equal to the given real and positive modulus µ. in other words.f (q ) = f (q + q ). are included in the expression 1 2nπ 2nπ 1 3 = cos + ir sin . or simply (−µ) 2 = µ 2 ir . so that θ = π. (U ) u being any whole number. and which will probably appear in the twenty-ﬁrst volume of the Transactions of the Academy. (T ) 3 3 ir denoting here again an imaginary unit. which gives. whatever quaternion q may be. reciprocally. is found to involve two independent whole numbers n and n . The general equation. unless the two quaternions q and q be codirectional. this formula (T ) becomes (−µ) 2 = ±µ 2 ir . or Napierian. q= 7 (V ) (U ) . as in the theories of Graves and Ohm. and we can always separate its real and imaginary parts by the formula f (w + ir r) = f (w)(cos r + ir sin r). (U) 1 1. 1 1 1 1 (T ) the direction of i√ remaining here entirely undetermined. which are cube roots of unity. yet we may raise the function f to any real power by the formula (f (w + ir r))q = f (q(w + ir r + 2nπ)). For other developments and applications of the new theory.in which it is useless to assign to n any other values than 0 and 1. (V ) w2 + (r + 2nπ)2 and thus the general expression for a quaternion q. that real quantity. positive or negative. or. it is necessary to refer to the original paper from which this abstract is taken.3 the series here indicated will be always convergent. (U ) which it is natural to extend. which is one of the logarithms of a given quaternion q to a given base q . a result agreeing with the expression r (L) or (L ) for −1. for the inverse function f −1 . qq = q . respecting the general logarithms of ordinary imaginary quantities to ordinary imaginary bases. In like manner the quaternions. in the present theory.2 1. the expression f −1 (µ(cos θ + ir sin θ)) = log µ + ir (θ + 2nπ).

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