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Mathematics at TCD 1592-1992

years of
by T. D. Spearman


At least some of the work of Trinity mathematicians of the 18th century was known to their continental counterparts. Hugh Hamilton's Analysis of Infinites was praised by Euler, and Lagrange wrote to William Hales to express his admiration for his book Analysis aequationum. But it was during the nineteenth century that the European links proliferated and flourished. Bartholomew Lloyd imbued his colleagues and students with an increased awareness of the work of their European counterparts. Men like Hamilton and Humphrey Lloyd corresponded with a wide circle of colleagues. Lloyd travelled extensively in connection with his work of magnetism and had close links, for example, with Gauss at Göttingen. Mac Cullagh attended the Congress of Italian Scientists in Turin in 1840, when his friend Charles Babbage was also present. Salmon had many friennds across Europe; his books were translated into French, German and Spanish. Most of these men were Fellows of the Royal Society (Hamilton being a notable exception in this) and were also members of the leading European Academies. Salmon, for example, belonged to the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, to the Royal Academies of Berlin Göttingen and Copenhagen and to the Institute of France. The annual meetings of the British Association provided another opportunity to meet with European colleagues.
When the National Academy of Sciences was founded in the United States Hamilton's name was first in the list of distinguished scientists to be elected Foreign Associates. A Trinity graduate, J.J. Sylvester, was the founder and first editor of the American Journal of Mathematics.
The School of Mathematics today is equally committed to its international connections. The Erasmus exchange programme allows Trinity mathematics students to take part in their course in various European universities and brings others to Dublin in exchange. Students proceed to postgraduate studies in American and European universities. Academic staff are involved in international collaborations, hold visiting appointments in Europe, the United States, India, Australia, and play an active role in such international organizations as the European Science Foundation and the Academia Europaea. On the title page of Hamilton's Lectures on Quaternions we see listed the affiliations and memberships of the author in the various European and American academies including the Institute of France, the Imperial or Royal Academies of St. Petersburgh, Berlin and Turin, the Royal Northern Society of Antiquaries at Copenhagen, the American Society of Arts and Sciences and the New York Historical Society. For some reason which is not well understood, Hamilton never became a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

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