William R. Hamilton contributed an article entitled On a General Method of expressing the Paths of Light and of the Planets by the Coefficients of a Characteristic Function to the November issue of the Dublin University Review and Quarterly Magazine in 1833.
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The article commences with a history of the study of optics, and of the use of variational principles in this science. Hamilton then introduces his characteristic function, and explains how it can be employed in the study of mathematical optics. He concludes the article with a brief discussion of an analogous characteristic function in dynamics, applying his theory to the case of a comet moving in a parabola about the sun.