Kirkman, Thomas Penyngton (1806–1895)
Thomas Kirkman was an English rector and mathematician who did important work in combinatorics.
His socalled schoolgirls problem,
which he posed in 1850, led to a more general study of certain ways of combining
of objects. He also explored the possibility of finding a route around the
edges of a given polyhedron that passes
through each vertex (corner) of the shape once and only once. His rather
complex and ultimately unprovable ideas were later picked up and refined
successfully by William Hamilton but not
before Kirkman had managed to supply a general proof of the fact that "if
a polyhedron has an odd number of vertices and each face has an even number
of edges, then there is no circuit which passes through all the vertices."
This result introduces the concept of a bipartite graph – a graph that can be divided into two
separate sets of vertices such that every edge in one set joins a vertex.
Related category
• MATHEMATICIANS
