George Boole

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George Boole (pronounced /ˈbuːl/) (2 November 1815 – 8 December 1864) was an English mathematician and philosopher.

As the inventor of Boolean logic—the basis of modern digital computer logic—Boole is regarded in hindsight as a founder of the field of computer science. Boole said,

... no general method for the solution of questions in the theory of probabilities can be established which does not explicitly recognise ... those universal laws of thought which are the basis of all reasoning ...[1]

Contents

Biography

George Boole's father, John Boole(1779–1848), was a tradesman of limited means, but of "studious character and active mind".[2] Being especially interested in mathematical science and logic, the father gave his son his first lessons; but the extraordinary mathematical talents of George Boole did not manifest themselves in early life. At first, his favorite subject was classics.

It was not until his successful establishment of a school at Lincoln, its removal to Waddington, and later his appointment in 1849 as the first professor of mathematics of then Queen's College, Cork in Ireland (now University College Cork, where the library, underground lecture theatre complex and the Boole Centre for Research in Informatics[3] are named in his honour) that his mathematical skills were fully realized. In 1855 he married Mary Everest (niece of George Everest), who later, as Mrs. Boole, wrote several useful educational works on her husband's principles.

To the broader public Boole was known only as the author of numerous abstruse papers on mathematical topics, and of three or four distinct publications that have become standard works. His earliest published paper was the "Researches in the theory of analytical transformations, with a special application to the reduction of the general equation of the second order." printed in the Cambridge Mathematical Journal in February 1840 (Volume 2, no. 8, pp. 64–73), and it led to a friendship between Boole and D.F. Gregory, the editor of the journal, which lasted until the premature death of the latter in 1844. A long list of Boole's memoirs and detached papers, both on logical and mathematical topics, are found in the Catalogue of Scientific Memoirs published by the Royal Society, and in the supplementary volume on Differential Equations, edited by Isaac Todhunter. To the Cambridge Mathematical Journal and its successor, the Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal, Boole contributed twenty-two articles in all. In the third and fourth series of the Philosophical Magazine are found sixteen papers. The Royal Society printed six important memoirs in the Philosophical Transactions, and a few other memoirs are to be found in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Royal Irish Academy, in the Bulletin de l'Académie de St-Pétersbourg for 1862 (under the name G Boldt, vol. iv. pp. 198–215), and in Crelle's Journal. Also included is a paper on the mathematical basis of logic, published in the Mechanic's Magazine in 1848. The works of Boole are thus contained in about fifty scattered articles and a few separate publications.

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