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George Boole
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person 1815-11-02 - 1864-12-08. An English mathematician
best known for his contribution to symbolic logic (BooleanAlgebra) but also active in other fields such as probability
theory, algebra, analysis, and differential equations. He
lived, taught, and is buried in Cork City, Ireland. The Boole
library at University College Cork is named after him.
For centuries philosophers have studied logic, which is
orderly and precise reasoning. George Boole argued in 1847
that logic should be allied with mathematics rather than with
Demonstrating logical principles with mathematical symbols
instead of words, he founded symbolic logic, a field of
mathematical/philosophical study. In the new discipline he
developed, known as Boolean algebra, all objects are divided
into separate classes, each with a given property; each class
may be described in terms of the presence or absence of the
same property. An electrical circuit, for example, is either
on or off. Boolean algebra has been applied in the design of
binary computer circuits and telephone switching equipment.
These devices make use of Boole's two-valued (presence or
absence of a property) system.
Born in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK, George Boole was the son of
a tradesman and was largely self-taught. He began teaching at
the age of 16 to help support his family. In his spare time
he read mathematical journals and soon began to write articles
for them. By the age of 29, Boole had received a gold medal
for his work from the British Royal Society. His
'Mathematical Analysis of Logic', a pamphlet published in
1847, contained his first statement of the principles of
symbolic logic. Two years later he was appointed professor of
mathematics at Queen's College in Ireland, even though he had
never studied at a university.