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George Boole

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

philosophy.

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.