George Boole, born November 2, 1815, died December 8, 1864, was a British mathematician and philosopher. He is known as the creator of Boolean algebra, the basis of all modern computer arithmetic.
His father was a simple merchant in the city of Lincoln in the west of England. He himself was interested in mathematics and was the one who gave George the first introduction to mathematics. George was also linguistically gifted. At age 12, he translated a poem by Horace into English. His father was so proud that he published the translation.
Boole never received any formal academic training. At age 16, he began as a teacher assistant at a school in Doncaster. In 1835, at age 20, he started his own school and started to study mathematics on his own. He also read the works of Laplace and Lagrange.
His first published study was an article in Cambridge Mathematical Journal, entitled “Theory of analytical transformations.” He came in contact with Duncan Gregory who was then editor of the recently launched magazine. This came to be of great importance for Boole. Gregory tried to get him to take up academic studies at Cambridge, but Boole was dependent on his income as a teacher and had no opportunity to study. However, he began to publish articles in the Cambridge Mathematical Journal, and Gregory got him interested in algebra.
In 1849, he took up a position as Professor of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Cork. He remained at Queen’s College, the rest of his life.
Altogether, Boole has published some 20 articles in the Cambridge Mathematical Journal and about as many other mathematical and philosophical writings. In total there are Boolean works scattered in some 50 smaller items and a few more extensive writings. In 1859, George Boole published his Treatise on Differential Equations and the following year the Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences.
In 1854, he published An investigation into the Laws of Thought, on Which are founded the Matematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. In his paper, he treated the boolean logic in a new way by reducing logic to a simple algebra. Logical statements could be described by the symbolic notation and manipulated according to rules similar to normal mathematics. This was the beginning of what is now called Boolean algebra.
In 1855, he married Mary Everest, niece of Sir George Everest, who was named to honor the world’s highest mountain.
Although Boole’s life was largely simple and modest and he never had any academic or professional positions for his respective contributions to mathematics, he still got a lot of recognition and awards for his work.
In 1864, at only 49 years of age, he was soaked by a rain on the way from his home to his job at Queen’s College. During the day, he taught in wet clothes, which resulted in pneumonia and death.
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