Monday’s Google Doodle features a man, who pretty much laid the foundations for today’s information age. George Boole, who would’ve turned 200 today, according to a University College Cork (UCC) website dedicated to him, “was an English mathematician, philosopher and logician whose work touched the fields of differential equations, probability and algebraic logic. He is now best known as the author of

*The Laws of Thought*”.
Boole was the first Professor of Mathematics in the then Queen’s College, Cork (now known as UCC), founded in 1849. He served the university for 15 years until his death in 1864. His seminal contribution to mathematics (and logic) came in 1854, when Boole introduced the “Boolean algebra” in his book,

*A**n Investigation of the Laws of Thought*.
Conrad Wolfram in

*The Financial Times*writes, “This applied the systematic language of algebra to the field of logic—a unification of two disparate fields into something much more powerful. It centres on the simple idea of statements that are true or false.” He adds, “There is an appealing simplicity about true versus false, and it is this characteristic that makes Boolean algebra so useful for computer engineers, who can work in ‘on’ and ‘off’ rather than exact voltages with all their variability. Boole’s logic predicts what happens for each of these binary states. What is so unexpected is that ‘true’, ‘false’ and a few simple logical operations such as ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ can be combined to make an equation that can add, multiply, compare, remember and much more. Indeed 80 years later, Alan Turing—the British mathematician who developed the first electronic computer—would prove you needed only these simple operations to compute anything (if it was at all computable). From the great simplicity of base logic, we have built the most complex of machines.”
The impact of Boole’s legacy and the importance of his work was the subject of a documentary, commissioned by his alma mater, UCC. The film, titled

*The Genius of George Boole*, was screened at Cork earlier this year. Lord David Puttnam, the man they call Ireland’s ‘Digital Champion’,says in the film, “Is George Boole important? I guess, no George Boole, no Google, no Amazon, no Intel…that makes him pretty important.” Likewise, Professor Geoffrey Hinton, Boole’s great-great grandson, says: “Anyone who knows how computers work knows about Boolean logic...that’s right down there at the basis of modern computers.” Hinton, a leading expert on Artificial Intelligence, currently divides time between Google and University of Toronto, where he is a professor in the computer science department.
Boole, according to the UCC website, was born in Lincoln as the first child of John and Mary Ann Boole. His father, it says, was a “shoemaker and his mother a lady’s maid”. It adds, “In 1831, John Boole’s precarious business foundered and George Boole, aged only 16, found himself the main provider of the family.” He would become a teacher at the age of 16, initially in Doncaster and later in Liverpool, before “moving in 1833 to Hall’s Academy at Waddington, near Lincoln”. A year later, he set up his own school in Free School Lane, Lincoln.

The genius of Boole gets greater when you realize that he was a self-taught mathematician. “From 1831, Boole began an ambitious programme of self-education in mathematics. The first advanced text he tackled was the

*Lacroix Calcul DiffĂ©rentiel*, which he read in the original French,” the site continues.
“He moved on to the French mathematicians Lagrange and Laplace, painstakingly mastering these books by repeated readings until he understood their use of differential and integrated calculus. He also read and mastered Sir Isaac Newton’s monumental

*Principia*around this time. George Boole’s initial motivation to study mathematics was to deepen his understanding of practical science, particularly mechanics, optics and astronomy. As his mastery of the subject advanced, he recognized that mathematics is a most exciting and creative subject in its own right.
In the late 1830s, his mathematical development benefited from the support of Sir Edward Ffrench Bromhead of Thurlby Hall near Lincoln. A Cambridge graduate in mathematics and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Bromhead had a fine library and introduced Boole to advanced mathematical texts, lending works to Boole and providing comments on his researches.”

He would later go on to write several papers, the first of which came in 1838 titled, “

*On Certain Theorems in the Calculus of Variations*”.
Besides the Boolean algebra, the ‘Boole crater’ on the moon is also named after the English mathematician.

Source: Livemint.com

Thanks for the great platform. May his soul rest in peace

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