George Boole: The Genius
George Boole was a British mathematician, and he is known as the inventor of Boolean Algebra. His theories combined the concepts of logic and mathematics, and hence he is known as the father of mathematical logic. This combination of mathematics and logic came to be known as Boolean algebra, and is the basis of digital electronic design, which is used in fields ranging from telephone switching to computer engineering. Because of the utilization of the concepts of Boolean algebra in electronics and computers, George Boole is regarded by many as the father of computing also.
George was born on 2nd November, 1815 in Lincoln, England. His father, John Boole was a shoemaker, and his mother a housewife. John Boole proved to be a great influence in George’s life due to his keen interest in science and mathematics. He shared his passion with his son, and started teaching George at an early age. By the time he was seven, George was deeply in love with mathematics, and used to be lost in the world of mathematics. He acquired a reputation as a child genius, and one day, he was found spelling difficult words for people’s amusement after going missing from school.
George was from a poor family, and his parents could not afford to pay fees for grammar school, so the child genius ended up going to a small school called Mr. Bainbridge’s Academy. He made fast progress in studies, and was soon assisting teachers in teaching and grading. His exploits weren’t limited to just math and science either; he loved to read and learn, and was very well read in a lot of subjects. His father John also introduced him to literature and Latin, but George soon learned all his father had to offer. After that, John found George a tutor – bookseller William Brooke. Mr. Brooke turned out to be a great asset for George; he gave George access to all the books in his store, and also taught him. Mr. Brooke and George ended up being lifelong friends. However, just knowing Latin was not enough for George. He added Greek to his repertoire, and this was completely self-taught. He also went on to study French, German, and Italian. In May 1930, the local paper published George’s translation of Greek poet Meleager’s work, and this got George his reputation as a boy genius.
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.... His wife Mary’s approach to trying to cure him was also one of the primary reasons of his death. She believed in the theory that the cause would also be the cure, so instead of keeping him warm, she regularly drenched him with water in bed, leading to severe complications. Ironically, Mary said she did it because it seemed ‘logical’ to her!
George’s works considered purely mathematical until the year 1937. In 1937, Claude Shannon, a graduate student at MIT, discovered the connection between electronic circuits and Boolean algebra. This connection is essential to the operation of computers and modern electronics circuits. Computers and circuits utilize Boolean algebra for all their decision making calculations, and without it they would be quite useless.
George Boole was well ahead of his time with his mathematical theories and the combination of mathematics and logic. His theories are in use today, a century after his time, and will be in use as the basis of one of the most important machines man has ever built. He was a true genius, and his work has gotten him the deserved title of the father of mathematical logic.