Many of our computer databases utilize boolean logic as the basis of querying the database. Boolean logic has a much older history than most computer users imagine. It is helpful to understand the background and theory behind this concept, because this theory is the foundation on which contemporary computer science and information technology
has been built.
George Boole was an English mathematician. Born in 1815, he had no formal higher education, but had a natural gift for mathematics. He studied Newton and other mathematicians from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He began submitting papers to mathematical journals and by 1844 was awarded a medal for discussing ways in which algebra and calculus could be combined and applied to several other disciplines. In 1847, Boole wrote a paper entitled "Mathematical Analysis of Logic" (Smith, 1993). His premise in this paper was the relationship of logic and mathematics; he thought logic was more properly associated with mathematics rather than philosophy.
Boole received a professorship in mathematics at Queens College in Ireland, based on his writings. In his most famous work, "An Investigation into Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities," (Smith, 1993), published in 1854, Boole wanted to separate logic from philosophy and combine it with algebra as a science unto itself (Smith, 1993).
Boole was able to analyze the mechanics of human reasoning and the result of this analysis became the principle of information retrieval, from manual and mechanical, to electronic. Boole believed that reasoning involved either the addition of different concepts to form more complex concepts or the separation of complex co...
... middle of paper ...
...to maximize my search results. I realize my uncertainty was due to my lack of training in the Boolean logic process. This has been a valuable learning experience for me.
Adler, I. (1961). Thinking Machines A Layman’s Introduction to Logic, Boolean Algebra and Computers. New York: The New American Library.
Korfhage, R. (1997). Information Storage and Retrieval. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Shannon, C. (1938). A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. American Institute of Electrical Engineers Transactions 57, 713-723.
Smith, E. (1993, June). On the shoulders of giants: from Boole to Shannon to Taube The origins and development of computerized information from the mid-19th century to the present. Information Technology and Libraries, 12, 217-226.
Tenopir, C. (1997, May). Common end user errors. Library Journal, 122, 31-32.
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