George Boole

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Boole, George

Boole, George, 1815–64, English mathematician and logician. He became professor at Queen's College, Cork, in 1849. Boole wrote An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854) and works on calculus and differential equations. He developed a form of symbolic logic, called Boolean algebra, that is of fundamental importance in the study of the foundations of pure mathematics and is also at the basis of computer technology.
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Boole, George


Born Nov. 2, 1815, in Lincoln; died Dec. 8, 1864, in Ballintemple, near Cork. English mathematician and logician.

Although he had no special mathematical education, Boole became a professor of mathematics in 1849 at Queens College in Cork, Ireland, where he taught until his death. He was almost equally interested in logic, mathematical analysis, probability theory, the ethics of B. Spinoza, and the philosophical works of Aristotle and Cicero. In his works Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847), Logical Calculus (1848), and An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), Boole laid the foundation of mathematical logic. Boolean algebra—special algebraic systems with two operations defined for their elements—is named for Boole.


Liard, L. Angliiskie reformatory logiki v XIX v. St. Petersburg, 1897. (Translated from French.)
Venn, J. “Boole’s Logical System.” Mind, 1876, vol. 1, no. 4.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

George Boole


George Boole

1815-11-02 - 2007-10-24 12:44 best known for his contribution to symbolic logic (Boolean Algebra) 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.

He died in Ballintemple, Ireland, on 1864-12-08.

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