The inventor of Boolean logic, the basis of modern digital computer logic, Boole is regarded as a founder of the field of computer science.
In 1849, George Boole was appointed first professor of mathematics in Ireland’s new Queen’s College (now University College) Cork and taught and worked there until his tragic and premature death in 1864. George Boole was a genius and was almost entirely self-taught. He learned, on his own Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Mechanics, Optics, Astronomy, Applied Mathematics, and Pure Mathematics. Although he never attended a secondary school or university he did have a remarkable set of references from some of the leading thinkers of the time. Boole is the inventor of Boolean logic, which is the basis of modern digital computer logic, thus Boole is regarded in hindsight as a founder of the field of computer science.
-The Life and Work of George Boole: A Prelude to the Digital Age, ISBN 978-1-78205-004-9, €19.95 £16.95 Hardback, 234 x 156 mm, 364 pages, Cork University Press
Boole is mostly remembered as a mathematician and logician whose work found application in computer science long after his death, but this biography reveals Boole as much more than a mathematical genius. He was a child prodigy, self-taught linguist and practical scientist, turbulent academic and devoted teacher, social reformer and poet, psychologist and humanitarian, religious thinker and good family man – truly a nineteenth-century polymath.
George Boole was born in Lincoln, England, the son of a struggling shoemaker. Boole was forced to leave school at the age of sixteen and never attended a university. After his father’s business failed he supported the entire family by becoming an assistant teacher, eventually opening his own boarding school in Lincoln. He began to produce original mathematical research and, in 1844, he was awarded the first gold medal for mathematics by the Royal Society.
In 1855, he had married Mary Everest, a niece of the man after whom the world’s highest mountain is named. The Booles had five remarkable daughters including Alicia, a mathematician, Lucy, a professor of chemistry, and Ethel (Voynich), a novelist and author of The Gadfly.
In November 2014 and throughout 2015 University College Cork will celebrate the bicentenary of George Boole, 1815-1864. http://georgeboole.com
Des MacHale is available for interview
Mike Collins, Cork University Press, Youngline Industrial Estate, Pouladuff Road, Cork
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