Maths Pioneer Remembered – University College Cork

George Boole was a remarkable man, who was born 200 years ago and became the first professor of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Cork.  He is being honoured over the year with a series of events and readings designed to mark the anniversary of his birth.


George Boole was definitely born in the wrong time, in the wrong location and without all the benefits of class that many of his contemporaries enjoyed.  There was little chance of him climbing the ladder of mathematics, but he managed it anyway.  He was born in Lincoln at that time at the heart of the industrial revolution.  His first piece of real luck was to have a father who had a love of maths which he passed on to his children.

His father was soon outstripped in his maths skills though and by 8 years old, was in need of more advanced help.  A family friend helped take over some tutoring and took him through basic latin, but by 12 years old the friend was also overtaken.  By 14 years old, George was fluent in German. Italian and French, by 16 years old he became an assistant teacher.  Four years later, still aged  only 20 he had opened his own school.

At this time he started to take mathematics very seriously, studying all the most revered texts of the day.  From Isaac Newton to Laplace and Joseph Lagrange, he studied and mastered all the techniques and the latest techniques.  It was then he started to push the boundaries, and by 24 he published his first paper – Research on the Theory of Analytical Transformations.  Some of these papers were covered in the Maths festival  programmes that were covered on the ITV recently, it may be able to catch up with them on ITV player though – here’s how.

By 1844 he was concentrating on the uses of joined algebra and calculus to process big figures and infinitely little, and, in the exact same year, received a Royal Society medal for his contributions to evaluation.

Boole shortly started to see the chances for using his algebra. Boole’s 1847 work, ‘The Mathematical Analysis of Logic’ enlarged on Gottfried Leibniz’ earlier conjectures on the correlation between math and logic, but claimed that logic was primarily a subject of mathematics, rather than philosophy.

It was this newspaper that gained him, not only the admiration of the eminent logician Augustus de Morgan (a mentor of Ada Byron’s), and also a position on the faculty of Ireland’s Queen’s College.


James Hemmings


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