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George Boole
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Mathematician
    (November 2, 1815-December 8, 1864)
    Born in Lincoln, England, United Kingdom
    Mathematician and philosopher
    Wrote 'An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities' (1854), 'Treatise on Differential Equations' (1859) and 'Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences' (1860)
    Developed Boolean algebra
    Boolean algebra is an algebra of truth values, 0 and 1
    Operations in Boolean algebra are 'and' 'or' and 'not'
    Example: If x is the set of all brown cows and y is the set of all fat cows, then:
    x+y is the set of all cows that are either brown or fat
    xy is the set of all cows that are both brown and fat
    x-y is the set of all brown cows that are not fat
    y-x is the set of all fat cows that are not brown
    His work in mathematical logic was partly inspired by a mystical experience he had at 17 when he felt God called on him to explain how the mind processes thoughts.
    He died from pneumonia after getting caught in the rain, walking two miles and delivering a lecture in his soaking wet clothes. (His recovery was probably not helped by his wife who, believing that a remedy should resemble the cause, placed him in bed, then threw buckets of water over him.)
    His work languished in obscurity for decades after his death because it seemed to have no practical use.
    After learning Latin from a tutor, he taught himself Greek, French and German.
    He became an assistant teacher at age 16, after his father's business collapsed and he had to financially support his parents and younger siblings.
    His grandson Sebastian Hinton invented the jungle gym.
    In the 1930s, Claude Shannon realized that Boolean algebra could be used to optimize the use of circuits in telephone routing switches.
    Since Boolean algebra underlies digital computers, he is considered in retrospect a founder of the field of computer science.

Credit: C. Fishel


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