Wondering around UCC for the past few weeks I found one thing different. Was it the new students? Maybe. Was it the cold weather? Again not really. Was it the constant reminder of the George Boole* 200 celebrations? Yes. With Boole’s face flying high in the sky from street lamps and even looking at me while I drink my coffee I thought to myself, what did I really know about the founder of Boolean logic, the former professor of math’s, and the name of our lecture halls? The answer as it seemed was nothing. Que a frantic Google search and a double espresso mocha.
Born in England in 1815 George Boole was named as the first lecturer of mathematics at UCC (the Queens College, Cork) in 1849 despite not having any formal college education himself. Two years earlier in Boole published a pamphlet, the Mathematical Analysis of Logic, which expressed his most famous idea, Boolean Logic. Boolean Logic allows for variable values to be assigned a true or false value.
This logic allowed the processing of logic in all modern computers. Boole as a result found the grounding to the digital age. This is pretty groundbreaking yet very little people know of him. Boole is the reason we have modern digital computers. It seems strange that for a generation who are revolutionizing the world through the internet and computers very little of us know of the forefather of digital computers.
Lecturing in UCC till 1864, Boole died the same year after rushing two miles in the rain to teach a lecture. He soon died and was buried in St.Michaels cemetery in Blackrock, Cork. This year UCC celebrates the bicentennial of George Boole. Celebrations will be held around campus with re-inactments happening around campus. More information on Boole’s life and work can be seen on the George Boole page by UCC.