Boole
was a
British
mathematician and
philosopher. As the inventor of
Boolean algebra, which is
the basis of all modern
computer arithmetic, Boole is regarded as
one of the founders of the field of
computer science.The
original Working Class Boy Made Good, Boole was born in the wrong time,
in the wrong place, and definitely in the wrong class  he didn't have a
hope of growing up to be a mathematical genius, but he did it anyway.
A family friend stepped in to teach him basic Latin, and was exhausted
within a few years; Boole was translating Latin poetry by the age of
twelve. By the time he hit puberty, the adolescent George was fluent in
German, Italian and French. At 16 he became an assistant teacher, at 20
he opened his own school. Over the next few years, depending mainly on
mathematical journals borrowed from the local Mechanic's Institute,
Boole struggled with Isaac Newton's 'Principia' and the works of 18th
and 19th century French mathematicians PierreSimon Laplace and
JosephLouis Lagrange. He had soon mastered the most intricate
mathematical principles of his day.
At the age of 24, George Boole published his first paper ('Researches on
the Theory of Analytical Transformations') in the Cambridge Mathematical
Journal. Over the next ten years, his star rose as a steady stream of
original articles began to push the limits of mathematics. By 1844 he
was concentrating on the uses of combined algebra and calculus to
process infinitely small and large figures, and, in that same year,
received a Royal Society medal for his contributions to analysis. Boole
soon began to see the possibilities for applying his algebra to the
solution of logical problems.
Boole's 1847 work, 'The Mathematical Analysis of Logic', not only
expanded on Gottfried Leibniz’
earlier speculations on the correlation between logic and math,
but argued that logic was principally a discipline of mathematics,
rather than philosophy. It was this paper that won him, not only the
admiration of the distinguished logician Augustus de Morgan (a mentor of
Ada Byron’s), but aplace
on the faculty of Ireland's Queen's College.

Without a school to run, Boole began to delve deeper into his own work,
concentrating on refining his 'Mathematical Analysis', and determined to
find a way to encode logical arguments into an indicative language that
could be manipulated and solved mathematically. He developed a type of
linguistic algebra, the three most basic operations of which were (and
still are) AND, OR and NOT. It was these three functions that formed the
basis of his premise,
and were the only operations necessary to perform
comparisons or basic mathematical
functions.His
system (detailed in his 'An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on
Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities',
1854) was based on a binary approach, processing only two objects  the
yesno, truefalse, onoff, zeroone approach. Surprisingly, given his
standing in the academic community, Boole's idea was either criticized
or completely ignored by the majority of his peers. Luckily, American
logician Charles Sanders Peirce was more openminded.
Twelve years after Boole's 'Investigation' was published, Pierce gave a
brief speech describing Boole's idea to the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences  and then spent more than 20 years modifying and expanding it,
realizing the potential for use in electronic circuitry and eventually
designing a fundamental electrical logic circuit.
Pierce never actually built his theoretical logic circuit, being himself
more of a logician than an electrician, but he did introduce Boolean
algebra into his university logic philosophy courses. Boole published a
number of papers following his 'Investigation', the two most influential
probably being a 'Treatise on Differential Equations' (1859) and
'Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences' (1860). Unfortunately,
Boole's life was cut short when he died of a 'feverish cold' at the age
of 49, after walking 2 miles through the rain to get to class and then
lecturing in wet clothes (proving, once again, that genius and common
sense sometimes have a less than nodding acquaintance). With George
Boole's 'Mathematical Analysis' and 'Investigation', Boolean algebra,
sometimes known as Boolean logic, came into being.
