Boole biographer receives award for maths dedication

The man who has helped to reveal the life story of the Irish-based mathematician whose work underpins internet technology has been honoured for a lifetime’s dedication to maths.

Professor Des McHale received the first Maths Week Ireland award at the weekend in recognition of his communication of a love of all things mathematical over a long career that included being a professor of maths at University College Cork.

The first holder of that post, George Boole, was the man whose theories of logic are behind modern digital gadgets. Prof McHale’s biography of Boole was revised in time for the UCC-led celebration last year of the 200th anniversary of Boole’s birth.

Maths Week kicked off yesterday and is expected to see more than 250,000 young people take part in fun events around the country through to next Sunday, aimed at entertaining but also demonstrating the hidden use of maths in our everyday lives.

Eoin Gill of Waterford Institute of Technology, founder of Maths Week, said Prof McHale was a fitting recipient of the inaugural award for his long dedication to teaching and promoting the subject. The Mayo-born academic said he accepted it on behalf of colleagues at UCC, and former students now working in mathematical areas all over the world.

“Maths Week is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to engage with maths through fun games, puzzles and challenges,” he said.

The events include yesterday’s Munster Maths and Science Fair in Mallow, Co Cork, performers from the Maths Museum of Catalonia introducing students to prime numbers, Sudoku and knot theory at the Cervantes Institute today, and a maths-magic show at Dublin’s Helix Theatre on Thursday.


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