George Boole: Cork to honour man who made reading this story possible   

The man whose maths powers every webpage, every smartphone and every music player is to be celebrated in Cork, the birthplace of Boolean algebra, two centuries after his own birth.

Although born in Lincoln, England in 1815, George Boole was first professor of maths at what would become University College Cork, from 1849.

It was during his time there that he wrote An Investigation of The Laws of Thought, the content of which only really took off a century later.

“Boole made the breakthrough of finding a way to show the way the human brain processes information, using symbols,” said Des MacHale, professor of maths at UCC more than 160 years later.

“The digital revolution that has taken the world by storm in recent decades is all based on this Boolean algebra and it all started in Cork, but it doesn’t seem to be very well realised here,” said Prof MacHale, whose revised biography of Boole has just been published.

The range of events and activities planned by UCC over the next year aims to change that, including hopes to renovate the now-derelict inner-city house where he penned his mathematical masterpiece first published in 1854.

The home where he lived at the time, at Grenville Place overlooking the River Lee’s north channel, is the subject of acquisition plans by Cork City Council.

UCC then aims to renovate the house and set up an incubation centre for business start-ups, and a conference facility supporting innovation and assessment.

As the world’s leading technology firms and figures depart Dublin after the Web Summit, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and UCC president Dr Michael Murphy launch the Boole 200 celebrations tonight.

Other planned events include:

* A documentary of George Boole to be aired in 2015

* From February, an interactive tour showing the campus locations and works that made him famous

* Three international conferences at UCC featuring academics and personalities from the maths and computer science fields

* a Boolean Expressions exhibition of art and mathematical data at UCC’s Lewis Glucksman Gallery.

“We are hugely proud of George Boole and he serves as the ultimate ambassador to our long tradition of independent thinking. Of course, his most enduring legacy will be that whenever you turn on a computer or use the internet, you think of George Boole,” said Dr Murphy.

Read more about George Boole and the Boole 200 plans


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