2015 Press Releases

Boole exhibition to highlight genius’ impact today

15 Jul 2015
As forefather of the information age, Boole’s legacy surrounds us everywhere. Image: Stephen Bean (Shot at NASA while filming with Michel Schellekens at the Kennedy Space Centre.)

A first-hand account of George Boole and Charles Babbage's meeting, during which they discuss ‘A Thinking Machine’, will be on public display for the first time.

The Life and Legacy of George Boole 1815 -2015 exhibition will be launched by Boole’s biographer, Professor Des MacHale with special guests including the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Chris O'Leary, this Thursday, July 16, at 13:00.

This will also be the first time George Boole’s own copy of An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854) will be available for public viewing. 

“George Boole’s life reveals that there is an innate simplicity and humanity in genius, and that investigations in pure mathematics are worthwhile, both for their intrinsic value and beauty and the possibility that they will lead to something useful and beneficial to society,” commented Prof Des MacHale.

UCC’s exhibition runs simultaneously with another in Boole’s hometown Lincoln in the UK, for which the University Library and Lincoln Cathedral have partnered with UCC. Other project partners include Lincolnshire County Council, the London Mathematical Society, MIT, the Royal Society London and the Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley.

“As Ard Mhéara I am delighted to be associated with and supportive of the activities to commemorate George Boole 200,” commented the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Chris O'Leary.

The exhibition, central to UCC’s celebration of the bicentenary of George Boole’s birth with a series of exciting events planned for later this year (GeorgeBoole.com), will include original copies of Boole’s correspondence describing his time in Cork including Digital Turning the Pages editions of the Laws of Thought, and Boole’s annotated Mathematical Examination ledger.

Boole was deeply interested in the idea of expressing the workings of the human mind in symbolic form, and his two books on this subject, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847) and An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854) today form the basis of computer science and electronic circuitry.

“Boole was a genius, whose ideas have utterly transformed the world in which we live. His appointment as the first Professor of Mathematics at Queens College Cork (now known as UCC) in 1849 provided him with the opportunity to develop his most important work, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought,” Prof MacHale said.

As forefather of the information age, Boole’s legacy surrounds us everywhere; in mobile devices, computers, information storage and retrieval systems, electronic circuits and controls that support life, learning and communications in the 21st century. Boole also made important contributions to areas of mathematics. Much of the ‘new mathematics’ now studied by children in school – set theory, binary numbers and Boolean algebra, has its origins in Boole’s work. 

The exhibition is open to the public until the end of 2015, with free entry. Guided tours are available by appointment, contact: angela.long@ucc.ie. 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF