In 2015, University College Cork celebrated the bicentenary of George Boole, 1815-64. Born in Lincoln, Boole was a mathematical genius who was largely self-taught. His appointment as the first Professor of Mathematics at this college in 1849 provided the opportunity to develop his most important work, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.
Boole is a pivotal figure who can be described as the ‘father of the information age’. His invention of Boolean algebra and symbolic logic pioneered a new mathematics. His legacy surrounds us everywhere, in the computers, information storage and retrieval, electronic circuits and controls that support life, learning and communications in the 21st century.
16 Dec 2020
Professor Desmond MacHale has just published a unique and exciting collection of George Boole's poems entitled: 'The Poetry of George Boole'.
The purpose of this little book is twofold. First, and most importantly, it is to collect and preserve the seventy or so surviving poems written by the mathematician and logician George Boole (1815-1864) and to comment upon what light his poetry throws on his character and personality.
Second, it is to discuss a much-neglected topic, the interaction between Science and the Arts, with particular reference to mathematics and poetry.
Poetry clearly meant a great deal to George Boole, both to read and compose. From his early teens until about 1855, he used poetry as a form of recreational activity, possibly as a form of relaxation from his more serious work in logic and mathematics. He was a competent, if not exceptional, translator and versifier, who now and then wrote lines of real poetic merit. And in the debate about reciprocal contributions by artists to the sciences, it would be difficult to find even a single established poet who made even a minor contribution to mathematics.
04 Jun 2019
Strong mathematical skills are critical factors in the future development of the economy, and teachers are in the front-line of fostering such skills among the young. On Sunday 26 May, a unique and special ceremony took place in University College Cork's Aula Maxima (home of the beautifully ornate stained-glass Boole Window), where accolades, tributes and awards were given to pioneering secondary school teachers and students of mathematics in Ireland.
Photo: Portion of Boole Memorial Window in the Aula Max, University College Cork
20 May 2019
The Voynich Manuscript is one of the world’s most mysterious books written in code. The manuscript gets its name from Wilfred Michail Voynich (1865-1930), George Boole’s son-in-law.
Several attempts by world class codebreakers (including Alan Turing) have failed to definitively unravel its meanings. Written in an unknown code, this early fifteenth-century Italian volume, has been described as:
‘the longest, the best known, the most tantalising, the most heavily attacked, the most resistant and the most expensive of all cryptograms.’
11 Apr 2019
It has recently been announced that Prof Geoffrey Hinton (great-great grandson of George Boole) has won the Turing Award 2018 along with Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun - two other proponents of deep learning, a popular form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This achievement is great news for the field of artificial intelligence and, in particular, machine learning. The Turing Award is widely regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize in Computer Science’.
Such AI is increasingly used in products that people use every day - from smart speakers to Facebook. Deep learning is also seen as a promising, though not flawless, tool for the development of self-driving cars and other futuristic technologies.
14 Mar 2019
Through the George Boole Papers held in UCC Library , we get a great insight into life of an academic living in Cork in the nineteenth century. Boole was obviously a considerate family man and wrote frequently to his family in Lincoln as the collection of his personal papers show. On 17th March 1851, the feast day of St. Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), he writes to his sister Mary Ann and sympathises with her on her recent ill health. As is the Irish condition, he speaks about the weather and how it might interfere with his plans for the day.