George Boole: The man who shrunk the world into ‘0’s and ‘1’s

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 02, 2015 13:57 IST
George Boole (Wikicommons)

Google on Monday dedicated a doodle to the noted mathematician George Boole on his 200th birth anniversary.

If Google is the tallest building in the age of information, Boole can be considered as the man who laid its foundation. He was an English mathematician, logician and philosopher whose legacy of Boolean logic paved the way for designing the electronic structure of computers, and for manipulating information within them.

Boolean algebra was introduced by Boole in his first book The Mathematical Analysis of Logic published in 1847 and was explored in full in his second book An Investigation of the Laws of Thought that came out in 1854.

Today’s Google Doodle (Google)

A modern-day “digital” computer understands only two states - ‘on’ and ‘off’ state or ‘true’ and ‘false’ - in other words, it understands only two inputs those of ‘1’ and ‘0’. Boolean algebra helped in converting any text into ‘1’s and ‘0’s, thereby devising a mechanism for communicating with computers. A single ‘b’inary dig’it’ is called a bit - eight bits make one byte.

For example, a computer doesn’t understand the text “Hello world” as it is, instead the text is converted into a series of binary digits (a lot of 1s and 0s) which help it understand the text that we type.

Click here to see how any letter or number can be converted to ‘1’s and ‘0’s.

Click here and type any text to see how it is converted to binary digits.

So now do you understand why computer memory is calculated in terms of bytes? Starting from your phone to your personal computer, all your devices only understand the Boolean logic.

Boole died of pneumonia in 1864, when he was 49 years old, after he walked two miles through cold rain and then delivered a lecture wearing wet clothes, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Google doodle today is visible on a majority of Google’s homepages across the world.

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