1847

The book of science

Tom Sharp

 George Boole computer science

Boolean algebra

• George Boole developed equations
• for Aristotle’s logic,
• the first algebraic logic.
• His successors dropped
• Boole’s uninterpretable terms
• and adopted inclusive or as the more basic
• to create modern Boolean algebras
• (Boole having favored the exclusive or).
• Given only two values,
• true and false,
• and three operations,
• and, or, and not,
• one is able to derive
• a complete system
• that we have animated
• with digital computers
• to become its own
• universe.

Tautology

• The meanings of true and false
• and and, or, and not are arbitrary.
• The only important thing
• is that we can use them to make statements
• that are either true or false.
• A Boolean algebra can be defined
• as the set of statements that hold
• over the values true and false
• 1 and 0, or us and them.
• A statement having a truth value
• simply means that it has one
• of only two possible values,
• specifically, the value we hold as true
• or the value we hold as false.

Duality

• True and false
• are dual to each other,
• as are and and or,
• which means they are interchangable.
• If the universe were composed
• of only right and wrong,
• then wrong would be
• as necessary as right.

Precision

• When I try to be as precise
• in everyday life
• as I had to be
• when programming computers,
• other people get annoyed.

Arguments against torture, arguments against war

• There never has been a war
• in which innocent people have not suffered.
• There never has been a confession under torture
• that a jury of peers would not doubt.
• When a policeman kills an innocent woman,
• law enforcement suffers.
• When a U.S. drone kills innocent people in Pakistan,
• national interests everywhere suffer.
• An act of torture debases
• both the victim and the torturer.
• The real reason for torture
• is not gaining information,
• but asserting the dominance
• of one group over another.
• If power itself is not evil,
• then its arrogance is.
• The benefits that war and torture claim
• are far smaller than their hidden costs.
• This is true of our own arrogance,
• and the arrogance of our enemies.

George Boole did not regard logic as a branch of mathematics, but as the laws of rational thought. His wife brought on his death by pouring buckets of water over him after he took to bed from a fever induced by walking through the rain to give a lecture wearing his wet clothes.