YESTERDAY, WE SAW Englishman George Boole progress gradually from a “petty shopkeeper’s son” to an aspiring mathematician. His The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, 1847, become a core of pure mathematics, of mathematical philosophy, not just mathematical application to worldly matters. Today, Part 2’s tidbits continue from E.T. Bell’s fine Men of Mathematics.
Cross-channel Rivalries. Evolution of mathematical thought accompanied national rivalries among European academics. Boole, having previously taught himself some Latin and Greek and having also learned French, German, and Italian, was prepared for this.
Bell’s description of rivalries is particularly entertaining: “The fact is that British mathematicians have often serenely gone their own way, doing the things that interested them personally as if they were playing cricket for their own amusement only, with a self-satisfied disregard for what others, shouting at the top of their scientific lungs, have assured the world is of supreme importance.”
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