Dara Ó Briain visits UCC to pay respect to ‘father of digital age’

Major plans to celebrate 200th anniversary of birth of maths pioneer George Boole

Comedian and science aficionado Dara Ó Briain paid his respects to mathematician George Boole at the weekend when he visited University College Cork to see papers belonging to the 19th century pioneer.

Boole, who was born 200 years ago this year in Lincoln in the UK, was professor of mathematics at UCC when he wrote The Laws of Thought about logic and probabilities which has played a major role in the development of computers.

Largely self-taught, Boole in 1849 was appointed the first Professor of Mathematics at UCC – then Queen’s College Cork – and such was his influence on mathematics, logic and probability that he has been called the father of the digital age.

UCC President Dr Michael Murphy invited O'Briain, who studied maths and theoretical physics at university, to inspect Boole's papers at UCC while he was in Cork at the weekend for two performances of his new show Crowd Tickler at the Cork Opera House.


After signing the UCC visitors book, Ó Briain was shown Boole's own copy of The Laws of Thought and he later viewed the Boole papers which are held in the UCC Library which is named after the mathematician.

"A small, nerd bonus to being in Cork: they're celebrating the 200th anniversary of one of our greatest ever Scientists, George Boole...," tweeted Ó Briain who has popularised maths with his TV shows, Dara Ó Briain's Science Club and Dara Ó Briain: School of Hard Sums.

Boole, who died in 1864 and is buried in St Michael's cemetery in Blackrock, will be the subject of a series of commemorative events in Cork including the restoration by Cork City Council of the house where he lived at Grenville Place near the Mercy University Hospital.

UCC has already sanctioned €600,000 for the joint project with the city council to save the protected structure at Grenville Place which will then be handed back to UCC for development as a landmark building in the city.

And a series of commemorative events kicked off last week when the co-founder of the world's two largest electronic design automation companies and the former Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland were guest speakers at the George Boole 200 Inaugural Lectures in UCC

Prof Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, University of California, Berkeley, co-founder of Synopsys and Cadence and Prof Muffy Calder OBE, University of Glasgow, and former Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland discussed how Boolean thought has influenced our modern world.

For more information of the George Boole commemorative events, visit GeorgeBoole.com or follow @GeorgeBoole200 on Twitter.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times