Boolean algebra (bōˈlēən) [key], an abstract mathematical system primarily used in computer science and in expressing the relationships between sets (groups of objects or concepts). The notational system was developed by the English mathematician George Boole c.1850 to permit an algebraic manipulation of logical statements. Such manipulation can demonstrate whether or not a statement is true and show how a complicated statement can be rephrased in a simpler, more convenient form without changing its meaning. In his 1881 treatise, Symbolic Logic, the English logician and mathematician John Venn interpreted Boole's work and introduced a new method of diagramming Boole's notation; this was later refined by the English mathematician Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll—this method is now know as the Venn diagram. When used in set theory, Boolean notation can demonstrate the relationship between groups, indicating what is in each set alone, what is jointly contained in both, and what is contained in neither. Boolean algebra is of significance in the study of information theory, the theory of probability, and the geometry of sets. The expression of electrical networks in Boolean notation has aided the development of switching theory and the design of computers.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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