Boolean algebra, also called Boolean logic, is at the heart of the electronic circuitry in everything we use—from our computers and cars, to home appliances. How did a system of mathematics established in the Victorian era become the basis for such incredible technological achievements a century later? In The Logician and the Engineer, Paul Nahin combines engaging problems and a colorful historical narrative to tell the remarkable story of how two men in different eras—mathematician and philosopher George Boole and electrical engineer and pioneering information theorist Claude Shannon—advanced Boolean logic and became founding fathers of the electronic communications age. Nahin takes readers from fundamental concepts to a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of modern digital machines, in order to explore computing and its possible limitations in the twenty-first century and beyond.
Paul J. Nahin is the author of many bestselling popular math books, including Mrs. Perkins's Electric Quilt, In Praise of Simple Physics, and An Imaginary Tale (all Princeton). He is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire.
"Meshing logic problems with the stories of two extraordinary men . . . Paul Nahin fashions a tale of innovation and discovery. Alongside a gripping account of how Shannon built on Boole's work, Nahin explores others key to the technological revolution, from Georg Cantor to Alan Turing."--Nature
"Engaging. . . . Nahin assumes some rudimentary knowledge but expertly explains concepts such as relay circuits, Turing machines, and quantum computing. Reasoning through the problems and diagrams will give persistent readers genuine aha moments and an understanding of the two revolutionaries who helped to lay the foundation of our digital world."--Scientific American
"Part biography, part history, and part a review of basic information theory, this book does an excellent job of fitting these interlocking elements together."--Library Journal
"The reader is taken on a journey from the development of some abstract mathematical ideas through a nearly ubiquitous application of those ideas within the modern world with so many embedded digital computers. . . . I enjoyed the discussion of Claude Shannon. In the history of the computer and development of the internet and World Wide Web, his ideas and contributions are too often overlooked. He is one of my heroes and I believe that everyone that reads this book will come to the same conclusion."--Charles Ashbacher, MAA Reviews
"Paul J. Nahin really knows how to tell a good story. . . . The Logician and the Engineer is truly a gem."--New York Journal of Books
"A short but fairly detailed exploration of the genesis of Boolean logic and Shannon's information theory. . . . [G]ood background reading for anyone studying electronics or computer science."--Christine Evans-Pughe, Engineering & Technology
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Paul J. Nahin: