augustus de morgan biography and contribution to math world

Augustus De Morgan was known as a British mathematician and logician. He is known for creating De Morgan’s Laws and showing us the term mathematical induction. He also has a crater on the moon named after him. Augustus De Morgan was born on June 27, 1806 in Madras, India. His father was named Colonel John De Morgan, and he was employed by the East India Company’s service. Just a few months after Augustus was born, he became blind in one eye. At seven months old, his father moved the family to England because he had to serve.

His father died on his way home back in 1816 when Augustus was just ten years old. De Morgan attended many private schools. Before he turned fourteen, he was fluent in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. When he was sixteen, he enrolled at Trinity College. His major was mathematics. Three years later, he got a scholarship from the school. He really enjoyed reading which sometimes interfered with his study of mathematics. He didn’t want to sign the theological tests that were mandatory for masters of arts degree which prevented him from getting his M. A. In 1828, he became a professor at The University of London in the subject of math. He was only twenty two when he gave his first lecture. A bit of trouble happened at the college so he resigned his position as a professor. But when his boss accidently drowned, he was asked to teach again. His memory was extraordinary and he was known for it. He worked with Lord Broughman. Together about the same time, they both started The Society for The Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. De Morgan was one of the reoccurring writers.

The Society published The Differential and Integral Calculus which is what De Morgan wrote. He also wrote like one-sixth of articles found in the Penny Cyclopedia. While at the university, he befriended William Frend, who was also a mathematician. He got married in 1837 to Sophia Elizabeth. Sophia was one of William’s daughters. Together, they had seven children; four daughters and three sons. He became a professor for the London University which was founded about ten years later. De Morgan would give out what we now call homework. He always said that it’s better to fully understand it then not.

So that was the purpose of his homework which he would return before the next class. He always stressed how much logical training was important. While at the college, he formulated what is now considered “De Morgan’s Laws” which simply states: Not P and Not Q = Not P or Not Q and Not P or Not Q = Not P and Not Q Although Aristotle came up with something similar, De Morgan was given credit because he stated it formally. He came up with Negation of disjunction and Negation of conjunction. He created the truth tables and came up with ways to solve validity.

The headquarters in London at the Mathematical Society is now called the De Morgan House and well as the math department at the college is called the Augustus De Morgan Society. At the age of sixty, De Morgan resigned from his teaching position. Tragedy soon struck afterwards. His son George, whom he had nicknames with, who also loved mathematics, died just two years later! Right after his son’s death, his daughter also passed away leaving him with a broken heart. At the age of sixty-five, just five years after he retired, on March 18, 1871, Augustus De Morgan died of nervous prostration.

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