Boole’s breakthrough was the insight that logic, which had previously been considered a branch of philosophy, was actually closer to mathematics. All you needed to do was express logical problems in a symbolic format, and they could be solved in a way similar to mathematical problems.
Largely self-taught, Boole’s education began at home, where his tradesman father taught him basic mathematics. Boole began working as a schoolteacher at age 16, and spent his evenings reading such lightweight fare as Isaac Newton’s Principia.
By the time he was 24, he was already submitting mathematical papers on differential equations and linear transformations to major journals. Boole won recognition from the Royal Society in 1844 for a paper on methods for combining algebra and calculus.