In details

John Venn


John Venn He was born on 4 August 1834 in Hull, England, and died on 4 April 1923 in Cambridge, England. He came from an Evangelical background church and when he entered Gonville and the Caius Cambridge College in 1853 he had a slight contact with books of any kind and it can be said that there had begun his knowledge of literature. He graduated in 1857, and two years later was ordained a priest. In 1862 he returned to Cambridge University as a lecturer in moral science, studying and teaching logic and probability theory. He developed Boole's mathematical logic and is best known for his diagram of representing sets and their joints and intersections.

Venn considered three disks R, S, and T to be typical subsets of a U set. The intersections of these disks and their complements divide U into 8 un juxtaposed regions, of which the union gives 256 different Boolean combinations from the original set R, S, T.

Venn wrote Chance's Logic in 1866, which Keynes described as: "remarkably original and considerably influenced the development of statistical theory."

He published Symbolic Logic in 1881 and The Principles of Empirical Logic in 1889. The second of these is less original, but the first was described by Keynes as probably his most enduring work in logic. In 1883 Venn was elected a member of the Royal Society. From then on, his career changed direction. He had already left the Church in 1870 but his interest has now turned history. He wrote a story from his college, publishing The Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College 1349-1897 in 1897. He undertook the immense task of compiling a history of Cambridge University. The first volume was published in 1922. He was assisted by his son in this task which was described by another historian in these terms:

"It is difficult for anyone who has not seen the work in its manufacture to realize the immense amount of research involved in this great venture."

Venn also had other skills and interests, including a rare ability to build machines. He used his ability to build a cricket ball machine that was so good that when the Australian cricket team visited Cambridge in 1909, Venn's machine was used by one of its top stars four times.