JOHN VENN –The Discoveror of Common between Uncommon

Venn diagrams are so much fun for everyone of us and we totally enjoyed working out them. Venn diagram is a diagram used to show characteristics that are the same in books or characters. It can use two or more circles.  The spaces which don’t overlap have unique details  about one book or character and the space where the circles overlap contains information that is the same for each circle. John Venn was the “mathe-magician” who made it.

John Venn was a British mathematician born on 4th August 1834 in Hull, Yorkshire. His parents were Martha Sykes and Henry Venn. His mother Martha died when Venn was 3 years old. He did his schooling in Highgate and Islington. Later he continued his education in Gonville and Caius College of Cambridge. He got a degree in mathematics in 1857 and became Fellow of the College.

His father was very strict. Henry Venn was an active member in the Evangelical movement and also worked as Secretary of “Society for Missions to Africa and the east”. So he was very religious and forced John Venn to follow the family tradition. Venn became a priest in 1859 but his thirst for knowledge and passion for mathematics encouraged him to do more than this. He started working as a lecturer in moral sciences in Cambridge.

He was so attached to machines that he constructed a rare machine which is used to bowl cricket balls. It turned out to be so accurate that it was used by Australians and the machine could actually bowl out one of the top ranked player of the team for four times in a row.

Venn was very good in Mathematics and he published three text books named “The Logic of chance” in 1866, “Symbolic Logic” in 1881 and “the principles of Empirical Logic” in 1889. This book had great influence in statistics. The Venn diagrams were actually derived from the book “Symbolic Logic”. They were used to represent relation between sets using circles within circles.

He got married to Susanna Carnegie Edmonstone in 1867 and the couple had a son named John Archibald Venn who was also a mathematician and contributed a lot to logic. John Venn was elected as member of the Royal Society in 1883. John Venn died on 4th April, 1923 in Cambridge, England. There is a building named after him at the University of Hull with a marked glass window in a hall in the ‘Gonville and Caius College’ remembering him and his work.

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