Boolean Algebra

Pronunciation: /ˈbu li ən ˈæl dʒə brə/ Explain

Boolean algebra is an algebra where there are only two values, typically represented by 1 or 0.[1][2] If the elements are truth values, 1 represents 'true', and 0 represents 'false'.

In boolean algebra, there are four commonly used operators: (and), (or), (exclusive or), and ¬ (negation, not, or complement). Table 1 summarizes the boolean operators.

OperatorNameTruth TableVenn DiagramDescription
and
ABA ∧ B
000
010
100
111
Venn diagram showing AND, conjunction returns true (1) if both operands are true (1), otherwise it returns false (0). In most computer languages, and is represented by '&' or '&&'. The operator '^' represents exponentiation in most computer languages.
or
ABA ∨ B
000
011
101
111
Venn diagram showing or returns true (1) if one or both operands are true (1), otherwise it returns false (0). In most computer languages, or is represented by '|' or '||'.
¬not
A¬A
01
10
Venn diagram showing negation ¬ returns true (1) if the operand is false (0), and false (0) if the operand is true (1). In most computer languages negate or not is represented by the exclamation mark '!'.
exclusive or
ABA ⊖ B
000
011
101
110
Venn diagram showing exclusive or returns true (1) if one but not both operands are true (1), otherwise it returns false (0). In most computer languages, exclusive or is implemented as a function call.
Table 1: Truth table for boolean operators.

Properties of Operations

Commutative

The three binary operators are commutative:
A∧B = B∧A
A∨B = B∨A
A⊖B = B⊖A.

Associative

The three binary operators are associative:
a ∧ (b ∧ c) = (a ∧ b) ∧ c
a ∨ (b ∨ c) = (a ∨ b) ∨ c
a ⊖ (b ⊖ c) = (a ⊖ b) ⊖ c
.

Distributive

The 'and' and 'or' operators are mutually distributive:
a ∧ (b ∨ c) = (a ∧ b) ∨ (a ∧ c)
a ∨ (b ∧ c) = (a ∨ b) ∧ (a ∨ c)
.

References

  1. boolean. merriam-webster.com. Encyclopedia Britannica. Merriam-Webster. Last Accessed 8/6/2018. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boolean.
  2. Boole, George. The Mathematical Analysis of Logic. www.archive.org. Macmillan, Barclay and Macmillan. 1847. Last Accessed 8/6/2018. http://www.archive.org/stream/mathematicalanal00booluoft#page/n6/mode/1up. Buy the book
  3. Couturat, Louis. The Algebra of Logic. Translated by Lydia Gillingham Robinson, B. www.archive.org. A.. Open Court Publishing. 1914. Last Accessed 8/6/2018. http://www.archive.org/stream/algebralogicbylc00coutrich#page/n5/mode/1up. Buy the book

More Information

  • boolean. Dictionary.com. Random House, Inc. 6/22/2018. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/boolean.
  • Boolean Algebra. www.tutorialspoint.com. Tutorials Point. 6/21/2018. https://www.tutorialspoint.com/computer_logical_organization/boolean_algebra.htm.

Cite this article as:

McAdams, David E. Boolean Algebra. 6/19/2018. All Math Words Encyclopedia. Life is a Story Problem LLC. http://www.allmathwords.org/en/b/booleanalgebra.html.

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Revision History

6/22/2018: Removed broken links, updated license, implemented new markup. (McAdams, David E.)
6/30/2008: Added Venn diagrams. (McAdams, David E.)
4/22/2008: Initial version. (McAdams, David E.)

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