Adapted from a photograph taken by Maull and Fox. studio

1834

1923

John Venn was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for creating Venn diagrams, which are widely used to show relationships between different sets of things. He was born on August 4, 1834, in Hull, England, and came from a family of religious leaders. Venn followed in his father's footsteps and studied theology at Cambridge University. However, he soon developed a strong interest in mathematics and logic, which led him to explore how to use mathematical ideas to explain complex concepts in a simple way.

After graduating, Venn became a lecturer at Cambridge, where he began working on his famous diagrams. A Venn diagram is a simple way to visually represent sets of objects or ideas. The circles in the diagrams show how different groups overlap with each other. For example, in a Venn diagram with two circles, one circle might represent people who like cats and the other might represent people who like dogs. The overlapping section of the circles shows the people who like both. Venn diagrams are now used in many areas, from mathematics and science to everyday life.

Although Venn is mostly known for his diagrams, he made other important contributions to mathematics, particularly in the field of logic and probability. He published several books during his lifetime, including *The Logic of Chance* (1866), where he explained how probability could be used to understand random events. This work was groundbreaking because it showed how mathematics could help explain uncertainty and chance in a clear and logical way.

John Venn lived a long and successful life. He continued to teach and write until his retirement and was highly respected in the academic community. He passed away on April 4, 1923, at the age of 88. Today, his diagrams remain a popular and useful tool for explaining complicated ideas in a simple and visual way, making his contributions to mathematics and logic lasting and meaningful for learners of all ages.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Steve Phelps

Appreciate the work of John Venn by trying some of the maths that this mathematician is known for.

There is an activity called Venn Totals that you could try right now. Practise reading and creating Venn diagrams containing two and three sets and the number of elements in those sets.

So there's no better time than the present to learn some mathematics from the past: let's Go!

Transum has many activities for the topic 'Sets' and recommends you try some of them.

Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today: let's Go!

THE HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS PAGE

Print this large QR code and display it on your classroom's History of Mathematics timeline.

When people scan the code with their phones, they'll be directed to this page about John Venn.

https://www.transum.org/Maths/History/Mathematician.asp?ID=56