# John Venn - Philosopher

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John Venn | |
---|---|

Born | (1834-08-04)4 August 1834 Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England |

Died | 4 April 1923(1923-04-04) (aged 88) Cambridge, England |

Nationality | English |

Fields | Mathematics Logic[1] Philosophy |

Institutions | University of Cambridge |

Alma mater | University of Cambridge |

Notable awards | Fellow of the Royal Society |

John Venn, FRS[2][3] (4 August 1834 – 4 April 1923) was an English logician and philosopher. He is famous for introducing the Venn diagram, which is used in many fields, including set theory, probability, logic, statistics, and computer science.

## Life and career

John Venn was born on 4 August 1834 in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire to Martha Sykes and Rev. Henry Venn, who was the rector of the parish of Drypool. His mother died when he was three years old.[4] Venn was descended from a long line of church evangelicals, including his grandfather John Venn.[5]

He began his education in London joining Sir Roger Cholmeley's School,[6] now known as Highgate School,with his brother Henry in September 1846. He moved on to Islington proprietary school and in October 1853 he went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge[7].[8] In 1857, he obtained his degree in mathematics and became a fellow. In 1903 he was elected President of the College.[9], a post he held until his death.[10] He would follow his family vocation and become an Anglican priest, ordained in 1859, serving first at the church in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and later in Mortlake, Surrey.[11]

In 1862, he returned to Cambridge University as a lecturer in moral science, studying and teaching logic and probability theory.

In 1868, he married Susanna Carnegie Edmonstone with whom he had one son, John Archibald Venn.

In 1883, he resigned from the clergy having concluded that Anglicanism was incompatible with his philosophical beliefs.[8] In that same year, Venn was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded a Sc.D. by Cambridge.

He died on 4 April 1923; the cause of his death was not specified.

## Memorials

- Venn is commemorated at the University of Hull by the Venn Building, built in 1928
- A stained glass window in the dining hall of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, commemorates Venn's work.
- In commemoration of the 180th anniversary of Venn's birth, on 4 August 2014, Google replaced its normal logo on global search pages with an interactive and animated Google doodle that incorporated the use of a Venn diagram. [12]

## Publications

Venn compiled Alumni Cantabrigienses, a biographical register of former members of the University of Cambridge.[13] This work is still being updated online, see #External links, below. His other works include:

- "Consistency and Real Inference". Mind 1 (1). January 1876.

- Symbolic Logic. London: Macmillan and Company. 1881. ISBN 1-4212-6044-1.

- "On the Employment of Geometrical Diagrams for the Sensible Representation of Logical Propositions". Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 4: 47–59. 1880.

- The Logic of Chance: An Essay on the Foundations and Province of the Theory of Probability, with Especial Reference to Its Application to Moral and Social Science (First ed.). London and Cambridge: Macmillan. 1866. . Two further editions were published[14][15]

- Caius College. London: F. E. Robinson & Company. 1901.

- Caius, John (1904). John Venn, ed. The Annals of Gonville and Caius College. Printed for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, sold by Deighton, Bell & Co.

- Annals of a Clerical Family: Being Some Account of the Family and Descendants of William Venn, Vicar of Otterton, Devon, 1600-1621. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1904. ISBN 978-1-108-04492-9.

- On Some of the Characteristics of Belief. London and Cambridge: MacMillan an Co. 1870.

## Notes

- Jump up ^ Venn 1880.
- Jump up ^ Anon 1926.
- Jump up ^ Pickles 2004.
- Jump up ^ Famous-mathematicians.com.
- Jump up ^ School of Mathematics 2003.
- Jump up ^ Highgate School Register
- Jump up ^ http://www.oxforddnb.com/templates/article.jsp?articleid=36639
- ^ Jump up to: a b Duignan 2014.
- Jump up ^ http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Obits/Venn.html
- Jump up ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/625445/John-Venn
- Jump up ^ Soylent Communications 2014.
- Jump up ^ YouTube
- Jump up ^ Venn 1922.
- Jump up ^ Venn 1876.
- Jump up ^ Venn 1888.

## References

- Venn, John (1922). Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

- Venn, J. (1880). "I.On the diagrammatic and mechanical representation of propositions and reasonings". Philosophical Magazine Series 5 10 (59): 1–18. doi:10.1080/14786448008626877. edit

- Anon (1926). "Obituary Notices of Fellows Deceased: Rudolph Messel, Frederick Thomas Trouton,
**John Venn**, John Young Buchanan, Oliver Heaviside, Andrew Gray". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 110 (756): i–v. doi:10.1098/rspa.1926.0036. edit

- Pickles, John D. (2004). ‘
**Venn, John Archibald**(1883–1958)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40972. edit

- Duignan, Brian (22 May 2014). "John Venn (English logician and philosopher)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 3 August 2014.

- Anon. "John Venn – Mathematician Biography, Facts and Pictures". Famous-mathematicians.com. Retrieved 3 August 2014.

- Anon (October 2003). "Venn biography". School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland. Retrieved 3 August 2014.

- Soylent Communications (2014). "John Venn". Retrieved 3 August 2014.

## External links

- A Cambridge Alumni Database
- The Venn archives clarify the confusing timeline of the various Venns.
- Obituary of John Venn (New York Times)
- Portrait of Venn by Charles Brock, and a link to a site about Venn
- Another (clearer) view of the Venn stained glass window
- John Venn at Find a Grave