Birthday: August 4, 1834 (Leo)

Born In: Kingston upon Hull

(Mathematician)

Mathematicians #106

Scientists #414

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British Celebrities Born In August

Died At Age: 88

place of death: Cambridge

City: Kingston Upon Hull, England

discoveries/inventions: Venn Diagram

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education: 1857 - Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Highgate School

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John Venn was born on 4 August 1834 to Reverend Henry Venn and Martha Sykes in the town named Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire, England. Venn’s father was the rector of a parish and in fact his family had traditionally been evangelicals who had been involved with the church for many generations.

John Venn’s family was disciplinarian and considering the fact that they were church evangelicals it was only natural. In 1846, at the age of 12, Venn entered the Sir Roger Cholmeley’s School. Later on his parents sent him to the Islington proprietary school located in London.

He graduated from high school in the year 1853 and upon graduation he went to Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge.In 1857, he graduated from Cambridge University, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. Right after graduating he became a fellow at the University.

John Venn worked as a fellow in mathematics at the University of Cambridge soon after he graduated from the same university and in 1862, he was appointed as a lecturer in ‘philosophy of science’ as well as in logic at the Gonville and Caius College.

Initially John Venn was only engaged in teaching mathematics, logic, statistics and probability theory to the students of Gonville and Caius College, however in 1869, he started to give lectures at other colleges at the University of Cambridge as well. It was during this stage of his career that John Venn developed the ‘Venn Diagram’.

John Venn had become an Anglican priest, in 1859, two years after graduating from the University of Cambridge in order to keep the family tradition alive but in the year 1883 he felt that it was something that did not agree with his own views on life and spirituality. He resigned the same year from the clergy.

It was in the year 1883 that Venn’s contributions towards the study of logic, statistics and mathematics was duly noted by the academic world as he was awarded a ‘Doctor of Science’ by the Royal Society. It was then regarded as one of the highest accomplishments for most exponents of science.

John Venn was held in high regard in the college in which he used to be a student and where he started off his career as an academic; which is why the college elected him to the post of ‘President of the College’ in 1903. He held the post for the rest of his life.

Throughout his life as an academic of note, John Venn did a lot of research but his most important work is that of developing the Venn Diagram that went on to create a new way of looking visually at mathematical and statistical problems. Venn diagrams, named after him, are still in wide use not only in academics but in many other different walks of life.

In 1883, John Venn was named as a Fellow of the Royal Society following an election and at the time when he was inducted, it remained one of the highest honours for all exponents of science in Great Britain.

John Venn got married to Susanna Carnegie Edmonstone, in 1868, at the age of 34. The couple had a son named John Archibald Venn, who went on to become a well-known economist.

John Venn breathed his last on 4 April 1923, at the age of 88.

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