Sunday, January 25, 2009

Logic? Who needs it.

"Logic? who needs that froo-froo, stuff anyway? It all just comes down to semantics." I have heard such sentiments from a variety of people. But the fact is that we all need logic and use it every day.
But let's start with the fact that we all use it. If you are reading this blog entry, you are using one of the great inventions enabled by logic: the digital computer. (Despite my youthful good looks, I am old enough to remember when there was a distinction between "digital" and "analog" computers.) Digital logic in use today is a result of the work of Augustus de Morgan, an English logician and mathematician from the nineteenth century.
De Morgan's rules go as follows:
not (P and Q) = (not P) or (not Q)
not (P or Q) = (not P) and (not Q)
These rules are applied by engineers in the integrated circuits and software in use in all modern computers. And cell phones. And TV's. And ....

More broadly, why do we need logic? We need it in order to sort out complex problems and, hopefully, formulate solutions.

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