W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > December 2001

Re: Logic and proof tutorial resources

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 18:36:11 -0600
Message-Id: <p05101002b83c0028fc8e@[]>
To: "Smith, Ned" <ned.smith@intel.com>
Cc: www-rdf-logic@w3.org
>I'd like to find good concise tutorial material for
>logic & proof disciplines. I've found WikiPedia[1] at Ohio State to
>be a good resource. It doesn't assume the reader is a logician.
>However it lacks information on the mechanics of proofs.

I'd like to find good concise tutorial material for quantum 
electrodynamics, which is written in plain English and doesn't assume 
that the reader has any math beyond linear algebra; but I don't 
expect to find it. Some things just do require a certain minimal 
level of technical savvy.

>I expect for semantic web vision to be realized, proof mechanics must be
>accessible to the average developer/web professional.

Proof mechanics?? I don't think so. We hope that the machines will 
handle this kind of thing, surely. What is more likely to be useful 
is a basic grasp of theories of meaning, and maybe a certain ability 
to 'think logically', where that is hard to define exactly but can be 
taught to non-mathematical undergraduates, and about half of them get 
it eventually. I think the essential key to this 'thinking logically' 
is to learn to mentally stand a little aloof from the words in an 
argument, in order to *not* read the 'usual' meanings of the word 
forms. You kind of have to put your everyday common sense on one 
side, and pretend that you know nothing except what the words say, 
exactly. It takes time and some native talent to develop this skill. 
We don't expect that people can write Java or even HTML without doing 
some hard work first. Why would you expect logic to be different?

>HTML and the browser
>made the Internet more accessible when commandline processors to things like
>gopher, ftp and smtp were the norm.
>Does the list recommend resources in addition to[1]?
>[1] http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/Larrys_Text

I really would not recommend this, to be honest. Not to criticize it, 
but it is aimed at philosophy students. Almost everything in this is 
irrelevant to the kind of competence that one needs, and much of it 
is actively misleading (particularly the emphasis - common in intro. 
philosophy courses - on 'natural language' arguments rather than 
formal logics.) For example, machine inference systems have not used 
rules like modus ponens since the early 1960s.

Pat Hayes
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Received on Tuesday, 11 December 2001 19:36:17 UTC

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