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Logic as Algebra

A book by Paul Halmos

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A Builder of a Solid Foundation in Mathematics

  • Feb 8, 2000
It can be strongly argued that logic is the most ancient of all the mathematical sub-disciplines. When mathematics as we know it was being created so many years ago, it was necessary for the concepts of rigid analytical reasoning to be developed. Of the three earliest areas, geometry was born out of the necessity of accurately measuring land plots and large buildings and number theory was required for sophisticated counting techniques. Logic, the third area, had no "practical" godfather, other than being the foundation for rigorous reasoning in the other two. In the intervening years, so many additional areas of mathematics have been developed, with logic and logical reasoning continuing to be the fundamental building block of them all. Therefore, every mathematician should have some exposure to logic, with the simple history lesson automatically being included. This short, but excellent book fills that niche.
The title accurately sets the theme for the entire book. Algebra is nothing more than a precise notation in combination with a rigorous set of rules of behavior. When logic is approached in that way, it becomes much easier to understand and apply. This is especially necessary in the modern world where computing is so ubiquitous. Many areas of mathematics are incorporated into the computer science major, but none is more widely used than logic. Written at a level that can be comprehended by anyone in either a computer science or mathematics major, it can be used as a textbook in any course targeted at these audiences.
The topics covered are standard although the algebraic approach makes it unique. One simple chapter subheading, `Language As An Algebra', succinctly describes the theme. Propositional calculus, Boolean algebra, lattices and predicate calculus are the main areas examined. While the treatment is short, it is thorough, providing all necessary details for a sound foundation in the subject. While the word "readable" is sometimes overused in describing books, it can be used here without hesitation.
Sometimes neglected as an area of study in their curricula, logic is an essential part of all mathematics and computer training, whether formal or informal. The authors use a relatively small number of pages to present an extensive amount of knowledge in an easily understandable way. I strongly recommend this book.

Published in Smarandache Notions Journal reprinted with permission.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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About this book


Here is an introduction to modern logic that differs from others by treating logic from an algebraic perspective. What this means is that notions and results from logic become much easier to understand when seen from a familiar standpoint of algebra. The presentation, written in the engaging and provocative style that is the hallmark of Paul Halmos, from whose course the book is taken, is aimed at a broad audience, students, teachers and amateurs in mathematics, philosophy, computer science, linguistics and engineering; they all have to get to grips with logic at some stage. All that is needed to understand the book is some basic acquaintance with algebra.
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ISBN-10: 0883853272
ISBN-13: 978-0883853276
Author: Paul Halmos
Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America

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