

Introduction to Logic

Tools for Thought


Although Logic is a single field of study, there is more than one logic in this field. In the three main units of this book, we look at three different types of logic, each more sophisticated than the one before.

Propositional Logic is the logic of propositions. Symbols in the language represent "conditions" in the world, and complex sentences in the language express interrelationships among these conditions. The primary operators are Boolean connectives, such as and, or, and not.

Relational Logic expands upon Propositional Logic by providing a means for explicitly talking about individual objects and their interrelationships (not just monolithic conditions). In order to do so, we expand our language to include object constants and relation constants, variables and quantifiers.

Functional Logic takes us one step further by providing a means for describing worlds with infinitely many objects. The resulting logic is much more powerful than Propositional Logic and Relational Logic. Unfortunately, as we shall see, many of the nice computational properties of the first two logics are lost as a result.

Despite their differences, there are many commonalities among these logics. In particular, in each case, there is a language with a formal syntax and a precise semantics; there is a notion of logical entailment; and there are legal rules for manipulating expressions in the language.
These similarities allow us to compare the logics and to gain an appreciation of the fundamental tradeoff between expressiveness and computational complexity. On the one hand, the introduction of additional linguistic complexity makes it possible to say things that cannot be said in more restricted languages. On the other hand, the introduction of additional linguistic flexibility has adverse effects on computability. As we proceed though the material, our attention will range from the completely computable case of Propositional Logic to a variant that is not at all computable.

One final comment. In the hopes of preventing difficulties, it is worth pointing out a potential source of confusion. This book exists in the meta world. It contains sentences about sentences; it contains proofs about proofs. In some places, we use similar mathematical symbology both for sentences in Logic and sentences about Logic. Wherever possible, we try to be clear about this distinction, but the potential for confusion remains. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory. We are using Logic to study Logic. It is our most powerful intellectual tool.

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