Elementary Logic and Engineering

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Michael Titelbaum

for students advised by the College of Engineering

Elementary Logic and Engineering
Lecture 3, 2:30–3:45 TR
General Chemistry I
Lecture 1, 11:00–11:50 MWF; Discussion 306, 2:25–3:15 MW; Lab 606, 11:00–2:00 R
Introduction to Engineering
Lecture 1, 11:00–11:50 T

Mathematics, the natural sciences, engineering, computer sciences, and even social science are filled with systems of equations and symbols that we use to represent, manipulate, and understand reality. Students in this FIG will explore one of these systems—symbolic logic—by creating their own system.

As any engineer will tell you, the best way to understand a particular type of machine is to build one yourself. Students will work together in groups, responding to carefully chosen prompts, to identify, assemble, and evaluate all the necessary parts of a formal logical system. The class will also discuss the history of logic, examining the work of twentieth-century logicians and computer scientists to see how the choices they made for their logical systems contrast with the choices we’ve made for our system in class. Students will then apply the system they’ve built, finding arguments in the world and using their logic to analyze whether those arguments successfully establish their conclusions. Finally, having built and applied our logical system, we will use the techniques of metalogic to prove that it has various reliability features considered desirable by professional logicians. This will reinforce the power of the tool the students have created, and also give them a suggestion of how logic continues on from what they’ve done. We will also consider connections to content introduced in the other courses in this FIG.

Chemistry 103: “General Chemistry I” — Introduction to stoichiometry and the mole concept; the behavior of gases, liquids, and solids; thermochemistry; electronic structure of atoms and chemical bonding; descriptive chemistry of selected elements and compounds; and intermolecular forces.

Interdisciplinary Engineering 110: “Introduction to Engineering” — Introduction to engineering disciplines and professional fields; engineering design process; grand challenges; sustainability, societal, multicultural and global issues encountered in engineering; economic and ethical constraints on engineering solutions; and employment and educational opportunities in engineering.