Fundamentals of Formalisation level 1: Basic Logic

bytoonalfrink1y4th May 20184 comments

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Followup to Soon: a weekly AI Safety prerequisites module on LessWrong

(note: we have a study group running a week ahead of this series that adds important content. It turns out that to get that content ready on a weekly basis, we would have to cut corners. We prefer quality over speed. We also like predictability. So we decided to cut us some slack and publish every 2 weeks instead for the time being)

(relatedly, the challenges section of this week is not yet complete at the time of posting, so completing those will not yet imply a full understanding of the content)

Basic logic

The big ideas:

  • Sentential Logic
  • Truth Tables
  • Predicate Logic
  • Methods of Mathematical Proof

To move to the next level you need to be able to:

  • Translate informal arguments into formal logic.
  • Evaluate an argument as either valid or invalid.
  • Explain how to prove an implication/conditional, a conjunction, a disjunction, and a negation and know what this looks like informally (i.e. in words and not symbols).

Why this is important:

This builds the basic knowledge you need to be able to produce and understand mathematical proof. A firm foundation in how logical machinery operates is the best way to be assured that a proof you produce or read is correct. This also teaches the basic methods by which a proof is produced.


Without further ado: you can find the first lesson on our course platform.

Every week you have 2 options: do the whole thing, or skip to the "challenges" in the end. The latter option is for those people that suspect they already know the subject. It serves as a means of verifying that assumption.

We hope this track will facilitate aspiring AI Safety researchers in their studies. If it leads to even one success story, it will have been worth it. Maybe that success story is you!

Happy studying