FOM: Chou vs Hersh; intuitionism and building bridges; legal logic

Peter White peter at
Sun Mar 1 00:19:01 EST 1998

Stephen Simpson 28 Feb 1998 wrote:

> Perhaps classical logic is somewhat constraining.  But is this bad?
> Lawyers deal with proof and rules of evidence, pollsters deal with
> public opinion, but bridge-builders et al deal with truth and facts
> and therefore accept classical laws such as Av~A.  Aren't you glad
> they do?  For instance, Ching-Tsun Chou (posting of 27 Feb 1998
> 20:06:39) is an engineer at Intel.  Aren't you glad that Chou uses
> Boolean logic and classical mathematics?  Do you think the Pentium
> chip would work if the Intel engineers switched to some other kind of
> logic and/or mathematics?

I like it! Ching-Tsun Chou at Intel for Boolean logic, and me at
Motorola for Intuitionistic logic. Judging by the recent performance
of our stocks, the money is mostly on Ching-Tsun Chou.

Of course we use Boolean logic too (you can hardly design circuits
without it) but I am interested in the Intuitionistic philosphy. You
have stated it as "the world consists of our own mental constructions",
but as an engineer I would state it as "I do not believe you can do
it until you can build it". For the rigorous (i.e. mathematical)
construction of a system, the constructivist philosophy would say
"I will not believe you that what you have built works until you
can construct it from already constructed parts". Here I use the
word "construct" as in constructivist proof. While this philosophy
appeals to me as an engineer, I must say I still think very highly
of a system that is proven using classical logic. For us, mathematics
is a tool, not an end in itself.

Peter White, Motorola

More information about the FOM mailing list