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True and false: How computer logic works


From:

Foundations of UX: Logic and Content

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: True and false: How computer logic works

The age we live in, the information age, is defined by our interactions with and use of computers. Computers act as a our intermeidaries, between us and information. And between us and other people. In many respects, modern communication and sharing of information is defined by computer algorithms. This means it's vitally important that we understand how computers use logic to process information so that we can enable the computer to do what we want to and also so we can understand information we get from computers.
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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of UX: Logic and Content
1h 45m Beginner Dec 02, 2013

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Foundations of UX: Logic and Content looks at how designers, developers, and content creators can use the ancient art of logic and reasoning to improve user experiences and facilitate communication. Morten Rand-Hendriksen looks at the principles of logic, how computer logic and human logic differ, and how these differences can be used to improve communication.

The core idea of logic is to create a system in which communication is clear, precise, and unambiguous, which is (or at least should be) the goal of any website or other communication.

Topics include:
  • How humans communicate
  • Comparing human and computer communication
  • Speaking logically
  • Using logical arguments
  • Understanding the limits of computer logic
  • Formatting information for humans
  • Communicating with logic
Subject:
Web
Author:
Morten Rand-Hendriksen

True and false: How computer logic works

The age we live in, the information age, is defined by our interactions with and use of computers. Computers act as a our intermeidaries, between us and information. And between us and other people. In many respects, modern communication and sharing of information is defined by computer algorithms. This means it's vitally important that we understand how computers use logic to process information so that we can enable the computer to do what we want to and also so we can understand information we get from computers.

This process starts with understanding how our computers see the world. If asked to draw a picture of what happens in a computer, you'll probably draw a long list of ones and zeros like this. These ones and zeros are natural language representations for the core operating principle of a computing circuit. One means the circuit is on. Zero means the circuit is off. Computers are complex logic machines. Following the basic principles of logic that we've discussed in this course, they test statements and arguments for validity and output simple true false results.

In fact, the very circuitry that runs in the computer is called logic circuitry. And a computer processor is actually composed of millions of specialized circuits that can process the standard logic operators and, or, exclusive or, and so on. Formal logic dictates everything that happens on a computer. Every operation a computer performs is a logic operation for which it produces one of two answers, one, true, or zero, false.

Either the circuit lets electricity run through it Or it does not. To process a complex operation, the computer has to perform a series of smaller operations one after the other in sequence. If the waiter at the restaurant from our earlier example was a computer, the logic function or program that decides whether or not I'm having fries or salad could look like this. Now we can input, all having dessert equals true, and the computer goes through the function figuring out whether you want a salad or fries and also, how many desserts to prepare.

Based on the input, the computer will always be logically correct. But if the input or the program is incorrect, the computer will provide an answer that is valid but not sound. Meaning, though it's logically true it is not actually true. This is very different from how humans operate. And as we'll see shortly this, difference can produce some rather interesting problems unless we're aware of it. In other words, when we deal with computers we have to change the way we think and how we handle information.

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