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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.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
I'm sure you've heard or even taken part in a conversation where someone has said, that makes no sense. What exactly does that mean? How do we know when something makes sense? The answer is, we know because of logic. Because even though we don't go around thinking about logic on a day-to-day basis, it's the very foundation of how we communicate and how we make statements about the world. For us, ideas and the words we use to communicate them are vague. Logic allows us to apply rules to these words, and through these rules assign simple values to them identifying them as true or false.
In simple terms, a true statement makes sense. A false statement does not. So how does this work in real life? Consider our previous example of the tree. What if I made the statement that all trees are green? More than likely, you would tell me this is not true, it makes no sense. You could even point me to a tree that is not green like a Japanese Bloodgood Maple whose leaves are dark purple. But, even if you had never seen a tree that wasn't green, you could still say my statement is not true based on logic.
All trees are green is a universal statement applying the value of green to all items referred to as trees. But because the value green isn't required for something to be a tree, the statement is not logically sound. It's a classic case of going from the particular to the universal. And it's a type of logical error humans make all the time. A true universal statement about all trees, would be the definition of a tree. A woody perennial plant, typically having a single trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance.
Later in the course, we'll look at universal and particular statements in more detail. We use logic all the time in our everyday language. If you ask me, do you like hiking? I may respond yes, but not if it's raining. By using the logic operators not and if, I can stipulate under what circumstances I like hiking. When it's not raining. If a server asks you, do you want fries or salad? And you answer, fries unless everyone is having dessert. In that case, I'll have the salad.
You are giving the server a logical argument, from which he can conclude not only whether you will have fries or salad, but also why. Salad if your party's having dessert. Otherwise fries. A statement like, are all your cupcakes gluten free? Is a perfect example of clear and unambiguous communication based on logic. It has a simple yes or no answer that can be provided without further specification or follow-up questions. Or you could say it provides a great user experience.