Archive for the ‘logic’ Category

The Arcane Arts of Ramon Llull : the Dignities

July 7, 2019

Oh, Ramon Llull, where have you been all my life? I’m sure he’s been there all along, death now over seven hundred years in the past, just like always. His legacy seems at first glance to be quite the essence of medieval religion and scholastic philosophy, but still significantly and obscurely different to be enticing to this one. And on further examination, much more.

My schema above has little to do with his grand elaborate figures, except for listing the sixteen attributes he called “dignities”. Llull’s diagrams are full of clock-like wheels within wheels, complicated tableau, and combinatorial patterns. He wished to create a universal model to understand reality, and who wouldn’t want to discover the same? It is said that his methods are akin to an early computer science, and I’m just now starting to understand why.

The magister based the substance of his methods on his Christian faith, although he converted in midlife from Islam. Living in Barcelona, it was probably a good place to make such a change, but felt his calling was to convert others as well, so traveling he went. The methods he developed to convince others of their errors in belief were quite remarkable, as were the volume of his writing.

Like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who lived four hundred years later and was influenced by him, Llull wished to automate reasoning. But instead of building mechanical devices, Llull built computers from paper and ink, rulers and drawing compasses, scissors and glue. And instead of numbers as the smallest tokens of his computer, he used abstractions (i.e. words) that he felt would be understood by everyone in exactly the same way.

For example, he enumerated these sixteen dignities or aspects of his Christian diety, although sometimes he used the first nine. His constructions allowed one to pose questions and then obtain answers mechanistically that would be convincing to all observers of the correctness of the result. Too bad he was ultimately stoned to death while on his missionary work, although he lived to be eighty two.

Llull’s devices remind me of some of my pitiful charts and diagrams, and make me wonder if I may either adapt some of his techniques to my own use, or be inspired to develop others. I suspect I have locked myself into limitations by my approach, or are these constraints to my advantage? It might be hard to have spinning elements, but I can envision sliding elements like Napier’s Bones, origami-style folding and pleating, and even physical constructions like linkages and abacuses.

Now a martyr within the Franciscan Order, Llull’s feast day is June 30, which I’ve now missed. I hope to remember him to repost or improve on this by next year.

Further Reading:

“Let us Calculate!”: Leibniz, Llull, and the Computational Imagination

The memory wheel



The Mouse’s Tale

June 7, 2019

No apologies to Lewis Carroll.

Further Reading:

[* 11.100]




The Lambda Cube

April 25, 2019

More or less from Wikipedia:

In mathematical logic and type theory, the λ-cube is a framework introduced by Henk Barendregt to investigate the different dimensions in which the calculus of constructions is a generalization of the simply typed λ-calculus. Each dimension of the cube corresponds to a new way of making objects depend on other objects, namely

    1. terms allowed to depend on types, corresponding to polymorphism.
    2. types depending on terms, corresponding to dependent types.
    3. types depending on types, corresponding to type operators.

The different ways to combine these three dimensions yield the 8 vertices of the cube, each corresponding to a different kind of typed system.

So in the diagram above, we have emblazoned the names of these type systems ordered from lower left to upper right:

  • λ→: the simply typed lambda calculus, our base system
  • λ2: add 1. above to λ→, giving what is also known as System F or the Girard–Reynolds polymorphic lambda calculus
  • λP: add 2. above to λ→
  • λ_ω_: add 3. above to λ→
  • λP2: combine 1. and 2., λ2 and λP
  • λω: combine 1. and 3., λ2 and λ_ω_
  • λP_ω_: combine 2. and 3., λP and λ_ω_
  • λC: combine 1., 2., and 3., giving the calculus of constructions

Further Reading:

[* 11.86, *11.87]


The Four Binary Operators of Linear Logic, Part 2

April 6, 2019

Ordinarily, inference rules in natural deduction are written using a horizontal line, with the known, true, assumed or proven things written above the line and the inferred things written below the line. Here I’ve taken the artistic liberty to use diagonal lines instead of horizontal ones, and so tried to represent the introduction rules for the four binary operators of Linear Logic. In order to fit additive disjunction “plus” into this schema, I’ve broken the inference rule diagonal and written the duplicate inferred introduction below only once. I’m sure no self-respecting logician would do such a thing.

Further Reading:





Four Forms Make a Universe, Part 2

March 17, 2019

This is a continuation of my last entry. Above is a different representation of the LICO alphabet, with the letters turned 45 degrees counter-clockwise, and rearranged into a symmetric pattern. The letters seem to arise more naturally in this orientation, but then Schmeikal rotates them into his normal schema.

And to the right is a diagram of the logical expressions that correspond to the letters above.

After making these new diagrams, I became inspired and made a few other figures to share with you.

These two versions, with triangles instead of line segments, and also with borders between adjacent triangles removed:






And these two versions, with quarter circles, and also with edges between adjacent quarter circles removed:







Further Reading:

[* 11.50, *11.58]





Four Forms Make a Universe

March 12, 2019

How could I not love a paper with this title? I’ve struggled with it for a bit, and I’ve only managed a couple of diagrams relating the author’s LICO (Linear Iconic) alphabet made up of 16 letters. However, I see that there are a few other papers by Schmeikal available on ResearchGate that look easier to understand. But also however, the first one says to read the “Four Forms” paper first!

At any rate, I present a sixteen-fold of the LICO alphabet, and another of the binary Boolean operators that are in a one-to-one mapping with LICO. There is much to understand from these papers, including much syncretism between various mathematical sixteen-folds, so please forgive me if I don’t explain it all with immediate ease. However, I believe it is well worth the effort to understand.

(Please note that the characters of the LICO alphabet are oriented so that the bottoms of the letters are downward, but the Boolean operators are oriented so that the bottoms of the equations are towards the right angles of the triangles.)

The title comes from the result that four elements of LICO can reproduce the other twelve via linear combinations. These four forms are 1) Boolean True (A or ~A), 2) A, 3) B, and 4) A=B. These are within the interior right-hand triangles in the LICO diagram. Of course, it is well known from Computer Science that the NAND operator (~A or ~B) can also generate all other fifteen operators, but this is by multiple nested operations instead of simple Boolean arithmetic. There are several other “universal” binary gates that can do this as well.

Two other representations that have four elements that can generate the other twelve via linear combinations come from CL(3,1), the Minkowski algebra. These representations are called “Idempotents” and  “Colorspace vectors”. Because of this algebra’s association with space and time in relativity, Schmeikal claims that LICO has ramifications in many far-ranging conceptualizations.

Further Reading:

Bernd Schmeikal / Four Forms Make a Universe, in Advances in Applied Clifford Algebras (2015), Springer Basel (DOI 10.1007/s00006-015-0551-z)


Bernd Schmeikal / Free Linear Iconic Calculus – AlgLog Part 1: Adjunction, Disconfirmation and Multiplication Tables

Bernd Schmeikal / LICO a Reflexive Domain in Space-time (AlgLog Part 3)

[*9.145, *11.50]




The Marriage of Opposites, Part 3

March 2, 2018

Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature; but different in degree.

— From The Kybalion by The Three Initiates

There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.

— Niels Bohr

I have mentioned the alchemical notion of the “Marriage of Opposites” several times (here and here). When opposites marry, what happens as a result? Do they cancel one another out, leaving just a boring average as result? Do they explode in a fiery conflagration, like matter and anti-matter releasing energy? Or do they create a new thing, something that is greater than the sum of their parts?

If opposites annihilate each other, what is the result, emptiness or a void? It is often said that nature abhors a vacuum (“horror vacui”), but I think it is far more true that the mind does. In dualistic thinking, everything that is not one thing must be its opposite. Not good is bad, not happy is sad, not black is white.

In classical logic, the Law of the Excluded Middle says that for any proposition “p”, either it is true or its negation “not p” is true. Thus, “p or not p” is necessarily true, a tautology. Similarly, their combination “p and not p”, cannot ever be true, and so is necessarily false. If one can assume “not p” and derive a contradiction, then “p” must be true (reductio ad absurdum).

In intuitionistic logic, one cannot deduce “p” simply from the falsity of “not p” (that is, “not not p”), one must actually prove that “p” is true. So “p or not p” may still be uncertain, if we don’t know how to prove “p”. However, “p and not p” is still false, based on the falsity of “not p”.

In the viewpoint of Dialetheism, it is offered that there are truths whose opposites are also true, called “true contradictions”. Dialetheisms cannot exist in formal logics because if “p and not p” is true, then you can deduce anything you want and your logic breaks down. Nonetheless, much thought through the years has been dedicated to dialetheisms and their ilk. Please see the recent work by philosopher Graham Priest.

When one considers something and its opposite at the same time, how can you reach an agreement between them? In magnetism, opposite charges attract and like charges repel. All too often, opposite viewpoints vigorously repel each other instead of reaching a happy medium. Each viewpoint considers the other “false” and so they push away at each other, instead of meeting halfway in compromise.

If there is empirical evidence supporting one viewpoint and not the other, and both parties can agree to it, then problem solved. But if viewpoints are more like ideologies, and one side shows evidence that the other side dismisses, what then? Are we only left to agree to disagree? That doesn’t seem like a long term solution.

In this blog I have insinuated but not stated explicitly that a marriage of opposites can often be achieved by combining it with another pair of opposites. Rather than meeting in the middle to a void or an annihilation, one can reach the other side by “going around” the danger, by way of intermediates. Much like Winter reaches Summer by passing through Spring and Summer reaches Winter via Fall, this type of structure is found everywhere in human thinking.

In fact, many systems of pluralistic philosophies are built on fourfolds instead of dualities. For example, see the work of Richard McKeon, specifically this paper.

Further Reading:



A Rosetta Stone

December 6, 2017

Abstract of Physics, Topology, Logic and Computation: A Rosetta Stone by John Baez and Michael Stay:

In physics, Feynman diagrams are used to reason about quantum processes. In the 1980s, it became clear that underlying these diagrams is a powerful analogy between quantum physics and topology: namely, a linear operator behaves very much like a “cobordism”. Similar diagrams can be used to reason about logic, where they represent proofs, and computation, where they represent programs. With the rise of interest in quantum cryptography and quantum computation, it became clear that there is extensive network of analogies between physics, topology, logic and computation. In this expository paper, we make some of these analogies precise using the concept of “closed symmetric monoidal category”. We assume no prior knowledge of category theory, proof theory or computer science.

  • Physics
  • Logic
  • Topology
  • Computation

Perhaps Category Theory is a “Fifth Essence”?

Further Reading:

[*9.168, *10.50]


Laws of Form

September 19, 2016

sq_laws_of_formGeorge Spencer-Brown, author of Laws of Form, recently passed away.

I’ve tried to appreciate this work in the past, but couldn’t really get started. I recently ran across the following four terms associated with the work,

  • Compensation
    -> (())
  • Cancellation
    (()) ->
  • Condensation
    ()() -> ()
  • Confirmation
    () -> ()()

Compensation and Cancellation are both considered Order, and Condensation and Confirmation are both considered Number. Number and Order are distinguished by Distinction, and the pairs of the two distinctions are distinguished by Direction.

I understand Laws of Form starts with “Draw a distinction.” Perhaps I would say “Draw a distinction, then draw a distinction of that distinction.”


For my further reading:


Compensation (+2) (Pairs of parentheses)
Cancellation (-2) (Involutory?)
Condensation (-1) (Idempotence)
Confirmation (+1)



The Semiotic Square

July 29, 2016

sq_greimasFrom Wikipedia:

The semiotic square, also known as the Greimas square, is a tool used in structural analysis of the relationships between semiotic signs through the opposition of concepts, such as feminine-masculine or beautiful-ugly, and of extending the relevant ontology.


In an earlier post I combined an unusual representation of the semiotic square with that of the Tetralemma. Instead of using that one, please use this one instead.




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