Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Joys of Christmas Catching-up

Organizing meetings about the things you enjoy discussing is fun. Hearing the talks, putting up programs, coffee break discussions, are all extremely enjoyable. But to be a grown-up academic you also have to do the very boring stuff. Papers need to go to formal journals, and need to be checked and properly formatted and you must remember to chase-up your  reviewers and all the annoying boring stuff also must be done.

Especially if, like me you don't have students and young ones who might (with a bit of luck) get a kick out of doing it. Especially if you don't have a research grant that pays for some of expenses, things tends to get lost, webpages disappear, papers that you're sure had appeared, cannot be found, etc...

And Christmas is the time to do it, of course. But there aren't enough hours or days in the Christmas break, so you end up feeling that you didn't enjoy the season and you didn't do whatever you needed to do. Oh well. The best we can do is the best we can do.

I promise to try to update my personal webpages soon, but for the time being here, while I'm frantically trying to write the preface for IMLA 2011, here's a webpage  to work for IMLA (Intuitionistic Modal Logic and Applications- the future) to complete, with a bit of luck, in the next Christmas break.

Given the nice discussion initiated by Urs Schreiber in Google+ on Modalities and Modal Type Theory and Intuitionistic Modal Logic  as well as the request to present in BACAT my thoughts on the same, I now have too many ideas and leads that I should like to summarize, (or at least get a grip on) and add to the darned preface.

Here are my slides complaining about the dismal state of Constructive Modal Type Theory in 2013 and in 2014. And some blog posts (K for Kripke, IMLA 2013, IMLA 2011IMLA 2008IMLA 2005IMLA 2002, IMLA 1999, Why Constructive Modal Logics? ) on why I still think this is important.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

D for Dummett

Because of an interesting conversation on modal logic started by Urs Schreiber in google+, I have been re-reading Dummett's "The Elements of Intuitionism".

Trying to find it in the web (I particularly wanted to read his discussion on the distribution laws between  quantifiers and conjunctions/disjunctions) I found instead this most excellent review of the book, by  Sundholm. And another, less favourable, review (of the second edition) by Woleński.

I have not found what I wanted, neither have I advanced much on my attempt at understanding Dummett's lessons. But as usual when I open that book, I learn a little more. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Temporality in Natural Logic

Interstellar is a movie that grew on me. I left the theater annoyed with a few things, in particular this stupid idea that we can all get up and go, live in Saturn in torii where the sky is crops. Healthy crops.
But there is much to love about the movie too, especially the fact that the biggest hero of the story is a woman who solves mathematical problems! this is great!

But yeah the blog post is not about the time puzzles of the movie, after all, any sci-fi has to have a few "temporal knots", but it's about simple, linear time and how to model it. So first here's Dick's old lecture notes on temporality Temporality in Natural Logic. This is/was supposed to be read together with Mark Steedman's The Productions of Time, whose title comes from one of the Blake's  Proverbs of Hell. Hard to get any more poetic than this.

Then, hoping against hope that temporal knots may indeed work for us, instead of against us, here is Dick's submission (Transfer Semantics for the Clear Parser) to NLCS'14 in Vienna.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


There is something rather pleasing about the fact that I forgot completely that my special issue of LiLT (Linguistic Issues in Language Technology)
edited with Annie Zaenen and Cleo Condovadi
Perspectives on Semantic Representations for Textual Inference
had appeared and only "discovered" it by reading the work's internal facebook.


I am working too hard and not moving forward, it seems.
Hopefully things will improve.
The "New Yorker" 404 cartoon seems apt.
If you haven't heard about it Linguistic Issues in Language Technology (LiLT) is an open-access journal that focuses on the relationships between linguistic insights and language technology.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Math Quotes to remember

I wish I had thought this one:
I do mathematics to see the invisible. 

To exist (in mathematics), said Henri Poincaré, is to be free from contradiction.
(Gower's in 2000 The Importance of Mathematics)

  Atiyah apparently said: "Algebra is the offer made by the devil to the mathematician. The devil says: I will give you this powerful machine, it will answer any question you like. All you need to do is give me your soul: give up geometry and you will have this marvelous machine."
  Weyl said: "In these days the angel of topology and the devil of abstract algebra fight for the soul of each individual mathematical domain." (source Don Piponi in G+)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

K for Kripke

I met Saul Kripke only once, when we were invited speakers at  the first Unilog in 2005. Jean-Yves Beziau organized for Mike Dunn and myself to go to the airport with Kripke. In the check-in desk in Geneva, Kripke was the first person I have ever heard of to truly answer the question: Have you been given anything here?  To which he replied that he had been given two books in his honor. Of course this stopped all the check-ins in the airport, as someone was sent down to retrieve his suitacase from the rolling conveyor so that authorities could check that there were indeed two books in his honor and nothing else...

But I digress. There is a very interesting and long discussion going on in Google+ about "necessity and possibility".  I plan to spend some of the weekend reading it properly.

But the reason for this post is that yesterday we had BACAT and I talked about constructive modal logics, once again. I  tried to discuss three old papers:

On an Intuitionistic Modal Logic (with Bierman, Studia Logica 2000)
Computational Types from a LogicalPerspective (with Benton, Bierman, JFP 1998)
Basic Constructive Modal Logic. (with Ritter, Logic without Frontiers: Festschrift for Walter Carnielli, 2011)
 The conversation was good, we talked a little about applications to security and to FRP (Functional Reactive Programming) which I need to know more about. 

A quote from Russell, that starts the excellent history of Modal Logic, written by Rob Goldblatt,
Mathematical Modal Logic: a view of its evaluation.

...there is no one fundamental logical notion of necessity, nor consequently of possibility. If this  conclusion is valid, the subject of modality ought to be banished from logic, since propositions are simply true or false...

Slides from the talk are here.