Monday, June 6, 2022

Late for MRC

 I have not written here for more than a month as I was preparing frantically for our Applied Category Theory-MRC in Beaver Hollow on the Dialectica construction in programming. Then I got ill and had to be taken to the emergency room in the Stanford Hospital.  Twice. 

The first time I went simply to see my general doctor because I was feeling a bit weak, but the doctors didn't like  my pulse rate at all and send me to the ER immediately. I thought it was a big joke, as I was feeling fine, I didn't even realize that my heart was racing. They did something that I thought was a small miracle of science: a cardioversion. This is when they inject a drug that stops your heart for a second and that reboots it. So I thought they had solved the problem and then I wanted to go home and forget all about it.

However, four days later, the same thing happened again. This time I was  fully aware of the heart racing and I panicked quite a bit. I ended up having another cardioversion, but I wasn't marvelling at their technology anymore. I was just worrying that this might be it. That I was going to die of an overzealous heart. 

I stayed in the hospital one night, under the counselling of a young ER doctor who said, `if you were my mom, I wouldn't let you out of here'. That was pretty convincing. In the hospital I started medication and, the next day, met my cardiologist.  I am now trying to take small steps in the direction of accepting that instead of being super healthy and able to do anything I want, I am now very fragile, as this whole thing might start again, from nowhere.

This whole drama meant that I was not able to participate of our MRC fully. I tried at the distance, but it doesn't work very well. More than the two years (pandemic issues) in the making and the last  month of intense preparation have at least meant that the group was able to do quite a bit. I'm extremely proud of the Team Dialectica, pictured below.

Our group was divided into 4 subgroups: Dialectica and Games (Jeremie), Dialectica and Poly (Nelson), Dialectica and Lenses (Bruno and Matteo), and Dialectica Petri Net implementations (Eric). The names in parentheses are the leads of the subgroups. The issues are overlapping, of course. And the competencies and backgrounds of the participants are very different. But I'm told the group had a good time, despite the fact that one of our own got covid there or getting there. He's fine now though!

The presencial phase of the MRC is done, but now comes the second phase, working out the ideas discussed during the brainstorm in Beaver Hollow. I am not very sure how this phase is supposed to go, but I do hope we'll be able to get papers from all the  subgroups!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Natural Language and Computer Science (NLCS): what's that?

 Larry Moss (pictured above in the official department photo) and I have worked on our small workshop NLCS (Natural Language and Computer Science) for several years now. The main goal of the workshop was to introduce our friends in theoretical computer science to the extremely nice problems that NL semantics and computational linguistics throws at us, as logicians. And conversely.

The first edition of the workshop happened in New Orleans in 2013 and it was a lot of fun. As we said, when introducing the workshop, associated to LiCS 2013:

Formal tools coming from logic and category theory are important in both natural language semantics and in computational semantics. Moreover, work on these tools borrows heavily from all areas of theoretical computer science. In the other direction, applications having to do with natural language have inspired developments on the formal side. 

We were then and still are interested in work covering both directions: work in NL that is an application of work in CS and work in CS that uses the tools of NL. For that first edition of NLCS we had as Invited Speakers Robin Cooper, Ian Pratt-Hartmann, and Wlodek Zadrozny, then recently arrived at UNC, Charlotte, from IBM. Our program committee was very small, us, Annie Zaenen and Bill MacCartney. 

 Maybe the acronym wasn't a very clever idea, as baseball will always be much more popular and the National League Championship Series makes us all but unfindable in the internet.

After that we had NLCS'14, NLCS'15, NLCS'16, NLCS'18 and NLCS'19. So six workshops so far. Lots of interesting work presented. The next step is to find all the programs!


Friday, April 1, 2022

Kolmogorov the Genius


It feels a bit odd when your mathematical heroes are so far away from your usual heroes. 

Take Gentzen, for instance: maybe he was misguided, and incompetent as far as political views go and not genuinely evil. But the fact is that he was a card-carrying Nazi too and that doesn't feel good. Maybe this is compensated by Dummett being a card-carrying good guy in the fight against racism through his whole life, I don't know. But I worry that someone is going to come up with a story of hypocrisy or something. Hope not!

Meanwhile, I wonder if I am the only one noticing that Kolmogorov/Alexandrov is the biggest gay love story ever? they always met in the same holiday house for more than 40 years. and they were not coy to mention which other in all sorts of official documents. they were both married, but still, how did they manage? The Wikipedia article does point it out.

A controversial life altogether: a nobleman, with an unmarried mother who died of chilbirth, a father who disappeared in the Civil War, the Suslin affair, the Soviet honours, the dedication to teaching. and the creation of whole gigantic areas of mathematics, the engine of the transformations in our society. 

But yes, the blog post is to remind me to read properly Kolmogorov's 1925 article

  • 1925. "On the principle of the excluded middle" in Jean van Heijenoort, 1967. A Source Book in Mathematical Logic, 1879–1931. Harvard Univ. Press: 414–37.

and to keep a link to the London Mathematical Society Kolmogorov Obituary, (

Maybe this seems crazy, but I also wanted to add here a comment about Dan Hernest recently published paper "Modal Functional Dialectica Interpretation" with Triffonov. Because they start with 

Functional interpretations, derived from Goedels's computability adaptation of Aristotle's insights...

and I wanted to know what were these  Aristotle's insights that were referred to, so I wrote to Dan. But to him it was folklore, in Romanian, via the philosopher Mircea Florian, who translated Aristotle from old Greek. So no clear reference here.

I wanted to thank Samuel Gomes da Silva for all the work together in the last ten years! It has certainly kept me going!  

Thanks also to the Logicas Brasileiras for the Carol Blasio Day! It was a blast, as it's usually the case with our antics. But more about it in the next post.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Down Memory Lane

I was trying to find evidence for the fact that I am who I say I am. 

As we know the very bad guys in the publishing racket are always inventing new forms of torture us in terms of "information systems" that are not even passable at what they say they do. While we researchers
have to jump through the rings, pull the ropes, (in poetical Portuguese) "fazer das tripas coração" to convince them that indeed we wrote that paper or the other. 

But sometimes you find quite interesting things on the web that you didn't know were online. Like this neat table with my technical reports from the Computer Lab, Cambridge. I also found  my name in three different lists of former members of subgroups of the Lab: in the Automated Reasoning group, the Natural Language and Information Processing and the Programming, Logic and Semantics.

The work in ILL with Sara Kalvala in Isabelle is there too, as is the the much more recent stuff for ACT2021, both posters with Elena di Lavore and Wilmer Leal and with Davide Trotta and Matteo Spadetto. 

There was also a very interesting book on the history of computing and the lab Cambridge Computing: the first 75 years.

A wiki on Isabelle that looks very informative, think Hausdorff Trimester 2024.

Finally I found  a SYCO3 paper I should've known about: "Dioptics: a Common Generalization ofOpen Games and Gradient-Based Learners" by David “davidad” Dalrymple.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Research Clusters

 I gave an internal talk at the Topos Institute on the axes of my research,  at the end of last year.  I tried to describe the  research clusters above. 

Yes, the last axis, the lexical resources stuff has been suffering a bit lately, as has the Natural Language inference. This is because the Dialectica Spaces are taking all the 'oxygen' available. Because good things need to happen before our MRC programme gets off the ground soon. Unfortunately the Dialectica spaces are not going very far,  either. 

Some things have been happening, e.g. the two papers with Davide and Matteo  are very cool indeed. and I'm hoping for lots more on the subject.

Elena, Wilmer and I  managed to submit our "Dialectica Petri Nets", which is great. 

Katerina, Livy and I managed to describe some simple, but interesting application of basic transformers technology, i.e. spaCy, to historic text.  Where there's text, there are applications of spaCy, I'm sure.

But by and large I am losing the war. I need to finish my ill-fated research proposal, I need to resubmit the three papers that were rejected last year, I have to prepare two Invited talks, I have  several rounds of reviews that I need to deal with yesterday, I am only half way through with the posts about the DLMPST, the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology.

Also, for this blog, I need to do a similar job to the one I did with Twelve Days of Christmas: I need to see which papers have been written  from my list of talks at Talking the Talk. Also I need to clean up my Overleaf account, update my personal website, my Lattes, my Google site. thank goodness tomorrow is Sunday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Friends and Women Celebrations


Toucans are really beautiful birds. As are hummingbirds. And the blossom in the garden is almost all gone already, while I despair of getting my work done. Yes, I know I need to say no, I need to decline invitations to speak, to review, to teach, to record and/or to judge stuff. And I need to get back to my yoga, to some aerobic exercises, to cooking some decent food--instead of pretending that not eating will make me less fat. It won't, it only makes me cranky and ugglier.

But while I do have all these wishful thoughts, there's a very finite number of truly awaken hours in the week and an awful lot of stuff that needs to happen in these hours. I could do without friends turning out to not be good friends after all. I guess it's the curse of getting excited about people and projects: it comes with big disappointments too.

Anyways here are two videos, which have nothing to do with disappointing friends. The first one is "Mulheres na Ciência", seven minutes, beautiful edition, beautiful diverse women talking! 

The other one is a longer conversation among logician friends. We are "Lógicas Brasileiras" and this conversation at the request of our Mexican friends was great! We feel very honoured that the logicians of LogicaMX, via Maria Miércoles-MartínezOrdaz, invited us to celebrate with them Friendship and Collaborative Logic work. We had a blast, check it out at!

"Lógicas Brasileiras" is an outreach project that aims at promoting the work of Brazilian female logicians and members of underrepresented groups in logic.  ---- Website:


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Talking the Talk

 This time of the year the fog looks pretty magical sometimes. The grass is a beautiful new green and sometimes it looks like European Spring, when it's the middle of Winter in the rest of the United States. Nature sends confused signals: both the last roses of the season and finally the flowering of the Christmas cactus.

But January is also a time to count beans and to organize the work, as much as possible. Which is not much. So I will try to list talks given during 2021.

1.  The year started (Jan 14) with "Logica e representatividade", as part of World Logic Day,

2.  The first talk non-outreach was "A semântica nossa de cada dia" (Our daily semantics of each day) as part of the 1st Brazilian Meeting on Category Theory. (Jan 25-29)  Recording at

3. Categorical Models for Explicit Substitutions, Feb 8, 2021 Summer Workshop at University of Brasilia.

4. Would be a talk at UFPe, but there was a dental surgery that caused problems, need to contact Eudes again.

4. Women in Logic 2021, as part of LiCS, (no talk, but through the night) website

5.  Dialectica and Kolmogorov Problems, Finding the Right Abstractions, 2021/05/19.

6. Constructive Modalities, Celebrating Women in Mathematics, Dynamic Women, 2021/05/25.

7. Categorical Semantics for Explicit Substitutions, University of Cambridge, Category Theory Seminar, 2021/06/01.

8. Linear Logic and Constructive Mathematics, Philosophy PUC-Rio , Working Logician 2021, 2021/04/21.

9. Dialectica and Kolmogorov Problems, Logic Colloquium, 19-24 July.   

10. Ecumenical Negation: one or two?  Logic Colloquium, 19-24 July. (I didn't give this talk)

11. Constructive Modalities, Ticamore project final meeting16-17 June 2021.

12. Categorical Explicit Substitutions, Topos Colloquium, 19 August 2021

13. Dialectica Comonads, CALCO Invited Talk,

14. My   Career as a Mathematician in Industry, Lucy Cavendish College, date?

15. Semantics and Reasoning: for NLP, AI and ACT, Ada Lovelace Day, americanas s.a., 2021/10/20.

16. Constructive and Modal and Linear Logics, Tallinn University of Technology, 2021/12/02.

17. The importance of being Earnest: open datasets in Portuguese, OpenCor Workshop, BRACIS, 2021/12/03.

18. Negation in the ecumenical system, 1st Brazil-Colombia Logic meeting, 2021/12/17.   

I also gave two talks in the internal Topos seminar:

19. Dialectica for Friends (2021/02/19)

20. Constructive Modal and Linear Logics (2021/10/20)