Monday, April 13, 2015

[OlymPri20150412LGC] Your #logic a House of Cards?


     This is an olympiad type of question that tests one’s use of logic.  Sadly, logic is seldom taught in schools, except maybe in courses like knowledge inquiry, theory of knowledge, or in selected topics like geometry.  Mathematics is actually very much connected with logic, but it seems to be regarded as difficult to teach.  Being able to use logic and think critically is very important in our lives in various aspects.
     Let us study how we can analyse conditional statements using logic.

Analysing Conditional Statement with Logic
     A conditional statement is a statement of the form “If  H  then  C.”  An example would be: “If the blue litmus paper turns red, then the liquid is an acid”.  The front clause H (the part about the litmus paper turning red) is called the hypothesis (or premise).  The latter clause  C  (the part about the acid) is called the conclusion.  Every conditional statement has three other related forms: the contrapositive, the converse, and the inverse.

     For example, let say there is a NC16-rated movie and you can watch it only if you are at least 16 years old.  So  H := “watch NC16”  and  C := “16 years old and above”.  The conditional statement means “If you want to watch the movie, then you must be 16 years old and above”.  The contrapositive is “If you below 16 years old, then you cannot watch the movie”.  The contrapositive always has exactly the same meaning as the original conditional statement.  If one is true, so is the other.  If one is false, so is the other.  The contrapositive is merely phrased in a different way.
     The converse says “If you are 16 and above, then you will watch the movie.”  The inverse would say “If you don’t want to watch the movie, then you are not 16 and above.”  Note that the inverse is the contrapositive of the converse.  The inverse always has exactly the same meaning as the converse.  If one is true, so is the other.  If one is false, so is the other.
     The converse (and the inverse) has a different meaning from the original statement.  If the original statment is true, the converse may or may not be true.  In our example, “If you want to watch the movie, then you must be 16 years old and above” is true, but the converse “If you are 16 years old and above, then you want to watch the movie.”  may not be true, as some people who are 16 years old and above may want to do something else.  Like reading a book.  Or playing golf.  So you see, there are really two camps: the original conditional statement and its contrapositive in one camp, and the converse and the inverse in the other.
     Let us analyse the given problem using logic.

     The statement  ‘any card with a letter A on one side always has the number “1” on the other side’ can be rephrased as ‘If letter A appears, then the other side is “1”’.  Let us analyse each position in order.  For (a), since the letter A appears, we definitely need to know what is behind the card to test whether the claim is true.  For (b), note that the claim does not say ‘If the letter is not A, then the other side is not “1”’ (inverse)  nor  ‘If the number is “1”, then the other side must be an A.’ (converse).  It is possible that A is on the other side and we are fine.  But it is also possible to have a non-A with the number  “1”.  The given condition does not prohibit that.  So, if the other side is not an A, it is still OK.  So the other side can be anything, and it does not matter.  For (c) we definitely have to flip to check the other side in case the other side is an A, then the claim would be proven false.  For (d), since the card is not an A, it is irrelevant.  The claim is talking about  A.  It is not talking about B.  We can summarise the analysis in the diagram below:-

Ans:  We need to flip (a)  and  (c)

Suitable Levels
Primary School Olympiad

* syllabuses that involve logic and epistemology

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