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Free Online Course: Logic and Computational Thinking

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I just released the third installment of my free course “Logic and Computational Thinking” on edx.org published by Microsoft (outline below). This is a fundamentals course focusing on the basics of formal logic and associating that learning with computer science. I focused this course on helping the student develop basic skills in formal logic with the goal of helping him or her become stronger in thinking about how to apply logic to programming and other technical development tasks (such as testing and even circuit board design). The course includes case studies, plenty of assessment questions, and a large body of fellow students to bounce ideas off of.

As a part of the course curriculum, I was able to license content from a recent book by Dr. Paul Herrick called Think with Socrates: An Introduction to Critical Thinking published by Oxford University Press—probably the most preeminent publisher of philosophy right now. The value of using Dr. Herrick’s book is that it provides a practical perspective on using logic in real-world scenarios and with Dr. Herrick’s more than 30 years of teaching logic, the book provides a solid foundation to the rest of the material I developed for the course. Dr. Herrick was kind enough to record a few videos with me so you can learn from the author of that text directly.

In the two quarters that I’ve taught the course, it is has been well received by the almost 12000 students that have enrolled and I’ve had enormous joy putting the material together. If you’ve never had a formal course in logic, this free offering is a great opportunity to learn about this very important topic so check it out!

Paul

Here’s the outline:

1) Module 0: Introduction to the
course

a) What this course is about

i) Analytic logic and its relation to computer
science

ii) ii. Critical thinking as both a lifestyle and aide
to better programming and testing

iii) iii.
Note: This is not a programming course

b) Let’s get started: critical thinking and logical
reasoning

i) What does it mean to think
critically?

ii) An overview of definition, induction, and
deduction

iii) Computer programming and logical
thinking

2) Module 1: Logic and Computer
Science

a) Formal Logic and Computer
Science

i) Introduction and prolegomena

ii) What is a Turing Machine?

iii) Bits
and Bytes

iv) Algorithms

v) Logic and Computer Science

b) Introduction to Formal Logic

i) Introduction to Logic

ii) Arguments

iii) Statements

iv) Propositions

v) Truth Value

vi) Review Questions

c) Symbolizing and Logical
Operators

i) Symbolization

ii) Introduction to Operators

iii) Negation Operator

iv) Conjunction Operator

v) Disjunction Operator

vi) Conditional Operator

vii) Sidebar:
Operator of the largest scope

viii) Truth
Tables

ix) Review Questions

3) Module 2: Deductive and Inductive
Arguments

a) Types of arguments

i) Arguments again

ii) Review Questions

b) Deductive Arguments

i) Valid and invalid arguments

ii) Soundness

iii) Sound deductive arguments

iv) First two deductive syllogisms

v) Sidebar: formal fallacies

vi) Two
more deductive argument forms

vii) Deductive
arguments and computer programs

viii) Review
questions

c) Inductive Arguments

i) Introduction to inductive
arguments

ii) Strong and weak arguments

iii) Cogency

iv) Determining strength

v) Review questions

4) Module 3: Categorical Logic

a) Introduction to Categorical
Logic

i) What is categorical logic?

ii) Aristotle’s theory of forms

iii) Some, all, and none

iv) Quantity and quality

v) Review questions

b) Categorical form and syllogisms

i) Standard categorical form

ii) The categorical syllogism

iii) Forms of categorical syllogisms

iv) Review questions

c) Venn Diagrams

i) Categorical statements and
validity

ii) Venn diagrams: I and O
statements

iii) Venn
diagrams: A and E statements

iv) Using Venn diagrams with categorical
syllogisms

v) Venn diagrams: testing categorical syllogism for
validity

vi) Review questions

5) Module 4: Introduction to Critical
Thinking

a) What is Critical Thinking?

i) Introduction to critical
thinking

ii) Socrates and critical thinking

iii) Socrates’s definition of truth

iv) The
Socratic Method

v) Two Socratic questions

vi) Applying the Socratic Method to computer
science

b) Inductive Reasoning Applied

i) Forms of inductive reasoning

ii) The logic of science

iii) Confirmation and disconfirmation

iv) Mill’s Method

v) Mill’s method: agreement

vi) Mill’s method: difference

vii) Mill’s method:
variation

c) A Case Study

6) Module 5: The Final Exam

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