Beth Dissertation Prize Call for Nominations

FOLLI is soliciting nominations for the 2009 Beth Dissertation Prize in Logic, Language, and Information.

Since 2002, FoLLI (the European Association for Logic, Language, and Information, www.folli.org) awards the E. W. Beth Dissertation Prize to outstanding dissertations in the fields of Logic, Language, and Information. We invite submissions for the best dissertation which resulted in a Ph.D. degree in the year 2008. The dissertations will be judged on technical depth and strength, originality, and impact made in at least two of the three fields of Logic, Language, and Computation. Inter-disciplinarity is an important feature of the theses competing for the E. W. Beth Dissertation Prize.

Deadline is March 16.

Openproof Day 2009

On March 27, 2009, the people behind Language Proof and Logic will have a little meeting on the various courseware packages they have now and are currently developing:

Openproof day will be a day of events discussing a variety of topics related to the work of the project, including:

* Presentation of existing courseware packages including plans for future improvements,
* Discussion with instructors on the use of existing courseware packages,
* Presentation of courseware packages for future release,
* Presentation of recent research in data mining student work in logic.

Wish I could go, but we’ll have a logic event at Calgary with Aldo Antonelli, Nuel Belnap, and Krister Segerberg that weekend. If anyone wants to report on Openproof Day here, you’re welcome to guest-blog.

Undergrad Logic Summer Schools

Not one but two logic summer schools for undergrads this year:

Carnegie Mellon Summer School in Logic and Formal Epistemology
June 8 to 26, with courses by Steve Awodey (Categories and Structures), Teddy Seidenfeld (Decisions and Games), and Jeremy Avigad (Logic and Formal Verification)
Apply by March 15

UCLA Logic Center 2009 Summer School for Undergraduates
July 13 to 31, with courses by Henry Towsner (First-order logic and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem), Justin Palumbo (Forcing and independence in set theory), and Isaac Goldbring (Non-standard analysis)
Apply by March 30

Both of these are free, and UCLA promises to even pay a stipend!

Canadian PhD Programs in the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet Report

With the kind permission of Brian Leiter, here’s a breakout of the Canadian philosophy departments by specialty according to the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet Report. Major changes over the last (2008-10) edition: The Guelph-Laurier-McMaster program is no longer ranked, and neither is Waterloo. The “local means”, i.e., mean scores from Canadian evaluators, are no longer reported. That’s a bit unfortunate, but it probably makes no difference as far as the rank-ordering goes. The numbers following the specialties are: the peer group the program falls in and the rounded mean score. See the overall rankings and the specialty rankings from the PGR for explanations. Compare specialty rankings for Canadian programs from the 2006-08 and from the 2004-06 report.

(Email or post comment if you find a mistake, please.)

Program Ranked Specialties
University of Toronto
1 (3.6)
Philosophy of Language 5 (21-36 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Mind 3 (9-23 / 3.5)
Metaphysics 5 (18-47 / 3.0)
Philosophical Logic 5 (22-50 / 3.0)
Ethics 3 (6-11 / 4.0)
Metaethics 4 (16-35 / 3.0)
Political Philosophy 3 (10-22/ 3.5)
Philosophy of Law 3 (6-13 / 3.5)
Applied Ethics 2 (3-7 / 4.0)
General Philosophy of Science 3 (12-22 / 3.5)
Philosophy of Biology 2 (3-8 / 4.0)
Philosophy of Cognitive Science 4 (13-32 / 3.0)
Decision, Rational Choice, and Game Theory 4 (10-27 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Mathematics 5 (27-41 / 3.0)
Mathematical Logic 4 (16-31 / 3.5)
Ancient Philosophy 2 (2-4 / 4.5)
Medieval Philosophy 1 (1-4 / 4.5)
Early Modern: 17th Century 3 (10-21 / 3.5)
Early Modern: 18th Century 3 (4-10 / 3.5)
Kant 4 (18-33 / 3.0)
19th Century Continental 3 (11-18 / 3.5)
20th Century Continental 3 (11-31 / 3.0)
American Pragmatism 2 (2-4 / 4.0)
Feminist Philosophy 5 (21-38 / 3.0)
Chinese Philosophy 4 (8-10 / 3.0)
University of Western Ontario
2 (2.7)
Philosophical Logic 5 (22-50 / 3.0)
General Philosophy of Science 2 (2-11 / 4.0)
Philosophy of Physics 2 (2-5 / 4.5)
Philosophy of Social Science 4 (14-32 / 3.0)
Decision, Rational Choice, and Game Theory 4 (10-27 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Mathematics 3 (3-15/ 4.0)
Mathematical Logic 4 (16-31 / 3.5)
Early Modern: 17th Century 3 (10-21 / 3.5)
Early Modern: 18th Century 3 (4-10 / 3.5)
Kant 4 (18-33 / 3.0)
History of Analytic 3 (11-20 / 3.5)
Feminist Philosophy 5 (21-38 / 3.0)
McGill University
3 (2.5)
Ethics 5 (29-53/ 3.0)
Philosophy of Art 4 (18-28 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Mathematics 4 (16-26 / 3.5)
Ancient Philosophy 5 (13-22 / 3.0)
Medieval Philosophy 4 (10-19 / 3.0)
Early Modern: 17th Century 4 (22-44 / 3.0)
Kant 4 (18-33 / 3.0)
History of Analytic 4 (21-34 / 3.0)
Feminist Philosophy 5 (21-38 / 3.0)
University of British
Columbia

4 (2.4)
Philosophy of Mind 4 (24-51 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Art 2 (4-16 / 4.0)
General Philosophy of Science 4 (23-44 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Biology 4 (17-27 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Cognitive Science 4 (13-32 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Mathematics 5 (27-41 / 3.0)
Early Modern: 18th Century 4 (11-33 / 3.0)
History of Analytic 4 (21-34 / 3.0)
University of Alberta
5 (2.1)
Philosophy of Mind 4 (24-51 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Biology 4 (17-27 / 3.0)
Mathematical Logic 4 (16-31 / 3.5)
History of Analytic 4 (21-34 / 3.0)
American Pragmatism 4 (7-14 / 3.0)
Feminist Philosophy 5 (21-38 / 3.0)
Queen’s University
6 (2.0)
Ethics 5 (29-53 / 3.0)
Political Philosophy 3 (10-22/ 3.5)
Applied Ethics 3 (8-23 / 3.5)
Feminist Philosophy 5 (21-38 / 3.0)
University of Calgary
7 (1.9)
Philosophical Logic 5 (22-50 / 3.0)
Philosophy of Action (incl. Free Will) 3 (7-10 / 3.5)
Philosophy of Biology 4 (17-27 / 3.0)
Mathematical Logic 4 (16-31 / 3.5)
American Pragmatism 4 (7-14 / 3.0)
York University
8 (1.8)
American Pragmatism 4 (7-14 / 3.0)
Simon Fraser University
9 (1.7)
Mathematical Logic 5 (32-40 / 3.0)
Early Modern: 17th Century 4 (22-44 / 3.0)
McMaster University
Not ranked
Philosophy of Law 3 (6-13 / 3.5)
History of Analytic 4 (21-34 / 3.0)

Save Canadian Grad Student Funding in Humanties and Social Sciences!

The Conservative government’s budget includes additional funding for Canada’s granting councils to expand their graduate scholarship programs. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada stands to gain an additional $17.5 million, or 500 additional PhD scholarships and 1,000 additional MA scholarships. The catch: SSHRC’s money is earmarked for “business-related degrees”.

If you’re Canadian, please sign the petition against this circulated by Niki Ashton, MP.

There’s also a Facebook group and a call for 2 weeks of action and an article in the Globe and Mail.

Interpretations of Propositional Dynamic Logic

In Krister Segerberg’s modal logic seminar here in Calgary, we were talking about propositional dynamic logic last week. PDL was originally introduced (by Vaughn Pratt in the early 70’s) to reason about programs. In the language, you have propositional variables but then also variables for (indeterministic) programs. Moreover, you have complex terms for programs, e.g., if α and β are programs then α ∪ β is “either do α or do β”, α;β is “first do α then do β”, α* is “do α 0 or more times. If α is a program term and φ is a formula, then [α]φ means “after every execution of α, φ is true”.

The semantics for PDL is your regular Kripke semantics where W is a set of states, V maps propositional variables into ℘(W), and R maps program variables into ℘(W2). The idea is that V(φ) is the set of states where φ holds, and v R(α) w if α takes you from state w to state v (α may be nondeterministic, so it’s a relation, not a function). The definition of ||- is as you’d expect, with w ||- [α]φ if v ||- φ for all v so that w R(α) v. You can put in program constants, e.g., the program 0 that just freezes (R(0) = ∅), the program 1 that does nothing and immediately halts (R(1) = ΔW), and the completely indeterministic program that can take you to any state from any state (R(U) = W2).

Most of the people in the seminar are philosophers, not computer scientists, so we were talking a fair amount of time about how to interpret this semantics not in terms of programs. One way to think of the α’s is as actions types: α is an action type, [α]φ means “φ is true after every action of type α”, and w R(α) v if some action of type α can take you from w to v. For instance, think of W as the set of chess configurations (together with whether it’s black’s or white’s move). Then α might be “move the king”. But this is still pretty close to the programs-changing-state interpretation.

I was thinking of a completely different interpretation, and was wondering if anyone has thought about this interpretation and if it might have any use: In the “intended” interpretation, R(α) tells you which states you can get to from a given state by doing α. But R(α) may be seen as an ordinary modal accessibility relation on W. On this interpretation, PDL turns into a parametrized multi-modal logic with operations on modalities: α is an accessibility relation (e.g., U is the total relation–every world is accessible from every world), [α]φ means “φ is α-necessary), and the operations on programs turn into operations on accessibility relations, e.g., 1 ∪ α is the reflexive closure of α and α* is the transitive closure of α. My hunch is that, maybe by adding some additional operations on the α’s, this could make PDL into a logic of modalities in general.

New Blogs

I’m a bit late with this, but if you haven’t heard, here are a couple of interesting new blogs: