Speaker: Rick Hehner
From Boolean Algebra to Unified Algebra
Link to webcast of lecture
Boolean algebra is simpler than number algebra, with applications in programming, circuit design, law, specifications, mathematical proof, and reasoning in any domain. So why is number algebra taught in primary school and used routinely by scientists, engineers, economists, and the general public, while boolean algebra is not taught until university, and not routinely used by anyone? A large part of the answer may be in the terminology and symbols used, and in the explanations of boolean algebra found in textbooks. This paper points out some of the problems delaying the acceptance and use of boolean algebra, and suggests some solutions.
This paper was prepared for the 150th anniversary of George Boole's amazing paper that introduced boolean algebra to the world, and published in the Mathematical Intelligencer v.26 n.2 p.3-19, 2004. The mathematical details were published in the International Journal of Mathematical Sciences v.1 n.1 p.20-37, 2007. It was an invited talk at Passau, Alberta, York (UK), Newcastle, Lisbon, and most recently at St.Mary's University, Halifax, 2010. "Out with a Howl" Series Background, as described by Rick Hehner:
I am retiring, but not quietly. I have given about 160 invited talks, sometimes in a Distinguished Lecturer Series, at many places around the world. But I rarely speak here at my own university (just the occasional practice talk to my own group). So I have decided to give four talks here on my way out. They take place Thursday to Tuesday, June 7 to 12, at 2pm, in BA1240. Everyone is welcome, and no-one is obliged to come. I love to give talks; all I need is one interested listener. All the talks are of general computer science interest, not specialized to my research area (only one is about formal methods, and it's a tutorial introduction). The talks are all reasonably current, and they are arranged in chronological order (oldest to newest). If you can come to only one, make it be the last one. Biography:Rick Hehner received his first degree in Mathematics and Physics from Carleton University in 1969, and his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toronto in 1974. He then joined the faculty, becoming a full professor in 1983, and Bell University Chair in Software Engineering in 2001.
His research has been mainly on the subject of formal programming methods, and the mathematics of program construction in the areas of programming methodology and software engineering. He is the first winner of the annual Computer Science undergraduate teaching award, and he has been a Visiting Scientist at Xerox Research Center, Palo Alto, a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University, a Visiting Researcher at the University of Texas, Austin, Professeur Invité at the Université de Grenoble, a Visiting Professor at UBC, Vancouver, and at the University of Southampton.
Rick has written two books (the Logic of Programming, Prentice-Hall, 1984, and a Practical Theory of Programming, first edition Springer-Verlag 1993, current edition online) and many journal and conference papers. He has given approximately 160 invited lectures at institutions around the world, and he has taught short courses in Marktoberdorf Germany, Macau China, Turku Finland, and Tandil Argentina.
This June, Rick is retiring from the Department of Computer Science after 43 years at the University of Toronto, as both a PhD student and a faculty member.