Beginning Logic class offers unique approach to math
Katherine Lieberth | Monday, November 13, 2023
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:30am to 12:30 p.m., students gather in Hayes-Healy Hall for “Beginning Logic,” a math class where you’re more likely to find proofs of language on the chalkboard than you are to find problems with numbers.
David Meretzky, a fifth-year graduate student studying logic in the mathematics department, is in his first semester teaching the course.
“Writing proofs is something that mathematicians do in their day-to-day and it’s a powerful way of working and thinking,” Meretzky said. “It’s good for your mind and it will make you a more rigorous thinker.”
Students are graded based on three midterm exams, a final and homework. According to the syllabus, the course covers propositional logic, proofs and rules of inference, truth tables, soundness and completeness and predicate logic. Each professor or graduate student who teaches Beginning Logic has some flexibility in the topics they choose to emphasize, and more advanced topics are introduced when time permits.
“A heavy emphasis of the class as it is set up right now is translating natural language or human language arguments into these formal languages, and then doing a kind of formal analysis of the argument and having that kind of give you information about the original argument,” Meretzky said.
This semester, students analyzed passages from “Much Ado about Nothing” and Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech in “Julius Caesar.”
Beginning Logic fulfills the “quantitative reasoning” requirement in the College of Arts and Letters. According to Hannah Thurow, a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and global affairs, the class is more than just an opportunity to fulfill a requirement.
“It’s a great course for people who have the intentions of going to law school … It’s great prep work for the logic portion of the LSAT and it really helps you prepare in that aspect for law,” Thurow emphasized.
Thurow took Beginning Logic in the first semester of her freshman year and has been a tutor and grader for the past three years. Her favorite part of taking the class was learning to think more outside the box.
“It teaches you a new way of thinking in terms of mathematics, which I really enjoyed,” she said.
According to Thurow, students who take Beginning Logic come from a wide variety of majors within the College of Arts and Letters and Business. She enjoys working with students in the course to help them understand complicated problems and prepare for the LSAT.
Ben Rohr, a freshman with a major in Film, Television and Theater, said he decided to take Beginning Logic after his brother, a junior, had a good experience in the class as a freshman. He would recommend the class for people who don’t want to take calculus-based math.
“I’ve heard that this class helps with LSAT problems and the truth tables,” said Angela Moreno, a first year student majoring in political science who wants to go to law school. So far, she has had a good experience in the course.
Jack Thomas, a freshman majoring in the program of liberal studies, said he thinks Beginning Logic “connects a lot to other subjects, such as philosophy and computer science.” He said that it’s most similar to a geometry class “because it’s very proof based on sort of your abstract thinking.”
After taking the course, students can choose to continue on to Intermediate Logic.
“This class has connections to deeper parts of mathematical logic and this is a nice introduction to those as well,” Meretzky said. “Notre Dame is currently and historically a strong school for mathematical logic … so this is a really good place to study logic and the faculty here are very good.”