Monday, November 05, 2018

Is Fuzzy Sets Common Knowledge? How about Napier as inventing (or something) logs?

Darling: Bill, help me with this crossword puzzle. 6 letter word that begins with N, clue is log man

Bill: Napier

Darling: Who was that?

Bill: A famous lumberjack

Darling: Give me a serious answer

Bill: Okay. He is said to have invented logarithms. Like most things in math its not quite clear who gets the credit, but he was involved with logarithms early on.

Darling: I said give me a serious answer. That is rather obscure and would not be in a crossword puzzle.

While darling is wrong about the answer being wrong she is right about it being obscure. How would your typical crossword puzzler know the answer? Perhaps Napier appears in a lot of crosswords since it has lots of vowels, so they just word-associate `log man' to `Napier'  But in any case this does seem odd for a crossword puzzle.

In the quiz show Jeopardy, in round two, the following was an $800 question under philosophy (the questions are 400,800,1200,1600,2000, so 800 is supposed to be easy)

In 1965 Lotfi Zadeh introduced this type of set with no clear boundaries leading to the same type of ``logic''

1) I suspect that all my readers know that the correct response is `Fuzzy' (or formally `What is Fuzzy')

2) Why is this in Philosophy? There IS an entry of it in the Stanford Enc of Phil (see here). Some Philosophers work on Logic, but do they work on Fuzzy Logic? The wikipedia page for Fuzzy Logic (see here) has only one mention of phil and its to the Stanford Enc of Phil chapter.

3) (more my point) Is Fuzzy Logic so well known as to be an easy question on Jeop? See next point

4) Can someone get this one right WITHOUT knowing ever having heard of Fuzzy Logic. I suspect yes and, indeed, the contestant DID get it right and I think she had never heard of Fuzzy Logic. While I can't be sure one tell is that when a contestant says `what is fuzzy logic' and it actually sounds like a question, then they are partially guessing.

Anyway, I am surprised that this obscure bit of math made it into an easy question on Jeop. But since the contestant got it right, it was appropriate.


  1. Kitty and the Geese10:55 AM, November 08, 2018

    Fuzzy logic rice cookers though

  2. It's enough that people have all heard the term fuzzy logic plus the implication from fuzzy.

    Some pre-college math books mention Napier allot when they do logs.

  3. It's in Phil because it's the only place it can be seriously studied. No one really cares about just some other distance type function the only interest is the extent to which it can be called logic and it gains that epistemic status