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Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic Paperback – October 10, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0006547136 ISBN-10: 0006547133

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kosko , an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, makes a provocative new scientific paradigm intelligible to the general reader. Fuzzy logic posits a world in which absolutes, such as those implied in the words "true" and "false , " are less important and interesting than the matters of degree between them. "Fuzziness is grayness," and "the truth lies in the middle," according to Kosko, one of the pioneers of fuzzy logic theory, which he persuasively presents as a world view rooted more in Buddhist and Taoist assumptions than in the dichotomous Aristotelian tradition. He proposes FATs (Fuzzy Approximation Theorems) for the existence (and non-existence, as fuzziness demands) of God and as models of the abortion debate. In consumer terms, fuzzy logic is behind such "smart" machines as air conditioners and microwave ovens that gauge their operation to the conditions and demands of a given moment's task. Writing with style and risk, Kosko challenges assumptions, not about the existence of scientific authority, but about its nature.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Aristotle is out and Buddha is in; the law of the excluded middle (either A or not-A) is repealed, and A and not-A together replaces it. No more black and white, right and wrong, true or false. In their place come shades of gray, more or less, maybe so, maybe not. Why? Because the new world of fuzzy logic more closely mirrors reality, has a rigor all its own, and is paying off in the marketplace. Kosko (Electrical Engineering/USC) has been called the ``St. Paul'' of fuzziness, and for good reason: Not only has he contributed major theories and proofs in the development of fuzzy logic, but he's also been a major proselytizer and gadfly, organizing conferences and frequently going on the road (which usually leads to Japan). He's also young...which may account for the passion and posturing that color the text. Indeed, until Kosko gets down to chapter and verse on what FL is and how it works, reader will be put off by the constant put-down of Western logic and philosophy and opposing schools of computer science. But when Kosko is good, he's very, very good. One comes away from his text with a real understanding of the concepts of fuzzy sets, rules, and systems, and of how they're applied to make ``smart'' machines, devices, trains, and planes. He's also good in extending these ideas to neural nets in hypothesizing how brains change, learn, get smart. But toward the end, he plunges big time into metaphysical questions about life, death, cosmology, God (seen as the math- maker). Curious about the future, Kosko says that he'll opt for freezing at death. Still, for all the self-indulgence, probably the best primer around for learning what FL is all about, certainly cuts above Daniel McNeill and Paul Freiberger's Fuzzy Logic (p. 45). -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo (October 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006547133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006547136
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,920,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

For non-mathematicians this books fails as it is slightly too technical.
Reading this book was, at best, a complete waste of my time, and at worst, a very frustrating and painful experience.
scott mathews
The author doesn't seem to realize, you can't use formal logic (binary or fuzzy) to analyze the world.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John Rolston on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kosko struggles to articulate the upcoming paradigm shift from Aristotelian logic to multivalent Fuzzy Logic in the world of commercial technology. He does a good job of explaining the concepts behind the "new" field of fuzzy thinking, but has a hard time expressing the mathematics of it. To give him credit, though, he had to write a book understandable by the lay, and therefore couldn't get too in depth with his equations. But if you have any background in calculus, you'll have no trouble learning from the footnotes.
Aside from the introduction to fuzzy logic, Kosko dips into his personal life to talk about his contributions to the field. I found his digressions extremely interesting and his views enlightening. It's important to take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt, however (he likes to wax philosophical perhaps more than is appropriate), but he is an amiable character nonetheless.
Overall, this is a good read. It's informative not only scientifically, but philosophically as well. Kosko's style is engaging, although too heroic in some passages, and thorough. Because of its controversial nature, some readers may find it offensive. But if you don't mind entertaining alternative opinions and don't mind suspending tendencies for dismissing foreign ideas (which a lot of the people who gave this book bad reviews couldn't apparently handle), you'll enjoy this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "smokey_joe" on October 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Let me start with a little context. I'm a scientist/engineer, and I enjoy reading these popular science books as a primer to fields I'm not well versed in, but would like to know more about. For me, this book was less about philosophy and more about the history and underpinnings of fuzzy logic. From my viewpoint, this book fulfilled my objective. I now feel I have a sufficient introduction that I can dig deeper into this interesting topic. Will I? Absolutely. I believe there is much I can do with fuzzy logic in my day-to-day research, and I'm grateful to the author for making me aware of it.
What about the philosophical aspects of the book? The author clearly feels that western culture is hostile to the notion of fuzzy logic. I'll extend on that a little further. I think western science is hostile to new ideas in general, not just fuzzy logic. But, I will agree that it is for the same reason he cites. Western science tends to see every new idea as true or false. Since new ideas tend to contradict old ideas which have achieved the status of true, then new ideas by their very nature are instantly regarded as false. Only with the passage of much time or with overwhelming evidence does an old paradigm die. Eastern culture, by contrast, is not so quick to reject a new idea since "shades of gray" is woven into the culture. No wonder, then, that fuzzy logic has emerged in the east in real products while we still debate whether fuzzy logic exists.
Who should read this book? Definitely this is worthwhile for scientists and engineers of all stripes, but should be considered a must read for those involved in system engineering. Laypersons with a scientific interest will find this book to be accessible and will be rewarded for reading it.
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69 of 86 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Buddhist math? C'mon.

First, let me say that fuzzy logic and fuzzy arithmetic are great tools. They're valued parts of the 'soft logic' kit that includes probability, interval arithmetic, Bayesian and Markov networks, and lots of other good stuff. Fuzziness involves many of the formal techniques used in probability and elsewhere, and gives a useful, alternative view of the systems it addresses.

The basic fuzzy idea is that most descriptions involve shades of gray, that few systems really match the black/white, on/off, either/or duality of standard formal logic. That's fine, I can get along with that quite well.

My problem, though, is that Kosko presents the fuzzy world-view vs. the traditional or "scientific" in exactly the black and white terms that he rejects. He also argues that fuzziness describes the world more effectively than "scientific" terms, that the rules of arithmetic, probability, and calculus are just games. They are played for their internal consistency, not because differentiation or factorials occur in nature.

That's true, and as a heavy math user I know enough to distinguish my models from reality. Two facts remain, though. First, the models very often do describe reality in ways that can be checked easily enough: the bridge doesn't fall down and the TV receives its signal. Both happen because the bad old exact arithmetic has some kind of correspondence (no, I don't know what) to the real world, giving real ability to predict real results. Second, fuzzy logic and fuzzy arithmetic are themselves mathematical formalisms, games like all the others. Once you get past the gee-whiz stage, there is mathematical content as rigorous as in any other field of study.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By James Daniel on October 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to a good popularization of Fuzzy Logic theory, but I am quite disappointed.
This is not a science book, nor is it a popularization of science. What science it does contain is unclear, is not presented in laymen's terms, and in some cases is factually wrong. The author asserts, pg. 107, that E = mc^2 is an approximation of a nonlinear equation, and attempts to prove it by pointing out where Einstein makes an approximation in his 1905 paper. It turns out that he was taking the Newtonian limit of an equation, and the limit implies the famous E=mc^2, but the E=mc^2 is not itself an approximation. This isn't a particularly serious error, and in fact he would have been technically correct until he said that the famous equation itself was an approximation. It is a sign of Kosko's attitude when he asserts that "[e]ven many physicists forget" that Einstein did this.
I do not doubt that fuzzy logic is useful, but this is not a useful primer from which to learn first principles. Rather it is a diatribe against "Aristotalean logic". Einstein's work, to use him as an example again, was impressive because it was it turned out to be correct to a high degree of precision, not because Newton's work was wrong. Einstein's attitude towards his work was "Hey look at what I found!" not "Can you believe this Newton guy? He got it all wrong!"
The author tries to unite philosophy and science and fuzzy logic and politics into one book, and fails utterly. His presentation of each of these topics detracts from the others. Douglas R.
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