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To Mock a Mockingbird: And Other Logic Puzzles Paperback – November 9, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 9, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801425
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Raymond Smullyan, a well-known mathematician and logician and the author of many books, is Oscar Ewing Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University and Professor Emeritus of the City University of New York-Lehman College and Graduate Center.

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Customer Reviews

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I don't think I'm alone in saying that I have enough frustration in my life.
Badges? ... (see Blazing Saddles)
Learning either combinatory logic or lambda calculus is a venture for only those whose mind is best suited to mathematics, logic, or computer science.
T. A. Baker
If you are interested in the subject, and/or if you like writing mathematical proofs, you'll probably enjoy this book too.
Michael Vanier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book by Smullyan is different from his other puzzle books,
in that it is fully about puzzles from functional programming.
The birds are functors that compute on strings.
Self reference comes into play when the Mockingbird
shows you what a fixpoint computation is.
The phethora of birds may confuse you if you try to read it
fast or skip solving the puzzles. The problems are not
easy, it took the mighty mathematical titans - Turing and Godel
to provide the initial solutions. If you are stuck,
Smullyan provides all the solutions at the chapter end.
It requires concentration and remembering previous tricks,
something akin to solving Rubik's cube without a solution guide.
You will love it if you love chess problems.
In the end you will come out with a deep sense of
accomplishment having understood the proof of Godel's
incompleteness theorems, Combinatorial Logic, and Functional
programming, when all you thought you were doing was figuring
out puzzles of birds.
Hard to find book, but its worth its weight in gold.
The other book to complement this is "Forever Undecided,
a puzzle guide to Godel" by Smullyan, it uses Modal logic
puzzles to motivate you, but the end result is the same.
Remember Smullyan is Professor of mathematics and logic,
he is classy and witty like Knuth. Don't confuse him
with the popular mathematical journalists.
- Mosh [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After a disconnected array of logic puzzles at the beginning, the author embarks on an introductory course to combinatory logic. Given a little application (if you're like me you will need a pen and paper), you can get to grips with some of the fundamentals of mathematical logic with relatively little background. This is pretty astonishing.
The worst feature of the book is the fact that only one (unintuitive) model for the theory is provided. Discussion of the significance of the results obtained is not particularly useful - probably anyone smart enough to solve the puzzles will not find anything there that they couldn't figure out for themselves.
But nevermind: if you want a good introductory course in combinatory logic (or you want to understand (a version of) Godel's 1st incompleteness theorem), then I would recommend this book for you!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A reviewer of one of Smullyan's other works called him "a national treasure" and I have to agree. To Mock a Mockingbird is a fantastic book -- whether you're looking for fun logic puzzles or a lighter look at formal logic theory. This book is better than any college textbook, and right up there with any of Martin Gardner's best works. Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Various sets of increasingly sophisticated puzzles & scenarios in a combinatory forest where all the birds are combinators. Great way to understand interesting results from combinatory logic without cumbersome definitions. Mockingbirds are M, which is also YI, Curry bird's response to Identity bird... hilarious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Baker on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Raymond Smullyan is a master of blending wondrous tales of adventure seamlessly with complex topics such as functional, abstract, and symbolic logic, as well as deductive games and exercises. This book is actually one of the best explorations of combinatory logic I have ever encountered. Disguised cleverly by the analogy of birds singing, you will be working through complex mathematical proofs in no time, without even realizing that you're doing it! You'll think it's all just bluebirds and warblers calling to each other!

Combinatory logic is one of the most obscure and fascinating branches of logic I have ever encountered. Its mathematical counterpart (largely the same thing) is known as lambda calculus, and it in fact is used extensively in artificial intelligence and programming language design. The Lisp programming language is actually based on lambda calculus. Learning either combinatory logic or lambda calculus is a venture for only those whose mind is best suited to mathematics, logic, or computer science. If you are someone interested in all three (like myself) then this is the book for you!

Overall, highly recommended for nerdy types, or anyone who likes puzzles.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I know about R. Smullyan since the publication of his book "Formal Systems" which I read in the seventies and which is a jewel in the subject. To Mock a Mockingbird is the best introduction to combinatory logic I know and moreover a phantastic introduction to functionnal programming as well. Given the importance of functional programming in such software as the Coq proof assistant (this is the software in which Georges Gonthier and Benjamin Werner formally proved the four color problem, and the language of this assistant, Gallina is a typed functional programming language), combinatory logic is gaining in importance itself. Smullyan with this book opens a door to a true and deep understanding of what is going on, and moreover, in quite entertaining manner!
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