Predicate Logic and Popular Culture (Part 30): The Platters


Let R(x) be the proposition “x can make all this the world seem right,” and let B(x)x can make the darkness bright.” Translate the logical statement

R(\hbox{you}) \land B(\hbox{you}) \land \forall x(x \ne \hbox{you} \Longrightarrow \lnot (R(x) \lor B(x))),

where the domain is all people.

The clunky way of translating this into English is, “You can make all this world seem right, you can make the darkness bright, and everyone else can neither make all this world seem right nor make the darkness bright.” Of course, this is the sentiment expressed by the first two lines of this classic by the Platters.

green line

Context: This semester, I taught discrete mathematics for the first time. Part of the discrete mathematics course includes an introduction to predicate and propositional logic for our math majors. As you can probably guess from their names, students tend to think these concepts are dry and uninteresting even though they’re very important for their development as math majors.

In an effort to making these topics more appealing, I spent a few days mining the depths of popular culture in a (likely futile) attempt to make these ideas more interesting to my students. In this series, I’d like to share what I found. Naturally, the sources that I found have varying levels of complexity, which is appropriate for students who are first learning prepositional and predicate logic.

When I actually presented these in class, I either presented the logical statement and had my class guess the statement in actual English, or I gave my students the famous quote and them translate it into predicate logic. However, for the purposes of this series, I’ll just present the statement in predicate logic first.

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