Predicate Logic and Popular Culture (Part 83): The Sound of Music

Let be the proposition “ comes from ,” let be the proposition “ is in my youth or childhood,” let be the proposition “I did at time ,” and let be the proposition “ is good.” Translate the logical statement

.

The straightforward English translation is, “If it’s false that something can come from nothing, then there exists something good that I did in my youth or childhood.” More poetically, it’s the chorus of the great song that Captain Von Trapp and Maria sang before they got married in The Sound of Music.

See also the version with Carrie Underwood from the NBC live special:

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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