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To Mock a Mockingbird: and Other Logic Puzzles [Paperback]

Raymond Smullyan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Nov 2000
In this entertaining and challenging collection of logic puzzles, Raymond Smullyan — author of Forever Undecided — continues to delight and astonish us with his gift for making available, in the thoroughly pleasurable form of puzzles, some of the most important mathematical thinking of our time.

In the first part of the book, he transports us once again to that wonderful realm where knights, knaves, twin sisters, quadruplet brothers, gods, demons, and mortals either always tell the truth or always lie, and where truth-seekers are set a variety of fascinating problems. The section culminates in an enchanting and profound metapuzzle in which Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard gets involved in a search for the Fountain of Youth on the Island of Knights and Knaves.

In the second part of To Mock a Mockingbird, we accompany the Inspector on a summer-long adventure into the field of combinatory logic (a branch of logic that plays an important role in computer science and artificial intelligence). His adventure, which includes enchanted forests, talking birds, bird sociologists, and a classic quest, provides for us along the way the pleasure of solving puzzles of increasing complexity until we reach the Master Forest and — thanks to Godel's famous theorem — the final revelation.

Frequently Bought Together

To Mock a Mockingbird: and Other Logic Puzzles + What is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles (Dover Recreational Math) + The Lady or the Tiger?: And Other Logic Puzzles (Dover Recreational Math)
Price For All Three: £32.30

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (30 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801425
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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In a certain flower garden, each flower was either red, yellow, or blue, and all three colors were represented. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another great puzzle book from Smullyan 3 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you are new to Smullyan and his puzzles this book is not a bad place to start from. You will find a great deal of logic problems regarding truth-tellers and liars, such as: "Person A says that at least one of A and B is a liar (never tells the truth). Is A a liar? And what about B?". This is the simplest type of puzzle; many are much more challenging.
If you already read some of Smullyan's books, be assured that this one has the same appeal. Some of the knight-knaves puzzles are similar to the ones in "What is the name of this book?" and "Alice in puzzle-land" but there are important variations such as day-knights and night-knights and there is also some challenging metapuzzle.
The second half of the book leaves the island of knights and knaves to enter an enchanted forest of talking birds. Though I found this part somewhat difficult to get in, once you work carefully your way through the first chapter you will find it fascinating. At the end you will have solved a lot of interesting problems and explored a subject called combinatory logic which has important applications in modern logic. As Smullyan puts it, "what could be better for a puzzle book?"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very tough 5 Jan 2008
By Thomas
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely, and if you like Smullyan's style, then you will too. However, I found some parts of it more difficult than other books I own by the same author. Perhaps the novice reader should choose a different book?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good for squeezing your brain 10 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an underappreciated book. The birds puzzles are a clever and gentle introduction to combinatorics. Sometimes funny and with clever dialogues, it is a really useful book that can actually be used for formal logic classes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and Simple introduction to functional programming. 30 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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 [...]
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To Mock a Mockingbird 22 Jun 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome book 20 Mar 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to combinatory logic I can think of. 24 Mar 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible adventure in logic 3 Jan 2011
By T. A. Baker - Published on Amazon.com
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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