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.
Sweet and Simple introduction to functional programming.
By A Customer - May 30, 2004
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... read more
To Mock a Mockingbird
By A Customer - June 22, 2004
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!
An awesome book
By A Customer - March 19, 2002
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.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. Twain is most noted for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ...