Saturday, April 07, 2007

Brilliant editorial move

The second edition of Arthur Prior's Papers on Time and Tense features what is possibly the best editorial decision I've seen in a while. The editors decided that since infix (Russellian, in their terminology) notation won out, they would change all of Prior's formulas from their original Polish notation to infix notation. Polish notation is alright to read once you get used to it, but parentheses does make parsing easier. And, Polish notation is a huge pain when the formulas stretch half the width of the page, as they do for some of the modal axioms. Also, I can't handle proofs of any complexity in Polish notation. Good call editors!


Richard Zach said...

In my day, we did proofs in Polish notation uphill in the snow, and we liked it!

Shawn said...

Uphill and in the snow huh? At least you had something to distract you from the fact that it was Polish notation.

I've been told that people usually prefer the first notation that they learn. if it was the first notation I learned, then I'd probably be at home in it. But, I don't have overly much reason to get that comfortable with it. Here's a really petty reason: the modus ponens rule for it looks weird, from A and CAB infer B. CCpCqrCCpqCpr. Yuck.

Richard Zach said...

I was kidding of course. I did do my first formal proofs in Hilbert-type systems, though. That taught me the (pedagogical) value of natural deduction and sequent calculus.