In the past few months, I have been studying for the LSAT exam. Yes, I am contemplating Law School. Law school will be a topic for another day. However, I came across a few points that are extremely interesting and could spark discussion in the computer science field. In the field of computer science, we have a thing called Loops in our coding languages. One of the most common loops is called an IF-THEN loops, which is one of many conditional phrases. However, the LSAT has made me realized that there is more to the IF-THEN conditional statements in the LSAT, and here is why (Teti et al., 2013):
- If X then Y (Simple IF-THEN loop)
- If not Y then not X (This is the contra-positive of 1)
- X If and only if Y means X and Y
- X Unless Y means if not X then Y
where X here is the sufficient variable whereas Y is the necessary variable. The phrase “If” can be substituted for “All,” “Any,” “Every,” and “When” (Teti et al., 2013). Whereas the phrase for “then” can be substituted for the phrase “only,” or “only if.” Remember, that a conditional phrase like the ones above can introduce a relationship between the variables, but it doesn’t establish anything concrete. A sufficient variable (X) is enough to guarantee Y, but Y is not enough on its own to guarantee X.
Subsequently, with any Loop, we have to look at conjunctive “and” or disjunctive “or” statements.
- Both X and Y = X + Y
- Either X or Y = X or Y
- Not both X or Y = X or Y
- Neither X or Y = X + Y
We should note that an “or” statement can also allow for the possibility of both (Teti et al., 2013). Additionally, the LSAT adds some nuance to the conditional phrase by adding an “EXCEPT” clause. For instance (Teti et al. 2013):
- Must be true EXCEPT = Could be false
- Could be true EXCEPT = Must be false
- Could be false EXCEPT = Must be true
- Must be false EXCEPT = Could be true
The LSAT views these loops, conjunctive, disjunctive, and conditional phrases a bit more nuance than computer scientists do and maybe we can combine some of this nuance in future coding to get more nuance code and results.
Though some people may state that this whole post is overkill and why do we have to look into such nuance. Each one of the above bullets is necessary and has value. It has been created in the lexicon for a particular reason. We can easily decompose each of these, and then map these out in simpler terms with a programming language. However, to sufficiently capture these nuance characteristics of these conditional phrases, we can create really nasty pieces of convoluted code.
- Teti, T., Teti, J., and Riley, M. (2013). The Blueprint for LSAT Logic Games. Blueprint LSAT Preparation.