Events and Conferences

Events and Conferences: IRMACS SFU Research Masterclass series with Dr. Ray Jennings

September 23, 2015

Date: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Time: 11:30am-12:20pm
Room: IRMACS Presentation Studio, ASB 10900, Burnaby Campus

About the Interviewee: As an undergraduate at Queen's my studies traversed Classics, English Literature, and finally Philosophy as the only department where Logic was offered. I understood virtually nothing else anyone said. My M.A. thesis was about the formalisation of preference. From late September 1965 to early June 1967, I was a doctoral student at the University of London working under Bernard (Later Sir Bernard) Williams, whom I understood very well; he left me to work on my own at understanding natural language quantifiers. I arrived at S.F.U in September 1967 at the age of 25 knowing virtually nothing about Philosophy. Gilbert Ryle, whose journal had published much of my M.A. thesis visited S.F.U. that autumn and invited me to spend a year at Oxford, where I worked up a readable manuscript from my doctoral thesis. I was dismayed to discover that I didn't understand what Oxford philosophers were talking about, and hung out at the Maths Institute, driving from time to time to Cambridge to spend time with Bernard Williams, by then the Provost of Kings. But the more technical aspects of logic had taken hold and I spent a calendar year 1972-73 with the Logic Group at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z.

The 70's and early 80's were years of collaboration with P.K. Schotch at Dalhousie, and during much of that period and later I was spending half of every year in the School of Maths and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. In the early 80's Risto Hilpinen (Turku, Finland) urged me to publish my thesis as an historical curiosity as linguists had developed an interest there. What had begun as a term paper in 1962 yielded The Genealogy Of Disjunction (OUP) in 1994. It soon occurred to me that what I had said about natural connectives represented a small part of a biological story that could be told about the whole of human language. Since then the Biology of Language and The Formal Sciences have taken up all of my research time, and have influenced everything I have taught. 

About the Interviewer: Mr. Joe Thompson is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology at SFU. His goal is to use big data to better understand complex skill learning. As our lives become more computer-mediated, digital records of performance become easier to access. Joe's research uses digital records from a highly competitive and internationally played video game, StarCraft 2. These records are left behind whenever someone plays a game of StarCraft, and contain a timestamped log of every action contained within. This allows us to collect large samples of second by second performance for thousands of individuals in a complex task domain and verify their skill electronically, and to address general questions regarding the nature of skill development in complex domains. Much of the theoretical foundation for Joe's work was formed during his Masters degree in Philosophy, where Joe studied under Ray Jennings.

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