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Tjeerd Fokkens doktorand i logik
Photo: Monica Havström

"Faulty reasoning behind most bad things in the world"

"Logic is interesting because on the one hand it is very fundamental: it is a tool to check the validity of almost any argument. On the other hand, it has many useful concrete applications in computer science, AI, and other sciences", says Tjeerd Fokkens, PhD student in Logic at the University of Gothenburg.

Tjeerd Fokkens from The Netherlands came to Gothenburg in 2018 to study the Master's programme in Logic.
”I have always been fascinated by its richness of abstract and original ideas. I chose this city because the programme here is really diverse , with small student groups and a lot of personal attention. With a Physics background it was a very interesting move, especially because in my master thesis I applied logic to quantum mechanics.”

After the two years of studies he applied for a PhD position.

”It was such a difficult decision! It felt like such a big commitment and I didn’t know if I was ‘good enough’. But I figured that I had fun doing logic and that my master programme went by so quickly, so I applied. And of course the recruitment committee is more than capable to decide if you are good enough", says Tjeerd Fokkens.

He is interested in the connection between logic and ‘real’ human reasoning. His thesis will contain both theoretical and experimental work.
”The insights will hopefully find their use in making logic more understandable for people. I’m interested in this because I believe that most, if not all, bad things in the world have their origin in faulty reasoning.”

Tjeerd Fokkens
Photo: Monica Havström

What do your future plans look like, after your doctoral degree?

”It’s quite far into the future to have concrete plans, but I am thinking about becoming a patent attorney. It seems a fascinating profession on the interface between the legal and the engineering world. Logic will probably help me in putting forward convincing lines of legal argument. Another possibility is to stay in academia, which would be great, but perhaps difficult to get into.”

If you are a prospective student, here is Tjeerd's advice to you:
• Logic is sometimes hard and sometimes easy and it is difficult to see when either is the case; be thorough (nearly pedantic!) and ask questions. Also, it’s way more creative than you might think; just come up with your own definitions, conjectures, and theorems.
• At Humanisten there’s a great working environment with very nice colleagues who are working in very diverse fields. This makes it very inspiring and stimulating. There is also plenty of opportunity to contribute to the department on various levels.

Written by Monica Havström

Links to more information

Logic, Master's Programme:  What makes a paradox paradoxical but a mathematical proof acceptable? What does it mean for an argument to be sound or a program to be bug-free? Logic is the study of all these questions, and of argument and reasoning in general. As a graduate of the master’s programme in Logic, you will enjoy diverse opportunities ranging from software engineering to computational linguistics. Throughout two years of rigorous study, you will participate in interdisciplinary collaboration within a dynamic research community. Read more about the programme

World Logic Day, proclaimed by UNESCO, is celebrated on 14 January. Read more at UNESCO's website