Twelve years ago, when I was an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, I was very fortunate to take the Fuzzy Logic course taught by the legendary Professor Zadeh, who invented the field of Fuzzy Logic.
The class not only introduced a very exciting new field to me, but also taught me to look at our world in a different way.
What’s fuzzy logic? When my friends asked me this question, I give the following example (my example is a little bit simplistic, but I think it will give you the general idea):
- Let’s say that I just washed an apple, and I was about to eat it. Was my apple an apple? Of course, it’s 100% an apple, fresh, just washed, looking tasty.
- I took one bite of my apple. Was the apple still an apple? Well, not exactly. Instead of being 100% apple, it’s about 90% since I took a bite.
- I took another bite of my apple. Was the apple still an apple? Instead of being 100% apple, it’s about 85% since I took another bite.
- I’d continue to eat my apple. And my apple’s degree of "apple-ness" would continue to decrease.
The key thing here is that I’m not looking at things in term of black and white, yes or no, apple or not apple — I’m looking at things in term of degrees.
This is a very powerful way of thinking.
Just look at our world — republican or democrat, love or hate, religious or atheist, big government or small government, efficient market or not — sometimes we seems to wear binary lens to look at things. However, in a lot of cases, we’re much better off to think in term of degrees, instead of black and white. The world is not as extreme as it appears to be. There could be middle ground or fuzziness, where you will find insights and keys to solve your problems.
If you’re interested in learning more about Fuzzy Logic (which I think everybody should), I recommend you to read Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic by Bart Kosko, a world renown researcher and popularizer of fuzzy logic.
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