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TC 310 - Modes of Reasoning: Applied Logic and Reasoning through Programming and Data Analysis

A Modes of Reasoning course in the Plan II program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Course Syllabi

Course Description

Computers and digital technology are endemic to everyday life, impacting the ways we communicate, the ways we learn, and the ways we work. These sophisticated machines, and the software that operates them, have radically altered many aspects of life from even just the turn of the century. Yet, at their core, these machines operate using a relatively small vocabulary of basic instructions, from which amazing complexity is produced.

This course introduces logic and reasoning through computer programming, with an examination of the reasoning power and potential of machines themselves. It is meant to form a foundation for continued learning and practical use through your college career and beyond. During this course, you will learn how to think about logic problems, particularly as they apply to our increasingly digital world. Along the way, you will also encounter the basic principles used to provide instructions to a computer, and you will learn to apply them to solve problems, assist your research and help present your findings. You will be able to generalize the concepts from this class to your work as you progress through Plan II (and any other major(s) you might pursue!) and into your post-collegiate life wherever it might take you.

Required and Optional Texts

We will use readings from these four books to motivate our exploration and discussion of applied logic. Please acquire them (legally!). They are all worth owning and can be found for reasonable prices online. Silver, Mitchell and Lubanovic are all available in digital formats as well.

The three books below are optional, but recommended. Later in the course, we will use Pandas for Python-based data analysis, and Python for Data Analysis will help with those details (it is written by the author of Pandas itself!). Hello World provides an accessible presentation of the impact of machine learning across our modern lives. I would love to make it required, but we likely have enough as it is! On Writing Well is an excellent guide to improving your writing, for this course and beyond. I wish I had read it as an undergraduate, and I am offering you the opportunity to benefit from my hindsight. It is not strictly required either, but it is worth owning and re-reading occasionally as you advance in your career. Each of these are also available at reasonable prices online and in digital formats.

Additional Resources

We will use UT's Canvas website for most class-related functions. To accommodate uncertainties and to improve flexibility under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, each lecture will be simulcast on UT Zoom and will be recorded for later (re-)viewing. These will be hosted within the course Canvas site.

We will also use several popular software development technologies to give you experience with them, and to enable you to claim familiarity with them for future opportunities.

Course Requirements

Your grade in this course will be determined by a combination of short programming assignments, a longer course project, and class participation.