LIRa session: Peter van Emde Boas and Ghica van Emde Boas–Lubsen

Speakers: Peter van Emde Boas (ILLC, FNWI, UvA (retired)) & Ghica van Emde Boas–Lubsen (independent scholar)

Date and Time: Thursday, December 1st 2022, 16:30-18:00

Venue: ILLC seminar room F1.15 in Science Park 107 and online.

Title: Analyzing the Logic of Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”, Using Mind Maps

Abstract. The title of the talk coincides with the title of our book which appeared recently with Springer in the Logic in Asia series, coauthored by Kaibo Xie and Bonan Zhao, both past students at our institute.
This book ( presents a bi-lingual version of the text of this 2500 years old treatise on Chinese strategy (English, derived from the Giles translation from 1910, and the Chinese source). But the book presents it in an unusual way, using so-called Text Tree Mindmaps. This representation enables us (but also the reader) to obtain direct access to the logic and reasoning patterns of Sun Tzu. Other editions, which are more focused on historical, military, cultural or linguistic aspects (aside of the various books which study Sun Tzu in the context of business strategy) have not aimed at representing and preserving the logical structure of the text. In order to do this we had to modify the Giles translation at several points.
Logic in this context has little to do with what is considered to be logic in the sense studied at ILLC; it refers to the structural patterns which frequently appear in the text. Our book presents a full inventory of the occurrences of these patterns found in the text. Moreover, in the introductory sections of the book we pay attention to connections with logic and game theory; (this was the topic of our initial research for the forthcoming handbook of the history of logical thought in China.)
If time permits we may also illustrates the relevance of the teachings of Sun Tzu for understanding the developments of warfare in our era. We can illustrate this by the examples from the battle at Gettysburg during the American Civil War in 1863, or on the current War in Ukraine.

Slides from this talk: Download PDF