Logical success for Perse student in international olympiad

Neelkantha Mukherjee (Lower Sixth) had reason to celebrate after claiming the highest honour in the inaugural International Logic Olympiad (ILO).

He took the Gold Scholar award after being among the top 5% of entrants globally in the first-ever ILO, which tested the reasoning skills of participants through three individual online rounds, followed by a final team challenge.

Having heard about the ILO from chemistry teacher Sophie Jones, Neelkantha was intrigued about the competition.

“I did a little bit of research and found that the discipline of logic, which was completely new to me, was fun and quite addictive to learn,” he said.

“The individual rounds tested candidates on the key ideas of logic, such as the logical consistency and satisfiability of statements and the ability to solve puzzles using logic, as well as the ability to make logical proofs.

“In the final round you had to work in a team of two to four people. It built on the curriculum required for the first three rounds, as well as incorporating new harder puzzles than before. Topped off with the Gold Scholar certificate, it was a very enriching and satisfying experience.”

Neelkantha explained that logic, as a discipline, considers what can be deduced or disproved from a given set of premises.

He said: “The website of the International Logic Olympiad refers to logic as ‘thinking inside the box’, and in a way, that is true. However, I think that phrase does not do the practice of logic justice.

“I would rather say that logic is ‘exploring how big the box is’. Logic builds on current knowledge to see what we can confidently accept and what we can reject. It is the job of scientific exploration to expand our initial stock of knowledge, and the job of logic to explore what the knowledge tells us.”

Having relished taking part, Neelkantha added he would encourage other Perse students to have a go at the ILO.

He said: “Logic may be a new subject to students at The Perse, since we do not encounter it directly in our curriculum, but I found studying it exceptionally rewarding and I cannot recommend this experience strongly enough.”

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