Machine Learning Techniques Help Philosopher Build an App for Logic Education

Lok Chan

Philosophy doctoral student Lok Chan is writing a dissertation on learning and testing through the lenses of philosophy and statistics. To develop the skills he needed to produce a web-based application for logic education, he sought training in machine learning.

Mentored by Kevin Hoover, Chan was among 18 Duke University students who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) in 2017-2018 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies for training beyond their core disciplines. He provided an update on his GSTEG experience.

I received the Graduate Training Enhancement Grant to enroll in Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree Program over the summer of 2017.  What I learned has had a tremendous impact on both my interest as a researcher and as an educator.

This program provides practice-oriented training in various machine learning techniques, such as supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and convolutional neural networks. This practical experience allows me to learn about scientific reasoning in ways not possible through my traditional philosophical training.

Using these techniques, I have made substantial improvement to the logic education application I have previously developed. Initially, my application could only generate logic problems in a purely random manner. With machine learning techniques, however, I have devised a model in which a student’s response could be used as a basis for generating a problem that addresses her particular strengths and weaknesses.

Chan's logic app


This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages doctoral and master’s students to step away from their core research and training to acquire skills, knowledge, or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

  • Read other GSTEG updates from the 2017-18 grantees.
  • See who received GSTEG grants for 2018-19.