But at least at a formal level, logic can be viewed simply as a theory of functions that take on two possible values given variables with two possible values. And as we discussed on page 616, any such function can be represented as a combination of And, Or and Not.
But the table below demonstrates that as soon as one goes beyond the familiar traditions of language and mathematics there are other operators that can also just as well be used as primitives. And indeed it has been known since before 1900 that both Nand and Nor on their own work—a fact I already used on pages 617 and 775.
Functions that can be used to formulate logic. In each case the minimal combinations of primitive functions necessary to reproduce each of the 16 logical functions of two arguments is given. From these any possible logical function with any number of arguments can be obtained. Most textbook treatments of logic use And, Or, and Not as primitive functions. Nand and Nor are the only primitive functions that work on their own.