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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shawn Bayern's Conveyance Interpreter

My FSU colleague, the incomparable Shawn Bayern, is generously circulating an instructional tool for those who teach property.  Here's how wunderprawf Al Brophy describes and reacts to this new teaching tool over at the Property Prof Blog.

I've been worried for some time about computers taking over; here's more evidence of it....

Shawn Bayern of Florida State University has a web program that is a "conveyance interpreter" that diagrams grants of estates ("To A for life, but if he becomes a lawyer, then to B for 21 years" and so on). The program uses a "context-free grammar" to understand the language of the conveyance, and then it generates an image that maps out the resulting property interests. Shawn borrowed the style of the images from diagrams that Andrea Peterson, his Property professor at Berkeley, used in class. In fact, Shawn wrote it when he was a property student.


DrawProfPetersonDiagramI've been playing with it some this morning --- and I have to report that it's pretty darn cool. Just in time for the start of the new year. This could be the new teaching tool of the season! Hours and hours of fun just waiting you and your students.

For instance, [above you can see] the diagram Shawn's program drew for the grant "to A for life, then to B and her heirs if B survives A."  The "conveyance interpreter" is available here.

The fact that we're one step closer to our jobs being taken over by computers is a story for another time.

Now, Shawn, where's the program to evaluate the rule against perpetuities?

 

 

Posted by Dan Markel on August 29, 2010 at 04:20 PM in Property, Teaching Law | Permalink

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when Shawn was a student at Boalt, he created a program so students could how many students had already enrolled in each class section for the next semester.

Posted by: dude | Aug 29, 2010 8:50:20 PM

I'm a big fan of Shawn's work, and not surprised he came up with this ingenious tool!

Posted by: Frank Pasquale | Aug 29, 2010 10:08:51 PM

This is very sophisticated. I had imagined that it would be simple but it is able to compute quite a lot of grants.

Posted by: professor | Aug 30, 2010 10:45:01 AM

This is the coolest thing I have seen in quite some time. It's useful in itself, but it also points the way to what could be a very promising research agenda.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Aug 30, 2010 11:04:41 AM

Very clever, but even better not teach to future interests. If students won't use it and it's not fun to teach, why is anyone still teaching it?

Posted by: anon | Sep 1, 2010 3:47:16 PM

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