Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Logic diagrams: a visual tool with untapped potential

Logic diagrams are employed in electrical engineering for visualizing switching circuits. However, their utility and applicability extend far beyond the technical sciences. Here, we argue that natural and social scientists alike should consider using logic diagrams in their research. For certain analytical problems, logic diagrams are a perfect fit.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Logic diagrams relate a set of inputs to a set of outputs through a switching circuit.


  1. Wang, B. & Buck, M. Customizing cell signaling using engineered genetic logic circuits. Trends Microbiol. 20, 376–384 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Goodwin, G. P. & Johnson-Laird, P. N. The acquisition of Boolean concepts. Trends Cogn. Sci. 17, 128–133 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Thiem, A., Mkrtchyan, L., Haesebrouck, T. & Sanchez, D. Algorithmic bias in social research: a meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 15, e0233625 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Rothman, K. J. Causes. Am. J. Epidemiol. 104, 587–592 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Pearl, J. Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference 2nd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

  6. Mackie, J. L. Causes and conditions. Am. Philos. Q. 2, 245–264 (1965).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Sawcer, S., Franklin, R. J. M. & Ban, M. Multiple sclerosis genetics. Lancet Neurol. 13, 700–709 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Suls, J. & Green, P. A. Multimorbidity in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Health Psychol. 38, 769–771 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Thiem, A., Mkrtchyan, L. & Sebechlebská, Z. Combinational Regularity Analysis (CORA) — a new method for uncovering complex causation in medical and health research. BMC Med. Res. Methodol. 22, 333 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Alrik Thiem, Zuzana Sebechlebská or Lusine Mkrtchyan.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Thiem, A., Sebechlebská, Z. & Mkrtchyan, L. Logic diagrams: a visual tool with untapped potential. Nat Rev Methods Primers 3, 21 (2023).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing: Cancer

Sign up for the Nature Briefing: Cancer newsletter — what matters in cancer research, free to your inbox weekly.

Get what matters in cancer research, free to your inbox weekly. Sign up for Nature Briefing: Cancer