Tagged Questions

For questions on axioms, mathematical statements that are accepted as being true, usually without controversy.

20k views

Can you explain the “Axiom of choice” in simple terms?

As I'm sure many of you do, I read the XKCD webcomic regularly. The most recent one involves a joke about the Axiom of Choice, which I didn't get. I went to Wikipedia to see what the Axiom of ...
15k views

How is a system of axioms different from a system of beliefs?

Other ways to put it: Is there any faith required in the adoption of a system of axioms? How is a given system of axioms accepted or rejected if not based on blind faith?
6k views

Does mathematics require axioms?

I just read this whole article: http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~norman/papers/SetTheory.pdf which is also discussed over here: Infinite sets don't exist!? However, the paragraph which I found most ...
8k views

In what sense are math axioms true?

Say I am explaining to a kid, $A +B$ is the same as $B+A$ for natural numbers. The kid asks: why? Well, it's an axiom. It's called commutativity (which is not even true for most groups). How do I "...
3k views

Where are the axioms?

It is said that our current basis for mathematics are the ZFC-axioms. Question: Where are these axioms in our mathematics? When do we use them? I have now studied math for a year, and have yet to ...
13k views

Has there ever been an application of dividing by zero?

Regarding the expression $a/0$, according to Wikipedia: In ordinary arithmetic, the expression has no meaning, as there is no number which, multiplied by $0$, gives $a$ (assuming $a\not= 0$), and ...
4k views

I am familiar with the mechanism of proof by contradiction: we want to prove $P$, so we assume $¬P$ and prove that this is false; hence $P$ must be true. I have the following devil's advocate ...
3k views

627 views

Foundation of ordering of real numbers

This might be a silly question, but what is the mathematical foundation for the ordering of the real numbers? How do we know that $1<2$ or $300<1000$... Are the real numbers simply defined as ...
712 views

What are the postulates that can be used to derive geometry?

What are the various sets of postulates that can used to derive Euclidean geometry? It might be nice to have several different approaches together for comparison purposes and for ready reference. It ...
704 views

Axiomatic approach to polynomials?

I only know the "constructive" definition of $\mathbb K [x]$, via the space of finite sequences in $\mathbb K$. It essentially tells a polynomial is its coefficients. Is there a way to define ...
882 views

Which statements are equivalent to the parallel postulate?

I would like to have a long-ish list of statements that are equivalent to the parallel postulate. If a line segment intersects two straight lines forming two interior angles on the same side that ...
2k views

Why do we take the axiom of induction for natural numbers (Peano arithmetic)?

More precisely, when we define the set of natural numbers $\mathbb{N}$ using the Peano axioms, we assume the following: $0\in\mathbb{N}$ $\forall n\in\mathbb{N} (S(n)\in\mathbb{N})$ \$\forall n\in\...
308 views

When the mathematical community consider the inclusion of a new axiom?.

At first I was thinking about the axiom of choice, but let's keep it general. What motivates the inclusion of new axioms (or change the ones we already have in an already defined axiomatic theory?. It ...
247 views

The theory in probability

Consider a real-life experiment (perhaps written as a problem in a textbook): A coin is continually tossed until two consecutive heads are observed. Assume that the results of the tosses are mutually ...