Meta-theory is the term for the theory in which mathematics is formalized (often PA, ZFC or similar theories). Meta-mathematical statements are statements which are evaluated at the level of the meta-theory rather than the theory. This tag is for questions regarding meta-mathematical theories, and ...

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Do metatheoretic results carry between mutually interpretable theories?

If two theories A and B are mutually interpretable, in the sense of there existing a translation procedure from A to B and from B to A, does it follow that whatever metatheoretic results (e.g., ...
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Stats is not maths?

How mainstream is the claim that stats is not maths? And if it's right, how many people don't agree? Given that it's all numbers, taught by maths departments and you get maths credits for it, I ...
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Is there a useful application of Peano arithmetic?

If there is, can someone provide an example of how Peano arithmetic can be used to solve a real-world problem? If not, can someone provide an example of any axiomatic system other than ZFC that can ...
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Clarification of a remark of J. Steel on the independence of Goldbach from ZFC

On page 424 of the following paper: S. Feferman, Harvey M. Friedman, P. Maddy and John R. Steel, ``Does Mathematics Need New Axioms?'' The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. ...
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The mathematics of mathematical knowledge

It's been many years since I did any real mathematics but last night after pondering the process involved in my mathematical journey I had an idea about the abstraction of how mathematical analysis ...
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question about Gödel numbering

I have a question about Gödel numbering, it is trivial but I would like to know how can you know the length of an expression through its Gödel number. ¿? I think you can use a recursive function but ...
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Is mathematics the only language that is not subject of interpretation?

Do you know any other "language" that is used by people except mathematics and is not subject of interpretation? By subject of interpratation I mean e.g. that 1 000 000 people will undertand that 1 + ...
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A Simpler Characterization of Inductive Definitions?

While reading appendix A of John Harrison's "Handbook of Practical Logic and Automated Reasoning" a somewhat advanced theorem is appealed to as a prerequisite for characterizing when an inductive ...
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Meaning and example(s) of Qiaochu's quote.

I happen to come across this page http://math.uchicago.edu/~chonoles/quotations.html which contains some beautiful quotes by various mathematicians and I came across Qiaochu's quote as claimed by the ...
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What branch of mathematics is most needed in the industry or how one can make living with mathematics (apart from teaching)?

If you learn carpentry or programming you have the clear options of becoming a carpenter or programmer. But what if you learn mathematics? I know that there are some financial institutions out there, ...
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Are there formal systems that can not be proved to be complete or incomplete?

I'm reading GEB and was thinking about this. Are there any formal systems where the proof of their completeness/incompleteness is unprovable? This question could go ad infinitum. Could there be any ...
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Separation of mathematics and metamathematics

I recall reading that it's important to separate mathematics and metamathematics. What exactly does this mean, and why is it so? I understand that this question may make no sense without more ...
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Does a “solution map” system like this already exist?

I was doing this simple Calc 1 problem and it took me forever to get it right and it was embarrassing. I could see that the problem was easy but I just couldn't 'see' what I was doing. I couldn't ...
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How to address mistakes in published papers?

I have recently discovered some mistakes in a published maths article. I have contacted the author pointing out politely my concerns, but I got no specific answer, just a "polite" one, that the ...
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Has anyone ever tried to develop a theory based on a negation of a commonly believed conjecture?

I know that plenty of theorems have been published assuming the Riemann hypothesis to be true. I understand that the main goal of such research is to have a theory ready when someone finally proves ...
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If $T$ proves $\operatorname{Con}(ZFC)$, is $T$ at least as strong as set theory?

I am looking for either a proof of counterexample of this: Lemma: Let $\pi$ be a faithful interpretation of $PA$ into $ZFC$, and let $PA'$ be the image of $PA$ under $\pi$. If there is a $T$ with ...
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An “internal” condition on $T$ so that for the standard provability predicate, $T$ proves $\text{Pf}(\underline S)$ implies $T$ proves $S$?

This is probably quite basic, but I'd like to make sure I got this right. Regarding the proof of Goedel's first incompleteness theorem, say that we have $T$ containing $PA$ effectively axiomatizable ...
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Is there a way of defining the notion of a variable mathematically?

I know that the notion of "set" is one that cannot be defined mathematically since it is the fundamental data type that is used to define everything else (and the definition which says that "sets" are ...
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Mathematical structures and signature

From Wikipedia: In mathematics, a structure on a set, or more generally a type, consists of additional mathematical objects that in some manner attach (or relate) to the set, making it easier ...
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Why are all the interesting constants so small?

A quick look at the wikipedia entry on mathematical constants suggests that the most important fundamental constants all live in the immediate neighborhood of the first few positive integers. Is ...
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Geometric proof of existence of irrational numbers.

It is easy, using only straightedge and compass, to construct irrational lengths, is there a way to prove, using only straightedge and compass, that there are constructible lengths which are ...
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Why is it considered unlikely that there could be a contradiction in ZF/ZFC?

EDIT: No answer addresses the "bottleneck" question. It's not surprising to me because the question is vague. But I would like to know whether that is indeed the reason, or perhaps something else. ...
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What are metatheory, metalanguage and meta-…

I have been reading the Wiki articles for metatheory and metalanguage, but not sure if I have understood what they are about. Some accessible examples may help clarify a bit, I guess. Do metatheory ...
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Are “axioms” in topology theory really axioms?

If I understand correctly, axioms are those statements that we assume to be true, instead of proving to be true. I have seen that in topology theory, various axioms of countability and separation ...
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A theorem about inductive inference

In the book 'Introduction of the theory of Statistics' by Mood,Graybill,Boes (third edition)on page 220 (Chapter 6 on Sampling) you can read: 'Inductive inference is well known to be a hazardous ...
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How rare is it that a theorem with published proof turns out to be wrong?

There is a story I read about tiling the plane with convex pentagons. You can read about it in this article on pages 1 and 2. Summary of the story: A guy showed in his doctorate work all classes of ...
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Is there a way to prove that a theorem has no elementary proof? Or to prove that something may have no proof?

Recently I was trying to prove something, more or less elementarily, but eventually started going in circles. My prof said that the proof involves mathematical tools that I've not seen yet, and that ...
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Definition of “non-constructive proof”

I was wondering if it is possible to define exactly what a non-constructive (nc) proof is. I have often seen the concept associated with the use of principles such as the axiom of choice or the law of ...
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Mathematical structures

Preamble: My previous education was focused either on classical analysis (which was given in quite old traditions, I guess) or on applied Mathematics. Since I was feeling lack of knowledge in 'modern' ...
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Truth and undecidability

I believe this is more of a philosophical question. Given a consistent theory T and a statement S independent of T. Can S be true or false in T? (I don't see any contradiction with that) I read that ...
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Proposition vs Theorem

What is the distinction between a proposition and a theorem? How do people decide which of the 2 to use in, say, textbooks? Somehow I think proposition sounds less serious... Thanks.
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Rejecting infinity

I've heard about mathematicians who defend a strictly finite conception of mathematics, with no room for infinity. I wonder, how is it possible for these people to do this? Are there any concepts that ...
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Formalizing metamathematics

I am reading historical/philosophical stuff on the concept of "metamathematics" and am by now quite confused. Several questions emerged, but they are probably somehow confused and interrelated, I ...
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Why bother with Mathematics, if Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is true?

OK, maybe the title is exaggerated, but is it true that the rest of math is just "good enough", or a good approximation of absolute truth - like Newtonian physics compared to general relativity? How ...
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Why some people don't like proofs by contradiction [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are the “proofs by contradiction” weaker than other proofs? I have been active on this site for two months and on a few occasions I noticed that some people ...
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Definition of definition

I was wondering if there is a good way to "define" what definition means exactly in mathematics. Since the answers may be subjective or philosophical, I want to ask only for references on this topic. ...
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Are there any strongly axiomatizable logics that are not compact?

I mean here a logic in the sense of a language and semantics. By strongly axiomatizable I mean strongly sound and strongly complete. So I'm basically asking if there is a particular deductive system ...
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Fiction “Division by Zero” By Ted Chiang

Fiction "Division by Zero" By Ted Chiang I read the fiction story "Division by Zero" By Ted Chiang My interpretation is the character finds a proof that arithmetic is inconsistent. Is there a ...
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Common misconceptions about math

YARFMO (Yet another reposting from Mathoverflow) ;-) The more you know about math the more you find conceptions previously thought correct to be false: 1.) math is not as exact as many believe - in ...
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Making meaning of mathematical “bridges”

I apologize for posting such an untechnical question, but with responses it could surely be posed in a better form. I'm a math noob, but I've seen (as we all have) a few examples of "connections" ...
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What is your method?

Many young, and not so young, mathematicians struggle with how to spend their time. Perhaps this is due to the 90%-10% rule for mathematical insight: 90 pages of work yield only 10 pages of useful ...
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Is It True that We Can Never Be Sure of Validity of a Mathematical Proof?

The reason I ask this is because difficult mathematical proofs are just not plain self-evident. You would need a few years of intensive study before you can get to the point of understanding the ...