Questions involving philosophy of mathematics. Please consider if Philosophy Stack Exchange is a better site to post your question.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

7
votes
4answers
800 views

As of August 2015, is the “set” of all gold medalists in the 2016 Olympics a set?

As of August 2015, is the "set" of all gold medalists in the 2016 Olympics a set? I think it is since the defining property is very clear. However, given any $x$, we do not know if $x$ is in this "set"...
1
vote
1answer
119 views

Proof of identity A = A or 1 = 1

Is 1 = 1 an assumption? I feel it's a very good assumption, but is there a proof for it? Imagine a world where people were contesting it, where equivalence wasn't a common sense concept. In reality no ...
6
votes
3answers
351 views

Plantinga's logical argument for mind-body dualism [closed]

Some may feel this is not appropriate for the mathematics stack exchange, but it is a question in logic, and I feel it is entirely a good fit. The following argument has been put forth by the ...
55
votes
16answers
6k views

Why do we not have to prove definitions?

I am a beginning level math student and I read recently (in a book written by a Ph. D in Mathematical Education) that mathematical definitions do not get "proven." As in they can't be proven. Why not? ...
-1
votes
2answers
105 views

About the cardinality of natural numbers [Solved]

I had learned that the set is countable if and only if it is finite or countably infinite. We know well that the set $\mathbb{N}=\{1,2,3,4,\dots\}$ is an infinite set. In order to find out if the ...
1
vote
2answers
113 views

Can math be learned backwards? [closed]

In C++, we can reverse engineer and performance binary analysis to know exactly what a piece of binary will do, even without seeing the original source code. In math, can this be done? Basically, can ...
-10
votes
1answer
139 views

Math is no more valid than string theory or fan fiction? [closed]

I heard from a math expert that stated maths are not a single bit more accurate or valid than fan fiction or string theory. This was in a discussion regarding the philosophy of math and whether math ...
6
votes
1answer
196 views

Can the generalized continuum hypothesis be disguised as a principle of logic?

A cool way to formulate the axiom of choice (AC) is: AC. For all sets $X$ and $Y$ and all predicates $P : X \times Y \rightarrow \rm\{True,False\}$, we have: $$(\forall x:X)(\exists y:Y)P(x,y) \...
7
votes
5answers
281 views

What exactly is real number?

This question may sound philosophy, but it has been bothering me for a very long time, therefore I have to ask it here. The story goes back when my first time reading Apostol's Calculus, then I had ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Troubling questions about probability

Suppose we have some random phenomena. Is it true that any event concerning the phenomena has a fixed "correct" probability? That is, the correct probability is the relative number of occurrences of ...
1
vote
1answer
21 views

Finding unique rules for a finite number of initial steps, using Information theory

Is there a unique way to determine which rule provides the sequence that matches a finite number of initial steps, choosing the rule that needs the least amount of information to be described? ...
1
vote
2answers
83 views

From the perspective of the multiverse theory, would maths “work the same” in every possible Universe?

I've had an interesting discussion with a friend recently and I was arguing that in every possible Universe, mathematics would always have to work the same, i.e. $1 + 1 = 2$ would have to be true for ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Proving a theorem of logic

At the moment I'm going through a book which treats logic in a very rigorous axiomatic way. But I just got stuck in this theorem that I can't seem to be able to solve (I'm still trying hard). The ...
8
votes
1answer
287 views

When is a function a dimension?

The concept of dimension is used in many different contexts. Generally a dimension is a function that has as domain some family of sets ad has value on a set that, in the most common situations, is $...
5
votes
1answer
185 views

Since arithmetic has a model (thus it is consistent) why care if consistency can't be proved?

Since arithmetic has a model, the numbers as we know them, it is consistent. Why do we care if consistency can't be proved within arithmetic? Do I miss something, ie in what we can consider a model?
0
votes
3answers
96 views

Numbers and reality [closed]

I have a question I don't really know how to formulate, so apologies for the cloudy mess. The topic is on the meaning of numbers, that is when I say 3, I am referring to, say, $3$ avocados, or $3$ ...
21
votes
12answers
7k views

What is a negative number?

I'm trying to get to an abstract definition of a negative number that would fit in with the basic concept of addition/subtraction. There are questions here about multiplying and dividing negative ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

What do people mean by “finite”?

Many arguments about the foundations or philosophy of mathematics centre on the question of whether or not there exist objects or entities (such as certain sets) which are not "finite". (For instance,...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

What exactly is wrong with this argument (Lucas-Penrose fallacy)

Argument "For every computer system, there is a sentence which is undecidable for the computer, but the human sees that it is true, therefore proving the sentence via some non-algorithmic method."
7
votes
1answer
176 views

Presentation of a group question

So I know that given a presentation of a group $G$, one can derive from the relations of the group presentation any element in the group $G$ right. However, I do have some confusion. If we take $G=...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Naturality in linear algebra

Question. How can we formalize these intuitions about predicates on matrices? Let $P$ denote a predicate on matrices, so that $P(A)$ is true for some choices of matrix $A$ and false for all others. ...
1
vote
0answers
38 views

Imagening the Thurston geometries

I can (more of less) imagine how it would look if space was Euclidean, spherical of hyperbolic. But there are 8 Thurston geometries see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometrization_conjecture how ...
3
votes
2answers
386 views

Why is it important, that mathematics can be formalized in set theory?

Why is it important, that mathematics can be formalized in set theory? As one can read in the thread Are there areas of mathematics that cannot be formalized in set theory? Today known mathematical ...
118
votes
5answers
3k views

Why can't differentiability be generalized as nicely as continuity?

The question: Can we define differentiable functions between (some class of) sets, "without $\Bbb R$"* so that it Reduces to the traditional definition when desired? Has the same use in at least ...
5
votes
1answer
210 views

What are numbers? [duplicate]

The title is a bit of clickbait, but I think it's justified. How did I came to ask this question In programming, many programming languages have concepts of a hierarchy of numerical types. Often ...
11
votes
2answers
304 views

Motive for the definition of inner product

Mathematicians pride themselves on writing proofs of propositions in an elegant way, but frequently (maybe even usually?) neglect to formally write motivations of definitions with the same elegance, ...
1
vote
2answers
170 views

Why are Euclid axioms of geometry considered 'not sound'?

The five postulates (axioms) are: "To draw a straight line from any point to any point." "To produce [extend] a finite straight line continuously in a straight line." "To describe a circle with ...
3
votes
2answers
98 views

How to generate complicated looking identities such as $\sqrt [3] {2 + \sqrt 5} - \sqrt [3] {2 - \sqrt 5}=1$ easily?

How to generate complicated looking identities, or even more complicated looking identies such as $\sqrt [3] {2 + \sqrt 5} - \sqrt [3] {2 - \sqrt 5}=1$ easily? I saw the identity to be shown. What is ...
-3
votes
1answer
195 views

Why a line is said to have infinite number of points? [duplicate]

Why a line is said to have infinite number of points? Is this so because a line is ever lasting or we can not count how many points does it have? Finite means: Having an end. Infinite means: No end! ...
2
votes
1answer
430 views

I need help understanding Frege's definition of number

I have really been trying to understand Frege's definition of a number or at least gain a strong intuition of it. However, my attempts have not been fruitful. If someone could help me it would be much ...
1
vote
2answers
70 views

When the probability model of an experiment is correct?

Suppose I wanted to tell what's the probability of event $A$: getting 2 tails in a row of 5 coin tosses. According to the classical definition of probability, the probability of this event is equal to ...
5
votes
2answers
144 views

What is mathematical definition of a fluid?

I am searching the precise and mathematical definition of a fluid for a long time but I did not find it anywhere. What I mean by precise and mathematical can be understood by the following: There is ...
0
votes
0answers
68 views

curves in Poincare half space (3 dimensional hyperbolic geometry)

Okay maybe I am going a bit ahead of my self The Poincare half plane still has many mysteries for me But still I was puzzeling about the 3 dimensional variant of it. So lets assume an hyperbolic 3 ...
4
votes
1answer
138 views

Principle of mathematical induction

In his book “Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy” Bertrand Russell seems to reach the conclusion that mathematical induction is a definition and not a principle. In essence he states that ...
2
votes
4answers
204 views

Peano's Axioms: Mathematical Philosophy

In Peano Axioms, why is it necessary to define number and successor. Does not using them imply that we know what they mean? Or could they have just as easily been any two arbitrary terms which are not ...
34
votes
3answers
2k views

Avoiding proof by induction

Proofs that proceed by induction are almost always unsatisfying to me. They do not seem to deepen understanding, I would describe something that is true by induction as being "true by a technicality". ...
5
votes
3answers
263 views

Is there an area of study regarding why certain mathematical definitions are useful?

Often in my studies I'll come across an definition, which I understand, and but don't necessarily see why the particular definition was chosen to be studied. For example, the topological axioms (...
2
votes
2answers
109 views

Error in Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Is this an error in the text or am I reading incorrectly. What am I missing? Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Page 18 Definition of Number “A relation is said to be “one-one” when, if $x$ has ...
4
votes
2answers
81 views

What are the uses of cross-theoretic identifications within mathematics?

I've been thinking about the identification of objects from different mathematical theories. For example, when you do set theoretic constructions of the natural numbers and identify, e.g., 0 with the ...
4
votes
2answers
139 views

Does randomness exist? [closed]

I've been plagued with this question for a few years now and wanted to know what others think. Does true randomness really exist? In mathematics, a random process is based on the concept of random ...
2
votes
1answer
333 views

Is a derivation a proof?

Is there a difference between "derivation" and "proof"? I imagine a derivation is a type of proof but that proofs are perhaps more general. Although then again, I suppose every proof should be ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Justifying the use of real numbers for measuring length

I am not sure if this is the most appropriate place to post this but here goes nothing: Assume we were trying to come up with system of numbers $S$ to model our intuition of length. We want $S$ to ...
0
votes
1answer
65 views

More details of the “Standard View og Proof” with three points are needed.

I have a Danish book about the theory of knowledge for mathematicians which I have tried my best to translate some parts into English. According to the lecturer, we can with "certain reasonability" ...
1
vote
0answers
81 views

Computability, Continuity and Constructivism

Triggered by an IMO extremely interesting question & Mathematics Stack Exchange, asked by Dal: Computability and continuous real functions And a link in one of the comments that could have ...
2
votes
3answers
520 views

Every planar graph can be embedded on a sphere - formal proof?

The proof of the following theorem: A graph can be embedded on the surface of a sphere without crossings if and only if it can be embedded in the plane without crossings. is very short- The ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

Given ∼R and ∼ B, derive ∼ (R ∨ B)

*This question deals with the derivation system SD (Sentential Derivation), the rules of which can be seen on pages 3-4 here: http://www.shamik.net/teaching/materials/dasgupta%20SL%20definitions.pdf ...
6
votes
2answers
635 views

Why is homeomorphism understood as stretching and bending?

A function $f: X \to Y$ between two topological spaces $(X, T_X)$ and $(Y, T_Y)$ is called a homeomorphism if it has the following properties: $f$ is a bijection (one-to-one and onto) $f$ is ...
68
votes
11answers
8k views

How do people who study intensely abstract mathematics “imagine” or understand the concepts they are studying or being taught? [closed]

This question is probably to the actual people who study such mathematics, rather than any "third-party". I haven't studied any such mathematics, but I can imagine that some (probably most of it) of ...
0
votes
2answers
393 views

The word “times” for multiplication…? [closed]

The word "times" for multiplication operation which is quite touching to the concept of time (feeling time this way 0*1=0). When was introduced that term? Did any other language have the kind of term ...
0
votes
2answers
71 views

Question about induction to infinity with regard to Bolzano's philosophy

I'm a philosophy and mathematics student, and I'm writing a paper on a proof put forward by Bolzano that if we can know one thing to be true, then we can know infinite truths. Put simply, he states ...