Questions involving philosophy of mathematics

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Why is time important in the Ross-Littlewood paradox?

I have read many defferent versions of the Ross-Littlewood Paradox. This post: Fun quiz: where did the infinitely many candies come from? This post: Paradox: increasing sequence that goes to $0$? ...
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Codifying ways to think and write about imprecise ideas?

This question will not be about affine spaces; rather those are mentioned here as one of many examples. A vector space has an underlying set and a field of scalars and an operation of linear ...
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8answers
1k views

Reference request: is mathematics discovered or created?

I have to write a short monograph as an assignment for a course on the philosophy of science. Being a math student, of course I want to opt for something math-related. After some initial ideas which ...
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2answers
125 views

What is the necessary condition for the process of “proceeding to the limit” in Whitehead and Russell's PM?

I read this from Introduction of the 1st edition of Principia Mathematica by Whitehead and Russell: Since the orders of functions are only defined step by step, there can be no process of ...
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1answer
36 views

Geometries (Euclidean and Projective)

We can think of Euclidean Geometry and Cartesian (Coordinate) Geometry as equivalent, in the sense that some proposition is true in Euclidean Geometry iff it's true in Coordinate Geometry. It makes ...
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If the Planck length exists, why doesn't it follow then that the world is one-dimensional? [closed]

As I understand it, the planck length means that space itself as we preceive it is quantized. We think of space as 3-dimensional, right? But if there truly is a planck length, to me that shows that ...
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109 views

Will Mathematical discoveries slow down? [closed]

With more and more Mathematics being discovered through time is it not the case that to make new discoveries, old theorems would have to be learned? Therefore would this not mean that there is a point ...
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4answers
206 views

Which mathematical ideas most influenced the way you think?

This is not a question about how you use a formula or mathematical method to solve quantitative problems - that is applied mathematics. Rather, I'd like to hear how deeper ideas gained through the ...
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3answers
334 views

The standard role of intuitive numbers in the foundations of mathematics

In my career I've been formed mostly in the formal side of mathematics, that is, standard set theory and every classical branch of mathematics that uses set theory. However, I am not pretty sure about ...
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3answers
79 views

Why Maximize Expected Value?

In many instances I've come across (in Game Theory, etc), when trying to choose an optimal strategy it has the criterion that it wants to maximize expected value much of the time. To simplify this ...
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6answers
221 views

Interviews of famous modern mathematicians

I was wondering, are there any good collections of interviews of famous modern mathematicians? It can be text interviews, or audio or video recordings. I am not sure what exactly I mean by "modern". ...
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10answers
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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?
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5answers
324 views

Are the real numbers really uncountable?

Consider the following statement Every real number must have a definition in order to be discussed. What this statement doesn't specify is how that loose-specific that definition is. Some examples ...
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2answers
113 views

Is the “Most Important Property a Set S has” Necessary and Sufficient to Define a Paradox-Free Notion of Set?

About a year and a half ago, while I was looking on the Web for papers regarding the Russell paradox, I chanced to find an interesting concept. This concept was contained in what (for want of a ...
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1answer
59 views

Formulation VS Interpretation

I'm reading a book on Mathematical Physics and at some point the author says that we must distinguish between a "formulation" and an "interpretation" of a theory, although it's not easy to point what ...
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1answer
211 views

What do ultrafinitists think about Graham's number?

I know ultrafinitists want to require not only that mathematical objects be constructible, but be constructible given finite resources (such as time). So I wonder about something like the famous ...
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3answers
70 views

Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory the natural numbers defines $1$ as $1 = \{\{\}\}$ but this does not seem right

If 1 can be defined as the set that contains only the empty set then what of sets which contain one thing such as the set of people who are me. number 1 does not just mean $1$ nothing, it means $1$ ...
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1answer
308 views

What lessons have mathematicians drawn from the existence of non-standard models?

So, as someone whose knowledge of mathematics has always come from studying it with an eye towards philosophical/foundational issues and studying it with other philosophers (who are not primarily ...
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1answer
99 views

Why didn't Frege succeed in his attempts to reduce mathematics to logic?

My background: Sophomore-level understanding of mathematics and philosophical logic. All the explanations I have found online so far are either far too technical or too simplistic. Thanks in advance ...
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Theoretical question of physical analogies to different O(f(x)) based characteristics of algoritms

I want to better understand the following concepts: "n!", "e^n". I.e. what is the physical analogy of the functions at the bottom of the message. F.ex. for the "n^a" and "log a x" where a equals to ...
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1answer
96 views

Where do natural numbers exist? [closed]

Do natural numbers exist somewhere, not necessarily a spatial location? I have always wondered this. I mean, you can't see the number 1, so where do numbers like 1 exist? I apologize if the question ...
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2answers
149 views

What is the meaning/purpose of finding the “foundations of mathematics”?

I've read in a lot of places how there was a "foundational crisis" in defining the "foundations of mathematics" in the 20th century. Now, I understand that mathematics was very different then, I ...
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1answer
56 views

particular property and completeness?

I was puzzeling with the almost standard definition of completeness: In mathematical logic and metalogic, a formal system is called complete with respect to a particular property if every formula ...
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3answers
270 views

How Do You Know If Mathematical Definition Matches Up With Reality?

This is probably one of the biggest question I have when learning some mathematics. I always wonder if I have a concept in my head lets say continuity. Lets I want this concept to be able to ...
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35answers
27k views

Do complex numbers really exist?

Complex numbers involve the square root of negative one, and most non-mathematicians find it hard to accept that such a number is meaningful. In contrast, they feel that real numbers have an obvious ...
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1answer
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Formalized philosophy

I once recall a conversation with a friend who told me that his friend was taking a philosophy course where the ideas and concepts were formalized and done very rigorously. This really intrigues me. I ...
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Is there any formal definition or reasonably good heuristic for mathematical 'interestingness?' [closed]

One of the projects I'd like to work on over the next several years in my spare time is a first order theorem prover similar to Prover9 to attack some of the TPTP problems, and it occurs to me that ...
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Michael Spivak in “Calculus” asserts that $\sqrt2$ cannot be proven to exist, and that such a proof is impossible. What does he mean by “exist”?

Michael Spivak in "Calculus" asserts that $\sqrt2$ cannot be proven to exist, and that such a proof is impossible. What does he mean by "exist"? How are you to prove that any number "exists"? Why ...
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16answers
4k views

Is a proof still valid if only the writer understands it?

Say that there is some conjecture that someone has just proved. Let's assume that this proof is correct--that it is based on deductive reasoning and reaches the desired conclusion. However, if ...
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8answers
2k views

Complex analysis is more “real” than real analysis

In physics, in the past, complex numbers were used only to remember or simplify formulas and computations. But after the birth of quantum physics, they found that a thing as real as "matter" itself ...
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1answer
38 views

Zero vs Infinity relation type

I'm not sure it should be asked here or in philosophy. Bertrand Russell in his book "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy" in chapter 7 when discussing rational numbers on page 66 says: "It will ...
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0answers
42 views

Why are divergent Fourier series all so 'HARD'?

I'm not sure if this question is appropriate or even making sense, but I still feel curious: why are every example of divergent Fourier series SO COMPLICATED? It usually takes pages to construct and ...
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14answers
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How big is infinity?

This might be more philosophy than math, but it’s been bothering me for a while. Question: If there’s an infinite amount of real numbers between $ 0 $ and $ 1 $, shouldn’t there be twice the ...
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3answers
630 views

What is more important in Mathematics, Theorems or its Proofs?

Felix Klein once said, Mathematics has been advanced most by those who are distinguished more for intuition than for rigorous methods of proof. Till now I thought the opposite. I thought that ...
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106 views

Can equinumerosity by defined in monadic second-order logic?

Two properties (or concepts) $F$ and $G$ are said to be equinumerous if they have the same cardinality, i.e. if they can be put in one-to-one correspondence with each other. This can be very easily ...
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6answers
188 views

Logical issues with the weak law of large numbers and its interpretation

In several probability textbooks I have found what amounts to the following argument: Let A be an event in some probabilistic experiment. Let p=P(A) be the probability of this event occurring in ...
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2answers
140 views

Do the Kolmogorov's axioms permit speaking of frequencies of occurence in any meaningful sense?

It is frequently stated (in textbooks, on Wikipedia) that the "Law of large numbers" in mathematical probability theory is a statement about relative frequencies of occurrence of an event in a finite ...
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247 views

Set theoretic realism

What are the main contemporary arguments for and against realism about set theory?
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149 views

Is it Theoretically Impossible to Demonstrate that Set Theories Are Consistent?

I have to present on the main realist and non-realist arguments for/against set theory. According to one of my sources, it remains a matter of debate as to whether any of the set theories' (ZF, NF, ...
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40 views

The Major Weaknesses in Ramified Type Theory

I am reviewing a paper on the major weaknesses of Ramified Type Theory in predicative second-order arithmetic. These four are listed as "weaknesses." But, I have my doubts. It seems at least that 3) ...
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1answer
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Evolution of Relations

In Frege, one finds relations treated as predicates in complex terms. However, modern set theory appears to treat them as two-place relation. Is this correct? If so, when did this shift occur and to ...
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23answers
10k views

Can a coin with an unknown bias be treated as fair?

This morning, I wanted to flip a coin to make a decision but no coins were in reach. There was however an SD card on my desk: Given that I don't know the bias of this SD card, would flipping it be ...
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3answers
98 views

Why do we formalize conceptions?

Why do we always try to formalize conceptions? Let's take the naive conception of sets, why do we try to write down a list of axioms? what do we earn in doing so? I'm looking especially for ...
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1answer
92 views

A question regarding Worldly Cardinals and L

For some $L_\kappa$ in the constructible hierarchy, does there exist a $\kappa$ such that $\kappa$ is a worldly cardinal and that $L_\kappa$ contains all of the constructible reals? The motivation ...
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2answers
95 views

Abstract Objects in Logic

I am confused on the concept of extensionality versus intensionality. When we say 2<3 is True, we say that 2<3 can be demonstrated by a mathematical proof. So, according to mathematical logic, ...
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3answers
122 views

Provocations on the existence of mathematical objects

The few Mathematics I have been studying so far is pure Mathematics. I happen to have some discussions with philosophers of Mathematics, but as they know I totally ignore their subject, we do not ...
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1answer
88 views

Does math have to be learned linearly?

I am asking because often times one doesn't know where to start in math. "Just learn what you need" is very vague and unspecific ... for example, assume I'm a beginner at Algebra and was considering ...
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1answer
415 views

Do only certain people exceed at math well? [closed]

It's obvious if you look around that math has always been one of the toughest subjects in all areas, from federal-traditional public schools to simply people learning it as an autodidact, hobby, or as ...
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How can Zeno's dichotomy paradox be disproved using mathematics?

A brief description of the paradox taken from Wikipedia: Suppose Sam wants to catch a stationary bus. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must ...
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1answer
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Difference between impredicative and predicative version of separation axiom

What is the difference between an impredicative and a predicative version of the separation axiom in ZFC: $$\forall x \exists y \forall z ( z\in y \leftrightarrow (z \in x \wedge \phi (z)) $$ What ...