# Tagged Questions

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

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### Can we take definability and existence as primitive notions of a theory?

One of my friend tries to develop an alternative viewpoint of Set Theory. For this he has taken the terms binary relation, set, existence and definability as primitive notions of his Set Theory. After ...
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### How do we know logic works? [duplicate]

Every time I read about a theory in mathematics, it usually starts with axiomatizing the most fundamental concepts that are going to be treated. Recently, I have started finding this troubling. In ...
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### Are theorems like subroutines for math? [on hold]

I've been developing more appetite for math just lately, as I study electromagnetics to deepen my understanding of electric circuits and devices. I'm finding that doing derivations as exercises helps ...
38 views

### Is it possible to be a frequentist and a subjectivist at the same time?

I'm trying to understand the differences between (1) Bayesian vs frequentist; and (2) subjectivist vs objectivist. So far my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that: (1) Bayesian vs ...
969 views

### What Do Mathematicians Do?

The American Mathematical Society maintains a web page entitled "What Do Mathematicians Do?" which references two interesting surveys. (One of the reference links is broken, but this one works: What ...
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### Basic atoms in mathematics [closed]

Given the concepts '1', 'set' and 'sum' (and maybe 'point' for geometry), can you build the whole mathematics upon then? If not, what other basic atoms would you need?
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### Infinite sums vs infinite unions

Why is it that For every set $S$, there exists a set $\bigcup S$. is something we take for granted (even though $S$ could be infinite), while For every sequence $a_1,a_2,\dots$ of numbers, ...
1k views

### Is math an exact science? [closed]

The day before yesterday I talked with a friend of mine about math. He is also a PhD student like me, and in his opinion math cannot be consider an exact science, because the same statement could be ...
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### Differences between constructivism and formalism

What are the main differences between the formalism and constructivism in mathematics? Is there some theorem or axiom valid in formalism which isn't valid in constructivism and vice versa? Is the ...
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### How different are the positive and negative numbers?

Is there a fundamental difference between the positive and the negative numbers? Or is the difference like the one with electric charges in physics, where the other type of charge was just decided to ...
71 views

### In “10 grams of salt”, is the unit “grams”?

The gram is a unit of mass, so "10 grams" has "grams" as the unit. "10 pounds" uses a different unit. So what is the "salt" in "10 grams of salt", if not a unit? In other words, what is the ...
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### Any “exotic” foundations of mathematics? [closed]

There is a myriad of axiomatizations of set theory (a branch of mathematics obviously not at all identical with notorious ZFC) and other formal systems working with classes, categories and such. All ...
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### Why does $p$ (is true) strictly agree with $p$ while $p$ (is false) strictly disagrees?

Let's make the truth table: $$\begin{array}{|c|c|c|} \hline p&(p) \text{ is true}&(p) \text{ is false}\\ \hline T&T&F\\ F&F&T\\\hline \end{array}$$ "$p$ is true" strictly ...
4k views

### What does it mean to solve an equation?

This question might be more philosophical than mathematical. In school we are taught how to solve equations such as $x^2 - 1 = 0$ or $\sin(x) - 1= 0$. Solutions to these equations are quite simple. ...
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### Logical explanation why exponentiation operation is not commutative and associative

Considering Peano axioms we'll define addition, multiplication and exponentiation operations. We can then prove that addition and multiplication operations are commutative and associative. The proof ...
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### Cauchy's real line and math philosophy till XIX

I have to write an essay concerning philosophy of mathematics until the end of $XIX$ century. I've heard that the reason why the Cauchy's theorem (if continuous functions $f_n \rightarrow f$ then $f$ ...
146 views

### On “why” questions in mathematics

In response to the question How would one be able to prove mathematically that $1+1 = 2$?, Asaf Karagila explains: In a more general setting, one needs to remember that $0,1,2,3,…$ are just ...
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### Is Leibnizian calculus embeddable in first order logic?

We just published an article making what we feel is a plausible case in favor of an affirmative answer in Foundations of Science, see preprint here. The basic argument is that while such a requirement ...
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### Have humans ever used the Log Scale convention in the past rather than the Linear one?

There are many examples where our senses are based off of log scales such as volume of a noise, ability to guess (i.e.) plus or minus a power of 10 with Fermi, and even when we measure pain on 1 to 10 ...
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### On logic vs information theory

If the statements All crows are black and All non black things are non crows are equal, then why is the former so much easier to communicate by giving examples? What implications does this ...
5k views

### Is complex analysis 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 ...
170 views

### Law of Excluded Middle Controversy

I was reading an introductory book on logic and it mentioned in passing that the Law of Excluded Middle is somewhat controversial. I looked into this and what I got was the intuistionists did not ...
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### Can I just make this function up?

The Lambert W function was made to solve the problem $xe^x=k$ for $x$, which is given as $x=W(k)$. Could I just make a function $x=F(k)$ which solves $x\cos(x)=k$? Even though the solution has an ...
2k views

### Is formal truth in mathematical logic a generalization of everyday, intuitive truth?

I'm trying to wrap my head around the relationship between truth in formal logic, as the value a formal expression can take on, as opposed to commonplace notions of truth. Personal background: When I ...
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 ...
491 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 quite sure about ...
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### Are all statements about math inherently formal? Can one do math without formal logic? [duplicate]

Are all people who do mathematics applying (whether they know it or not) formal logic? Does every statement someone may make about math, at its core, a formal statement in mathematical logic? (I'm ...
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### Different Mathematics

Hey I am a high school student who is very interested in the philosophy of mathematics. I was watching this talk by Stephen Wolfram about whether or not mathematics is invented or discovered. In it he ...
43k 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 ...
### Should we or should we not take $1$ as a prime number? [duplicate]
I think I know that there were times in the past when it was convenient to look at a number $1$ as a prime number, and, as far as I can remember, even then it was dependent on who we ask is it prime ...