Questions tagged [philosophy]

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

779 questions
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How does one understand and resolve Zeno's paradox?

Zeno, a follower of Parmenides, reasoned that any unit of space or time is infinitely divisible or not. If they be infinitely divisible, then how does an infinite plurality of parts combine into a ...
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Is this the basic loophole in Zeno's paradox?

So, Zeno assumes that, to go from the mark at $1m$ to the mark at $2m$ we've to do an infinite number of tasks. Like the task of getting to $1.001m$, the task of getting to $1.000005m$,the task of ...
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Linear Temporal Logic - Combining Formulas

So the intent is to construct an LTL formula that describes the following scenario: There are two agents, Anastasia and Boris, who have arranged to meet at a cafe and exchange secret information. ...
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What does “most of mathematics” mean? [closed]

After reading the question Is most of mathematics not dealing with sets? I noticed that most posters of answer or comments seemed to be comfortable with the concept of "most of mathematics". I'm not ...
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Is most of mathematics independent of set theory? [closed]

Is most of mathematics independent of set theory? Reading this quote by Noah Schweber: most of the time in the mathematical literature, we're not even dealing with sets! it seems that the answer ...
4answers
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Why is the distributive property so pervasive in mathematics?

I just read this post which gives a geometric argument for the distributive law for real numbers, which I liked: https://math.stackexchange.com/a/466397/241685 However the distributive law comes up ...
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Game theoretic foundation of Kantian imperative like thinking

Let's say I'm involved in some project (e.g. humanity) in which I can invest some time, but I have no direct information about the amount of time spent by the other project members. Some common sense ...
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Do all mathematical ideas eventually find their way into the real world?

I am writing an essay for a scholarship and they asked the following question: "How will these goals enable you to help others?" Although I am majoring in pure math, this really got me to think about ...
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Are all questions solvable?

This is math/philosophical question. Are all problems solvable? By solution, I also mean that if a problem has no solution, then that is still a solution. What I mean is that for every problem, is ...
1answer
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Understanding impredicative definitions [closed]

In studying more on the mathematics in the past of Frege, Russell, and Zermelo, and I was wanting to learn more about impredicative/predicative definitions to solve some inquiries I had. 1. How does ...
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How do we prove a set axioms never lead to a contradiction?

How can we be sure that a set of axioms will never lead to a contradiction? If there's a contradiction, we will find it first or later. But if there's no one, how can we be sure we choosen reasonably ...
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What makes Euclidian space univalent and topological space multivalent?

Here is a quote from wikipedia: Euclidean axioms leave no freedom, they determine uniquely all geometric properties of the space. More exactly: all three-dimensional Euclidean spaces are ...
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How do we know we get the right answer?

The problem of ontology is one much discussed in mathematical philosophy with much categorization into different schools of thought, but the problem of epistemology seems to be less discussed; ...
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Why is the sigmoid function always written the way it is?

This might be a stupid question, but whenever I encounter the sigmoid function, it is written like this: Is there any particular reason why it is (it seems to me) never mentioned in the form: This ...
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Is axiomatic method the only way to introduce a mathematical theory?

I have some course in mathematics. Group theory, Ring theory, topology and etc. All of this theory begin with axioms. Whether every theory in mathematics should getting started with axioms? Is ...
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Is there a theory in physcics that has not a mathematical theory?

On person said to me that there is some theory in physics that they have not a good formalization yet, i.e. there is not a mathematical theory that covered them. Is this true? If yes, then without a ...
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Did some ultra-finitists suggest which number should be the largest?

I came across the ultra-finitism, the idea that there is a "largest number". Even most ultra-finitists admit that the "largest number" cannot be exactly defined. Therefore my question : Did some ...
1answer
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the way we do it or the way it should be done [closed]

in the preface to one of his works Sir Bertrand Russell writes: .. in mathematics the greatest degree of self-evidence is usually not to be found quite at the beginning, but at some later point .. ...
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weak counterexamples and the law of trichotomy in intuitionism

I've been reading a reaserch in Stanford's website about Intuitionism and I can't really understand what is a weak counter example and how does the intuitionistic continuum lookes like and it's ...
1answer
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In what way intuitionism is unique in the constructive approach [closed]

I am writing a paper on the subjects of constructivism and intuitionism. While I do know that intuitionism is a part of constructivism; it is also written that a lot of logic in intuitionism is unique ...
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Why isn't there an universal standard for mathematics? [closed]

I've been studying mathematics (e.g., calculus, linear algebra, statistics, etc) as part of my curriculum in informatics or computer science (whatever you want to call it), so I'm accustomed to ...
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Not computable (but definable) real numbers, not related to the halting problem?

The existence of not computable real numbers has been eating at me for a long time. However, I have not seen any example of such a number not related to the halting problem. Could any such number ...
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Some confusion about what a function “really is”.

Despite my username, my background is mostly in functional analysis where (at least to my understanding), a function $f$ is considered as a mathematical object in its own right distinctly different ...
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Fair coin toss probability question

Can anyone help me with this probability question?? You are out to dinner with two friends. You discover that there is only one remaining slice of chocolate cake, and so you all want to devise a fair ...
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Why do we find Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem surprising?

Gödel's First and Second Incompleteness Theorems are well-known, and usually taught by most colleges in undergrad logic courses. In my logic course I'm taking, we went over the proof of Gödel's ...
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Specific axioms under which the continuum hypothesis is true or false

It is well-known that the continuum hypothesis (CH) cannot be proven under the standard axioms (i.e. independence from ZFC). However, to (non-expert, beginning student of the field) me, it seems ...
1answer
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Difference between Deduction and Induction

I would like to know what is the difference between deduction and induction. Mathematical induction I know well, but now I would like to look at these from a philosophical point of view. All help is ...
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Adding zero, multiplying times one… are they mathematical operations?

I saw a mathematician explain how the number 1 is not considered a prime number despite it fitting the traditional definition for a prime number; it is a natural number that can be divided by 1 and by ...
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What are the implications of exponential growth of information?

The fact that linear growth of information (1,2,3.. bits) results in an exponential growth of the accumulated information (2,4,8.. possible values) seems to be very fundamental. What are the ...
2answers
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$\sqrt{-1}$ is both a positive and a negative number [closed]

I contend that there is a third category of number (in addition to positive and negative numbers), which are neutral. For the sake of expression, let us call these numbers neutral numbers. Zero, for ...
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Why isn't finitism nonsense?

This is a by product of this recent question, where the concept of ultrafinitism came up. I was under the impression that finitism was just "some ancient philosophical movement" in mathematics, only ...
3answers
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Does one proof imply the existence of other proofs?

I asked my math professor if the existence of one proof for something implies the existence of other proofs we may or may not have found yet (she didn't know). Another way to phrase it: are there ...
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Infinity is Many-One

Bertrand Russell in Introduction to mathematical philosophy states, "It will be observed that zero and infinity, alone among ratios, are not one-one. Zero is one-many, and infinity is many-one." (P.40)...
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How many different mathematical problem classes are there?

Not a very mathematical question. Was just wondering... Can every math problem ever created, and that ever will be created be reformulated into a particular example of a finite set of problem ...
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What exactly does tautology mean?

I'm struggling to understand the actual meaning of tautology. I know how to determine tautology with a truth table. But I don't understand what it actually means, so consider the following reasoning: ...
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What is the name of this fundamental math theory? [closed]

I remember reading a while back on Wikipedia about a theory that says all of Mathematics can be reduced to a set of string manipulation rules and don't need to have any actual meaning. So e.g. if 2+2=...
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Would it be possible to have an infinite set of numbers between an infinitely small space?

Would it be possible (or even make any sense) to define a new type of number such that there were an infinite amount of these numbers between an infinitely small space? For example, there could be an ...
1answer
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Equality notions in logics other than first order logic

Here https://terrytao.wordpress.com/books/analysis-i/ Terence Tao says: However, the axioms provided are the standard axioms for equality in first-order logic, which already suffices for most ...
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Morse-Kelley and category theory

How much of category theory can be formalized within Morse-Kelley? Is it even possible to define the notion of a category as a tuple consisting of a class of objects, a class of morphisms, and a ...
1answer
120 views

Nesting the same quantifiers

I already asked a similar question on StackExchange, but I have the feeling that I don't really understand the issue yet, so let me ask this question to understand it once and for all. If I have ...
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453 views

Does randomness exist in computers and in nature?

In the programming language Python, you can import random and then with random.random() you can get a random number between \$...
1answer
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ZFC. How can we be so sure it formalizes big parts of math?

I often hear people saying that all of mathematics can be formalized within ZFC. But I've also seen people who deny that, for example category theorists who work in an area where one might deal with ...
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What is(are) the reason(s) for defining things in the following way?

In this answer it is written that, In modern mathematics, there's a tendency to define things in terms of what they do rather than in terms of what they are. My questions are, What is(are) ...
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Are larger natural numbers less interesting? [closed]

0 and 1 are extremely intriguing. Even the number 2 introduces company. But at 3 it starts to feel a little old, and hardly no one ever mentions 6,247. Are we simply not equipped to deal with the ...