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How does a mathematician define Mathematics?

  1. Apr 9, 2004 #1
    I searched my dictionary and it said:

    Science which deals with qualities of numbers and figures.

    Is this the definition you would give or do you know a better one?

    and How would you explain Mathematics to a layman?
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2004 #2
    Hi Lorentz :

    Here is a very simple answer but amaybe difficult to understand:

    Mathematics is what mathematician is doing!!!



    If you want more explanation please let me know

    Moshek
    :smile:
     
  4. Apr 9, 2004 #3
    Mathematics is what mathematician are doing!!!



    p.s sorry for my mistake in the answer i gave before !
     
  5. Apr 9, 2004 #4
    I don't really think a mathematician wants to or needs to define mathematics.
     
  6. Apr 9, 2004 #5
    Mathematics is the symbolic representation of states or processes transformed through cognition.
     
  7. Apr 9, 2004 #6

    HallsofIvy

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    I was going to say "Mathematicians don't define mathematics, they do it!" but I see that that has already been said!

    If I really had to, I would be inclined to say "In all subjects, one has objects of study (mass, energy in physics; atoms, molecues in chemistry; etc.) and relations between those objects. In mathematics, one studies relationships in the abstract.

    Another way of putting the same thing is to say that mathematical structures (groups, fields, vector spaces, etc.) are templates that essentially give all of the ways things can be related to one another. In applying mathematics to another field, one chooses a template and tries to fit the subject to that template.
     
  8. Apr 9, 2004 #7
    Is that true? I wouldn't call myself a mathematician though I use maths all the time (by solving physics equations). So is what I'm doing not maths, am I a mathematician or is your definition incomplete?
     
  9. Apr 9, 2004 #8
    Layman: Hi Chen, I hear you're Mathematician.
    Chen: Yes, that's right.
    Layman: Chen, what is Maths exactly?
    Chen: I don't really think a mathematician wants to or needs to define mathematics.
    Layman: :confused:
     
  10. Apr 9, 2004 #9

    matt grime

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    If you're a mathematician you do maths, where does it say if you use maths you're a mathematician? As the old rule goes, if you need to ask then you don't need to know.


    Besides, any mathematician can only describe what it is they do which is some part of mathematics.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2004
  11. Apr 9, 2004 #10

    matt grime

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    Ok, lorentz, define green, define music, define jazz. What makes you think it is necessary or even beneficial to ask a question just because you can.

    Mathematics is the study of mathematical objects, and those are abstractions of physical objects and their models.
     
  12. Apr 9, 2004 #11
    I don't think we would have arrived at doing Maths if we didn't start questioning in the first place.

    Now was that so hard?
     
  13. Apr 9, 2004 #12

    matt grime

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    But is that answer correct? It is glib, off the cuff, and not at all accurate, is it? It's the best I can do for someone who wants answers to unanswerable questions.
     
  14. Apr 9, 2004 #13

    ahrkron

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    No, since he only hid the question. You now would need to ask "what are mathematical objects".

    The answer? what mathematicians study :smile:
     
  15. Apr 9, 2004 #14

    matt grime

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    Damn, you spotted the trick....
     
  16. Apr 9, 2004 #15
    Yes, but what my dictionary said was even more off the cuff. Isn't it better for me to use your definition and try to understand what you meant by it?
     
  17. Apr 9, 2004 #16
    We arrived at this for asking questions that were meaningful and beneficial, rather than just any question that springs to mind.
     
  18. Apr 9, 2004 #17
    Huh? didn't he say what Mathematical object are?

     
  19. Apr 9, 2004 #18
    Isn't it more meaningful to know what you're doing rather then just doing it?
     
  20. Apr 9, 2004 #19
    The important thing is not to stop questioning. (that's a qoute from Einstein)

    I believe if you keep on questioning you'll reach a higher degree of understanding.

    Maybe a misconception is that I'm asking for an answer, Well I ain't. I'm trying to discuss things so I can hear opinions which will help me grasp things better.
     
  21. Apr 9, 2004 #20

    matt grime

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    But I didn't define what it meant for an object ot be physical or what a model of it is, or what it is that makes these things mathematical objects.
     
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