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Mathematics

  1. Jan 27, 2005 #1
    Would you say it's discovered or invented?
     
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  3. Jan 27, 2005 #2

    Kerrie

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    To say that Mathematics is discovered has the presumption that any form of intelligent life in our universe has the ability to understand Math also. To say that Math is invented is doubting the existence of the reality we are a part of, which can be a disruptive thought to many. I lean towards the idea we invented the language of math once we discovered how it works.
     
  4. Jan 28, 2005 #3
    It presumes no such thing. Perhaps not all forms of intelligent beings are able to comprehend mathematics. Some intelligent beings might find it easy, some might find it hard (I think we fit in this category), and some might find it incomprehensible. Who knows?

    Again, I don't see this as being necessarily so. There is no proof that reality is constructed along mathematical lines. There is only data perceived and interpreted by humans that suggests reality may follow mathematical laws. Again, who knows?
     
  5. Jan 28, 2005 #4

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    a similar question may be, "would you say language is discovered or invented?"
    so my answer is this: math is a means to describe physical reality much like language is a means to describe our thoughts, while physical reality and our thoughts exist independently of the way they are desribed. therefore, both math and language were invented to describe concepts already discovered.

    this post took me way too long. time to hit the sack.
     
  6. Jan 28, 2005 #5
    Physics is the means to describe reality. You don't really need math in physics to actually describe it -- you can do it in english. It just happens that using math in physics is a lot more practical. Math wasn't invented/discovered with the sole purpose of describing reality.

    Saying that math is "discovered", assumes that an answer exists whether we know it or not, and it is only a matter of time before we find it. Saying otherwise means that an answer may not exist... but what it means, I can't really interpret.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2005
  7. Jan 28, 2005 #6

    Kerrie

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    So, you have lent your constructive criticism on my answer, now where is yours? Is math invented or discovered, and why do you think so?
     
  8. Jan 28, 2005 #7
    Mathematics is an idea.
     
  9. Jan 28, 2005 #8

    arildno

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    I would say that we may discover consequences from axioms , but that to a quite large extent, we invent those axioms along with those objects we choose to study through math.
     
  10. Jan 28, 2005 #9

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    i think math was "invented" because it's more practical than language ...

    edit: we know an answer exist by the very definition of a problem. whether you find it's logical or not .. well, that's subjective.
    honestly, i don't understand why you equate the discovery of math with a logical universe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2005
  11. Jan 28, 2005 #10

    saltydog

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    Math is invented

    We create Mathematics as a metaphor for our perceptions (discovery). In our absence there is no Mathematics. The earth revolved around the sun before we got here but the math describing it wasn't.

    SD
     
  12. Jan 28, 2005 #11
    I did? Where?
     
  13. Jan 28, 2005 #12

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    i can only assume that by "answer" you meant something logical ( because math is ruled by logical principals ).
    yes, no, maybe?
     
  14. Jan 28, 2005 #13
    I'm currently writing on a book I call, Mathematics as a Concrete Abstraction that addresses this very issue. Which mathematical concepts have been discovered and which have merely been invented.

    I am completely convinced that the following conditional statement is true.

    IF mathematical formalism is supposed to correctly represent the quantitative nature of our universe, THEN our current modern mathematical formalism is incorrect.

    Obviously is isn't incorrect even every detail. Fortunately most of mathematics is on solid ground. In fact the bulk of mathematics from the early Greeks up until about 1850 is salvageable. This even includes the calculus which was introduced around 1700.

    However, around 1850 (or shortly thereafter) the mathematical community has made a terrible wrong turn away from the ontological discovery of the relationships and behavior of quantity, and toward an arbitrary subjective invention.

    Please note that I'm not saying that arbitrary symbolic logical axiomatic systems are not worthy of study. I simply object to lumping them under the umbrella of mathematics. It only serves to distort the original purpose of mathematics.

    Unfortunately I believe that you will find that the vast majority of modern mathematicians are all for continuing on this path. Most of them are not the least bit concerned whether mathematics correctly reflects any quantitative ontological behavior that the universe might exhibit. In fact, most of them will argue that it isn't even the purpose of mathematics to address or be concerned with such issues.

    I totally disagree of course. I believe that there is a lot to gain from understanding just which parts of mathematics were discovered from ontological truths, and which parts were arbitrarily invented by whimsical logicians. I have found that it is possible to separate these different types of ideas, and by separating them there is wisdom to be gained.
     
  15. Jan 28, 2005 #14
    Yes, but don't take it personally.

    My answer is: I don't know.
     
  16. Jan 28, 2005 #15

    Kerrie

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    Well, you must know something if you are in a position to critisize! That's a pet peeve of mine-able to tear up one's argument but have none of your own.


    Perhaps there are other forms of intelligent beings who comprehend math beyond what we do. When I said if math was discovered, we automatically assume that it is "real" and thus other forms of life would be able to discover it too. Being disovered means our mathematical formulas aren't just "made" by humans, but exist for any form of intelligent life to discover as well.

    Note I did say the reality "we are a part of". If you and I agree that 2 + 2 = 4, then I can safely say that we are of the same reality.

    So crag, what is your criticism of this idea? And why?
     
  17. Jan 28, 2005 #16

    Les Sleeth

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    What are you talking about? No proof? What kind of proof do you need before you accept that major aspects of physical reality, at least, can be mapped by math? That is either an incredibly ignorant statement or you are just being contrary.
     
  18. Jan 28, 2005 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    Imagine a universe where there is nothing but absolute chaos. Will math work? Even if you say probabilities can be formulated, if the chaos is absolute, probability is shot to hell.

    Math is a language that corresponds to the order that exists in our universe. The more order there is in a situation, the better math works; the less order there is, the more one has to fall back on probabilities.

    We invented the math, but we could only because we discovered that order is solidly part of our universe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2005
  19. Jan 28, 2005 #18

    selfAdjoint

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    True in general, but the amount of order required for math to get a grip is constantly being reduced - and probability is no longer the only recourse. Consider complex systems and deterministic chaos, two fields that have grown up in my lifetime, to handle stuff that would have been a mytery to the greatest when I was a kid. Or consider consider the evolution of thermodynamics from Clausius (linear closed systems at equilibrium) to Onsager (linear open systems near equilibrium) to the present (nonlinear open systems far from equilibrium).
     
  20. Jan 28, 2005 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    Well, I'm nothing if not a generalist. :cool:


    But would you still agree: no order, no math.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2005
  21. Jan 28, 2005 #20
    You do know the difference between proof and supporting evidence?
     
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