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Reality , Mathematics, and Computer Software

  1. Oct 5, 2003 #1
    "Reality", Mathematics, and Computer Software

    I believe this thread belongs in the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics section rather than in the "Software" section, because it deals with, well, philosophy of science and mathematics.

    First of all, what IS mathematics? Is it not a way of describing the universe and the things within it? The only other possibility, it would appear, is that mathematics is the set of laws which the universe follows. Either it describes an actuality, or an actuality describes it. I believe it can be generally agreed that mathematics descibes reality rather than the other way around. If you do not agree, feel free to present your argument against our assumption.

    Accepting that mathematics describes the universe (what, for our purposes, shall be considered reality, although the validity of this point of view is in some dispute), the flaw in a computer program emulating reality is clear. Computer software is RULED by mathematics; rather than mathematics simply DESCRIBING computer programs, computer programs are described by mathematics. Therefore the ultimate degree of realism cannot be found in any software made on current computers.

    How, then, could we go about making a "virtual universe", had we the desire? Obviously we cannot overcome the flaw in computers- we need a new type of machine altogether! A computer capable of true "universe emulation" is required to not use a single number in its code! A program that created a perfectly realistic virtual universe would have to be based on geometric shapes and such- for that is what the real universe is based on- and NOT numbers.

    How, though, would you build such a machine? Is it even possible? As an additional note, the human mind does not appear to be based on mathematics...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2003 #2


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    Ah but is it?

    Let's make a different contention. That the universe is based on LAWs, a rather abstract entity that provides the basis of existence. To this extent, the human brain is government by laws - laws of electrodynamics, regarding the flow of charge, laws of chemistry, and everything.

    So, if we accept that mathematics is merely a language to describe the laws, we can still build a machine on maths because after the machine parses the data, it is not significant what language the laws are fed in - what it appreciates is the meaning they have.

    Try are analogy - when I talk to you about an apple, my words are only a description of what I speak. But what works your mind to give a response is not the words of description, but the meaning behind them. It does not matter that the existence of the apple is not bound in a word.
  4. Oct 5, 2003 #3
    So what you mean is that mathematics is like language: they both describe. Therefore just as I can describe an apple and you can understand that I am talking about an actual apple and not the WORD apple, I can describe the universe through mathematics and it can be sufficient to show the actual universe?

    This sounds very logical.
  5. Oct 7, 2003 #4


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    Aptly put. That is what I mean.

    Whether it is sufficient is another question though. We may simply lack the detail to describe the universe to the extent we require...
  6. Oct 8, 2003 #5
    If we lack that detail, perhaps mathematics should be recreated completely... An important problem seems to be that of geometry: everything in mathematical geometry is based on points. Thus a true LINE is impossible, you can only specify two points and thus infer the others, and the same goes for planes, polygons, everything. However, I've not the slightest idea of how to create a system that could represent these things in their actuality... It may well be impossible.
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