**54**

votes

**2**answers

15k views

### Is the analysis as taught in universities in fact the analysis of definable numbers?

Ten years ago when I studied in the university I had no idea about definable numbers, but I came to this concept myself. My thoughts were as follows:
All numbers are divided into two classes: those ...

**35**

votes

**7**answers

6k views

### Arguments against large cardinals

I started to learn about large cardinals a while ago, and I read that the existence, and even the consistency of the existence of an inaccessible cardinal, i.e. a limit cardinal which is additionally ...

**10**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Interesting meta-meta-mathematical theorems?

The Goedel incompleteness theorems can be considered meta-mathematical theorems, as they are "written" in a meta-theory and "talk" about properties of a class of formal theories.
The following may be ...

**28**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### Can a problem be simultaneously polynomial time and undecidable?

The Robertson-Seymour theorem on graph minors leads to some interesting conundrums.
The theorem states that any minor-closed class of graphs can be described by a finite number of excluded minors. As ...

**31**

votes

**15**answers

5k views

### Abstract Thought vs Calculation

Jeremy Avigad and Erich Reck in their remarkable historical paper "Clarifying the nature of the infinite: the development of metamathematics and proof theory" claim that one of the factors of becoming ...

**57**

votes

**4**answers

7k views

### Nelson's program to show inconsistency of ZF

At the end of the paper Division by three by Peter G. Doyle and John H. Conway, the authors say:
Not that we believe there really are any such things as infinite sets, or that the Zermelo-Fraenkel ...

**15**

votes

**2**answers

3k views

### Question arising from Voevodsky's talk on inconsistency

This question arises from the talk by Voevodsky mentioned in
this recent MO question. On one of his slides, Voevodsky says that
a general formula even with one free variable describes a subset of ...

**10**

votes

**10**answers

4k views

### Is PA consistent? do we know it?

1) (By Goedel's) One can not prove, in PA, a formula that can be interpreted to express the consistency of PA. (Hopefully I said it right. Specialists correct me, please).
2) There are proofs ...

**14**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Clarification of Gödel's second incompleteness theorem

I am sorry for the following question, because the actual answer to this question is in the beautiful works of Feferman and Jeroslow, but, unfortunately, I havn't any time to go into that specific ...

**8**

votes

**8**answers

2k views

### ULTRAINFINITISM, or a step beyond the transfinite

Cantor has, in the immortal words of D. Hilbert, given all of us a paradise (or perhaps, I would rather say, a great vacation spot), the TRANSFINITE.
$\aleph_0, \aleph_1,\aleph_2\dots$
the lists ...

**74**

votes

**16**answers

19k views

### What if Current Foundations of Mathematics are Inconsistent? [closed]

The title of the question is also the title of a talk by Vladimir Voevodsky, available here.
Had this kind of opinion been expressed before?
EDIT. Thanks to all answerers, commentators, voters, ...

**54**

votes

**13**answers

11k views

### Logic in mathematics and philosophy

What are the relations between logic as an area of (modern) philosophy and mathematical logic.
The world "modern" refers to 20th century and later, and I am curious mainly about the second half of ...

**58**

votes

**38**answers

12k views

### nontrivial theorems with trivial proofs

A while back I saw posted on someone's office door a statement attributed to some famous person, saying that it is an instance of the callousness of youth to think that a theorem is trivial because ...

**70**

votes

**21**answers

12k views

### Has philosophy ever clarified mathematics?

I've recently been reading some standard textbooks on the philosophy of mathematics, and I've become quite frustrated that (surely due to my own limitations) I don't seem to be gleaning any ...

**65**

votes

**18**answers

8k views

### Can a mathematical definition be wrong?

This question originates from a bit of history. In the first paper on quantum Turing machines, the authors left a key uniformity condition out of their definition. Three mathematicians subsequently ...

**44**

votes

**9**answers

5k views

### How do they verify a verifier of formalized proofs?

In an unrelated thread Sam Nead intrigued me by mentioning a formalized proof of the Jordan curve theorem. I then found that there are at least two, made on two different systems. This is quite an ...

**13**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### What is the “reason” for modularity results?

The question is a little wishy-washy, but I take my cues from other popular questions that relate to the philosophy behind the mathematics as Why do Groups and Abelian Groups feel so different? .
I ...

**15**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Martin's “Philosophical Issues about the Hierarchy of Sets”

Some months ago (October 2010), in the context of the Workshop on Set Theory and the Philosophy of Mathematics, Professor Donald A. Martin gave a talk entitled "Philosophical issues about the ...

**22**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Why should we believe in the axiom of regularity?

Today I started reading Maddy's Believing the axioms. As I knew beforehand, it includes some discussion of ZFC axioms. However, I really hoped for a more extensive discussion of axiom of ...

**18**

votes

**7**answers

1k views

### Extensional theorems mostly used intensionally

Some theorems are stated and proved extensionally, but in practice are almost always used intensionally. Let me give an example to make this clear -- integration by parts:
$$ \int_a^b f(x)g'(x)ds = ...

**17**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Are proper classes objects?

Many of us presume that mathematics studies objects. In agreement with this, set theorists often say that they study the well founded hereditarily extensional objects generated ex nihilo by the ...

**7**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### randomness in nature [closed]

What is the explanation of the apparent randomness of high-level phenomena in nature?
For example the distribution of females vs. males in a population (I am referring to randomness in terms of the ...

**22**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### In what ways did Leibniz's philosophy foresee modern mathematics?

Leibniz was a noted polymath who was deeply interested in philosophy as well as mathematics, among other things. From my mathematical readings I have the impression that Leibniz's stature as a ...

**17**

votes

**8**answers

1k views

### The Importance of ZF

It seems as though many consider ZF to be the foundational set of axioms for all of mathematics (or at least, a crucial part of the foundations); when a theorem is found to be independent of ZF, it's ...

**9**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Proper classes and their consequences

I have two main questions:
What is a proper class? I've read that it's collection of objects that's "too big" to be a set, but in what sense is such a collection "too big"? Since I'd like this post ...

**6**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### A meta-mathematical question related to Hilbert tenth problem

I am reading Bjorn Poonen's very nice survey on Hilbert's Tenth problem
(http://www-math.mit.edu/~poonen/papers/uniform.pdf), and while I believe I understand the mathematics well, I have widespread ...

**5**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Meta$^{n{-}th}$ mathematics [duplicate]

Metamathematics has a reasonably clear connotation,
enough to have a Wikipedia page,
with Gödel, Tarski, and Turing playing leading roles;
Kleene's book (Introduction to Metamathematics (Amazon ...

**10**

votes

**6**answers

1k views

### Defining variable, symbol, indeterminate and parameter

Are there precise definitions for what a variable, a symbol, a name, an indeterminate, a meta-variable, and a parameter are?
In informal mathematics, they are used in a variety of ways, and often in ...

**2**

votes

**0**answers

220 views

### Interpretation of Shannon Entropy Application

Consider a collection of increasing positive integers $\{a_i\}_{i=1}^m$ and the distribution $p_i=\frac{a_i}{\sum_{i=1}^ma_i}$. Let entropy of $\mathcal{A}=\{a_i\}_{i=1}^m$ be given
by ...

**9**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Use of Conjectures to Prove a Theorem

Name a theorem T that has a proof based upon the truth of a conjecture C, and also has another proof based upon the falsehood of the same conjecture C, but for longtime has no known direct proof that ...

**6**

votes

**2**answers

578 views

### Can we define an “empirically generic” real number?

Summary: My question, in a nutshell, is how we should intuitively imagine a generic real number (as opposed to a random one), and whether we can construct numbers which empirically behave like generic ...

**7**

votes

**1**answer

564 views

### Last Status of Feferman's Conjecture on Indefinite Value of Continuum

The "true" value of $2^{\aleph_0}$ is one of the most fundamental open questions of mathematics and its philosophy. Hundreds of set theoretic results during the last century don't say anything more ...