Philosophical aspects of logic and set theory; truth status of mathematical axioms; Philosophy of Mathematics; philosophical aspects of mathematics in general; relation of mathematics to philosophy; etc. Consider also posting at http://philosophy.stackexchange.com/, where philosophy-of-mathematics ...

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54
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2answers
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
7answers
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
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5answers
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
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7answers
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
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15answers
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
4answers
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
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2answers
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
10answers
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
2answers
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
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8answers
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
16answers
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
13answers
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
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38answers
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
21answers
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
18answers
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
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9answers
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
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5answers
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
1answer
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
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5answers
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
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7answers
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
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4answers
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
3answers
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
4answers
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
8answers
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
5answers
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
5answers
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
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2answers
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
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6answers
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
0answers
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
3answers
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
2answers
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
1answer
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 ...