OT Re: Math-embarrassment results in CS [was: Should non-security 2.7 bugs be fixed?]

Rustom Mody rustompmody at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 20:09:01 CEST 2015


On Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 11:22:57 PM UTC+5:30, Oscar Benjamin wrote:
> On Wed, 22 Jul 2015 at 18:01 Steven D'Aprano <st... at pearwood.info> wrote:
> 
> 
> 
> I think that the critical factor there is that it is all in the past tense.
> 
> Today, I believe, the vast majority of mathematicians fall into two camps:
> 
> 
> 
> (1) Those who just use numbers without worrying about defining them in some
> 
> deep or fundamental sense;
> 
> 
> 
> Probably. I'd say that worrying too much about the true essence of numbers is just Platonism. Numbers are a construct (a very useful one). There are many other constructs used within mathematics and there are numerous ways to connect them or define them in terms of each other. Usually these are referred to as "connections" or sometimes more formally as "isomorphisms" and they can be useful but don't need to have any metaphysical meaning.

Philosophers-of-mathematics decry platonism.
However from my experience (I am not a professional mathematician, though
Ive known good ones) most practicing-mathematicians proceed on the assumption 
that they *discover* math and not that they *invent* it.
To me this says that though they may not know the meaning or spelling of 
platonism, they all layman-adhere to it.

tl;dr To me (as unprofessional a musician as mathematician) I find it arbitrary
that Newton *discovered* gravity whereas Beethoven *composed* the 9th symphony.
Maybe Beethoven was sent my God to write Ode-to-Joy and reunite Europe?


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