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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nature of Mathematics

Is mathematics discovered or invented? And how does this influence patents? A slashdot piece pointed me to a Science News article:
" ... Think too hard about it, and mathematics starts to seem like a mighty queer business. For example, are new mathematical truths discovered or invented? Seems like a simple enough question, but for millennia, it has provided fodder for arguments among mathematicians and philosophers.

Those who espouse discovery note that mathematical statements are true or false regardless of personal beliefs, suggesting that they have some external reality. But this leads to some odd notions. Where, exactly, do these mathematical truths exist? Can a mathematical truth really exist before anyone has ever imagined it? ... "

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