Many mathematicians have cited depth as an important value in their research. However, there is no single widely accepted account of mathematical depth. This article is an attempt to bridge this gap. The strategy is to begin with a discussion of Szemerédi's theorem, which says that each subset of the natural numbers that is sufficiently dense contains an arithmetical progression of arbitrary length. This theorem has been judged deep by many mathematicians, and so makes for a good case on which (...) to focus in analyzing mathematical depth. After introducing the theorem, four accounts of mathematical depth will be considered. (shrink)
Traditional geometry concerns itself with planimetric and stereometric considerations, which are at the root of the division between plane and solid geometry. To raise the issue of the relation between these two areas brings with it a host of different problems that pertain to mathematical practice, epistemology, semantics, ontology, methodology, and logic. In addition, issues of psychology and pedagogy are also important here. To our knowledge there is no single contribution that studies in detail even one of the aforementioned areas.
Une preuve est pure si, en gros, elle ne réfère dans son développement qu’à ce qui est « proche » de, ou « intrinsèque » à l’énoncé à prouver. L’infinité des nombres premiers, un théorème classique de l’arithmétique, est un cas d’étude particulièrement riche pour les recherches philosophiques sur la pureté. Deux preuves différentes de ce résultat sont ici considérées, à savoir la preuve euclidienne classique et une preuve « topologique » plus récente proposée par Furstenberg. D’un point de vue (...) naïf, il semblerait que la première soit pure et la seconde impure. Des objections à cette vue naïve sont ici considérées et réfutées. Concernant la preuve euclidienne, la question relève de la logique, notamment de la définissabilité arithmétique de l’addition en termes de successeur et de divisibilité telle que démontrée par Julia Robinson, tandis qu’en ce qui concerne la preuve topologique, la question relève de la sémantique, notamment pour tout ce qui touche au problème de savoir ce qui est « inclus » dans le contenu d’énoncés particuliers.A proof is pure, roughly, if it draws only on what is « close » or « intrinsic » to the statement being proved. The infinitude of prime numbers, a classical theorem of arithmetic, is a rich case study for philosophical investigation of purity. Two different proofs of this result are considered, namely the classical Euclidean proof and a more recent « topological » proof by Furstenberg. Naively the former would seem to be pure and the latter to be impure. Objections to these naive views are considered and met. In the case of the former the issue rests on logical matters, specifically the arithmetic definability of addition in terms of successor and divisibility shown by Julia Robinson, while in the case of the latter the issue rests on semantic matters, specifically with respect to what is « contained » in the content of particular statements. (shrink)
Throughout history, mathematicians have expressed preference for solutions to problems that avoid introducing concepts that are in one sense or another “foreign” or “alien” to the problem under investigation. This preference for “purity” (which German writers commonly referred to as “methoden Reinheit”) has taken various forms. It has also been persistent. This notwithstanding, it has not been analyzed at even a basic philosophical level. In this paper we give a basic analysis of one conception of purity—what we call topical purity—and (...) discuss its epistemological significance. (shrink)
A variety of projects in proof theory of relevance to the philosophy of mathematics are surveyed, including Gödel's incompleteness theorems, conservation results, independence results, ordinal analysis, predicativity, reverse mathematics, speed-up results, and provability logics.
Many mathematicians and philosophers of mathematics believe some proofs contain elements extraneous to what is being proved. In this paper I discuss extraneousness generally, and then consider a specific proposal for measuring extraneousness syntactically. This specific proposal uses Gentzen’s cut-elimination theorem. I argue that the proposal fails, and that we should be skeptical about the usefulness of syntactic extraneousness measures.
Our visual experience seems to suggest that no continuous curve can cover every point of the unit square, yet in the late nineteenth century Giuseppe Peano proved that such a curve exists. Examples like this, particularly in analysis (in the sense of the infinitesimal calculus) received much attention in the nineteenth century. They helped instigate what Hans Hahn called a “crisis of intuition”, wherein visual reasoning in mathematics came to be thought to be epistemically problematic. Hahn described this “crisis” as (...) follows: Mathematicians had for a long time made use of supposedly geometric evidence as a means of proof in much too naive and much too uncritical a way, till the unclarities and mistakes that arose as a result forced a turnabout. Geometrical intuition was now declared to be inadmissible as a means of proof... (p. 67) Avoiding geometrical evidence, Hahn continued, mathematicians aware of this crisis pursued what he called “logicization”, “when the discipline requires nothing but purely logical fundamental concepts and propositions for its development.” On this view, an epistemically ideal mathematics would minimize, or avoid altogether, appeals to visual representations. This would be a radical reformation of past practice, necessary, according to its advocates, for avoiding “unclarities and mistakes” like the one exposed by Peano. (shrink)
Our visual experience seems to suggest that no continuous curve can cover every point of the unit square, yet in the late 19th century Giuseppe Peano proved that such a curve exists. Examples like this, particularly in analysis received much attention in the 19th century. They helped to instigate what Hans Hahn called a ‘crisis of intuition’, wherein visual reasoning in mathematics came to be thought to be epistemically problematic. Hahn described this ‘crisis’ as follows : " Mathematicians had for (...) a long time made use of supposedly geometric evidence as a means of proof in much too naive and much too uncritical a way, till the unclarities and mistakes that arose as a result forced a turnabout. Geometrical intuition was now declared to be inadmissible as a means of proof … "Avoiding geometrical evidence, Hahn continued, mathematicians aware of this crisis pursued what he called ‘logicization’, ‘when the discipline requires nothing but purely logical fundamental concepts and propositions for its development’. On this view, an epistemically ideal mathematics would minimize, or avoid altogether, appeals …. (shrink)
This collection of essays explores what makes modern mathematics ‘modern’, where ‘modern mathematics’ is understood as the mathematics done in the West from roughly 1800 to 1970. This is not the trivial matter of exploring what makes recent mathematics recent. The term ‘modern’ (or ‘modernism’) is used widely in the humanities to describe the era since about 1900, exemplified by Picasso or Kandinsky in the visual arts, Rilke or Pound in poetry, or Le Corbusier or Loos in architecture (a building (...) by the latter graces the cover of this book’s dust jacket). (shrink)
Many mathematicians have sought ‘pure’ proofs of theorems. There are different takes on what a ‘pure’ proof is, though, and it’s important to be clear on their differences, because they can easily be conflated. In this paper I want to distinguish between two of them.
When mathematicians think of the philosophy of mathematics, they probably think of endless debates about what numbers are and whether they exist. Since plenty of mathematical progress continues to be made without taking a stance on either of these questions, mathematicians feel confident they can work without much regard for philosophical reflections. In his sharp–toned, sprawling book, David Corfield acknowledges the irrelevance of much contemporary philosophy of mathematics to current mathematical practice, and proposes reforming the subject accordingly.
In this paper I begin by extending two results of Solovay; the first characterizes the possible Turing degrees of models of True Arithmetic (TA), the complete first-order theory of the standard model of PA, while the second characterizes the possible Turing degrees of arbitrary completions of P. I extend these two results to characterize the possible Turing degrees of m-diagrams of models of TA and of arbitrary complete extensions of PA. I next give a construction showing that the conditions Solovay (...) identified for his characterization of degrees of models of arbitrary completions of PA cannot be dropped (I showed that these conditions cannot be simplified in the paper. (shrink)
In this paper we consider three potential simplifications to a result of Solovay’s concerning the Turing degrees of nonstandard models of arbitrary completions of first-order Peano Arithmetic (PA). Solovay characterized the degrees of nonstandard models of completions T of PA, showing that they are the degrees of sets X such that there is an enumeration R ≤T X of an “appropriate” Scott set and there is a family of functions (tn)n∈ω, ∆0 n(X) uniformly in n, such that lim tn(s) s→∞.