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Topic: five reasons why mathematics ends in meaninglessness
Replies: 106   Last Post: Jul 20, 2011 10:00 AM

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 lwalke3@lausd.net Posts: 2,394 Registered: 8/3/07
Re: five reasons why mathematics ends in meaninglessness
Posted: May 11, 2011 12:45 PM

On May 10, 4:53 pm, James Burns <burns...@osu.edu> wrote:
> Transfer Principle wrote:
> > So by context, we conclude that byron intends the decimal reals --
> > the set of reals with only finitely many nonzero decimal digits (also
> > known as the ring Z[.1]).

> I understood originally the distinction that byron was making, and I
> strongly suspect -- /very/ strongly suspect -- that YBM already
> understood that distinction before your earlier response to him.
> It is an unclearly motivated distinction no matter who makes it.

I suspect that the main motivation between finite and infinite
decimals is so that elementary and middle school students can
learn the algorithm for computing with decimals.

From the Common Core Standards for Mathematics, Grade 5:

"Students use the relationship
between decimals and fractions, as well as the relationship between
finite decimals and whole numbers (i.e., a finite decimal multiplied
by an
appropriate power of 10 is a whole number), to understand and explain
why the procedures for multiplying and dividing finite decimals make
sense."

Thus, to the young learner of decimal arithmetic, the distinction
between finite and infinite decimal is crucial. Arithmetic of finite
decimals becomes reduced to arithmetic of closely related whole
numbers -- indeed, one can perform the operation on the whole numbers
and insert the decimal point at the end. The relationship between
arithmetic of infinite decimals and that of whole numbers is not
nearly as direct.

Emphasizing the computable-uncomputable real distinction over the
finite-infinite decimal distinction is inappropriate for students at
this age.

It's not until one is learning analysis, not arithmetic -- when one
learns to view the reals as D-cuts or classes of C-sequences rather
than infinite decimals -- when the distinction between finite and
infinite decimal becomes less important.

> > So this leaves me wondering -- can there be a "meaning_ful_" math,
> > one that avoids the undesirable classical result? If such a theory
> > exists, then it's not bound by classical results -- indeed its aim
> > would be to avoid the result .99[bar]=1 that leads to math ending
> > in "meaninglessness."

> Suppose you produce a non-classical system without the
> "meaningless" .99[bar]=1. Will byron thank you for taking
> it away from him? I greatly doubt that. Much more likely is
> that he will either ignore you (the front-runner) or he
> will look around until he finds something else to call
> "meaningless".

If byron considers math to be "meaningless," then what would he
have us do in lieu of math?

> I tend to write them down as truth and Truth, by which I mean
> (1) retail truth, or true things, such as "Snow is white",
> "I am in front of my computer". We would not be able to live
> without retail truth, without knowing, for example, whether
> we were in front of our computers. Fortunately, /retail/ truth
> seems to be almost wholely lacking in problems, at least
> such problems as philosophers and erotic poets pay attention to.
> We are still required to open our eyes and look around us,
> though, and, yes, this can be turned into a problem
> by some people.
> and (2) wholesale truth, or philosophical statements of vast
> consequence which, nonetheless, many people insist upon ignoring
> and carrying on their lives quite well without,
> even if they do so with a shocking lack of gratitude to
> philosophers and erotic poets for their efforts on the behalf
> of the larger community.
> When I say my goal is to make everybody truthful, I am referring
> to retail truth. I claim that you know very well what this is,
> as do I, even if you may not be able to define it precisely.
> (I know I can't.) You are also able to digest meals and I know
> you can, although you may not know how you do this, and I certainly
> do not know.
> When byron refers to truth, it has all of the earmarks of wholesale
> truth. Do you not agree? Especially telling is his application of
> the word "meaninglessness" to, well, pretty much everything.

Once again, if byron considers all math to be "meaningless," then
what would he have us do in lieu of math?

> It looks to me as though a search for retail truth and a search for
> wholesale truth can carry on quite well without interfering with
> each other.

OK. And I suppose you consider the use of certain words to which I
regularly object to be an instance of "retail truth"?

> You do not believe it, apparently, not even with the evidence of your
> own eyes in the threads you have been involved in, but [posters are
> not labeled] for what they argue for, but for the way
> they argue. Wierd conclusions and outlandish reasoning do seem to
> travel together, but I suspect that they are both caused by the
> [label-worthy] personality.

Whether it's what they argue for or how they argue, all I want to be
able to do is discourage the use of the overused labels. I want to
support or modify the label-worthy argument in a way so that the
labels go away.

Date Subject Author
4/5/11 byron
4/5/11 Porky Pig Jr
4/25/11 byron
5/21/11 byron
4/6/11 Jacob
4/6/11 Tim Little
4/6/11 Marshall
4/6/11 Jacob
4/9/11 byron
4/11/11 byron
4/11/11 Jacob
4/14/11 byron
4/16/11 byron
4/29/11 byron
5/4/11 byron
5/4/11 YBM
5/4/11 Jack Markan
5/4/11 byron
5/4/11 YBM
5/4/11 Jack Markan
5/4/11 Bill
5/4/11 byron
5/4/11 byron
5/5/11 YBM
5/5/11 byron
5/5/11 YBM
5/5/11 byron
5/9/11 byron
5/9/11 YBM
5/9/11 byron
5/9/11 tommyrjensen@gmail.com
5/9/11 byron
5/9/11 YBM
5/9/11 byron
5/9/11 YBM
5/9/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/9/11 Marshall
5/9/11 Jim Burns
5/10/11 Virgil
5/10/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/10/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/10/11 Jim Burns
5/10/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/10/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/11/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/11/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/11/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/11/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/11/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/11/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/10/11 Jim Burns
5/11/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/11/11 MoeBlee
5/11/11 Jim Burns
5/13/11 lwalke3@lausd.net
5/13/11 MoeBlee
5/14/11 Jim Burns
6/2/11 byron
6/3/11 byron
6/1/11 byron
6/2/11 byron
6/6/11 byron
6/6/11 YBM
5/10/11 FredJeffries@gmail.com
5/10/11 Michael Stemper
5/10/11 MoeBlee
5/10/11 Daryl McCullough
5/10/11 Rotwang
5/10/11 Jesse F. Hughes
5/10/11 Marshall
5/6/11 byron
5/18/11 byron
5/19/11 dan.ms.chaos@gmail.com
5/6/11 byron
5/6/11 Karthik
5/6/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 Jim Ferry
5/7/11 David Yen
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/7/11 byron
5/7/11 YBM
5/22/11 byron
5/29/11 byron
5/30/11 byron
5/30/11 YBM
6/4/11 byron
6/5/11 YBM
7/19/11 byron
7/20/11 byron