What is Math?
Date: 10/04/97 at 01:37:23 From: James J Lake Subject: What is Math? Dear Dr. Math: Is math a science, an art, or some other anomaly?
Date: 10/07/97 at 12:55:41 From: Doctor Ceeks Subject: Re: What is Math? Hi, What a question! To me, mathematics is a discipline that seeks understanding of the patterns and structures of constructs of the human mind. Understanding has no end to its depth, and mathematics seeks the highest standards of understanding by demanding rigor in its foundations and in its development. Rigor is achieved by responsible attention to the principles of logic. In a strict sense, mathematics differs from science, if we accept that science is the discipline that seeks understanding of the physical world by means of the scientific method. (The scientific method is the procedure by which hypotheses are proposed and subjected to experiments designed to expose weaknesses in the hypotheses.) The reason mathematics differs from this is because mathematics does not, in a pure sense, attempt to describe the physical world. Mathematical theorems are not tested against nature, but against logic. There may be much in common between mathematics and art, and since art is also difficult to define, it is difficult to discuss this relation. Certainly, there are definitions of art that would allow the inclusion of mathematics as an art. The creation of mathematics requires creativity, and I think most mathematicians would agree that some constructs are more beautiful than others, so that there is an aesthetic aspect to mathematics. In any case, mathematics certainly is a human endeavor involving the exchange of ideas between human beings. It has been around for millennia, and shows no signs of abatement. These ideas are debatable and reflect my own personal opinion. Also, this response is really too short to explore all the aspects your question addresses. -Doctor Ceeks, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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