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A Question Of Priority

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Posted by Jim Bergquist on February 15, 2001 08:05:15 UTC

I'd like to throw in a philosophical question. Which is the dependent: mathematics or the world? It seems to me that our mathematics is dependent on the universe or what we see of it. I do not think that the universe is inherently mathmatical. Mathematics refers to data and methods for manipulating it such as algorithms or functions. The data exists in a context and is interpreted by means of a theory. What we theorize about the universe does not change what actually is. We try to capture as much of the existing universe with the mathematics that we can create. It is the fit to the universe that gives much of the value to our mathematics.

Much of the universe is beyond known mathematics. Take probability, noise, and chaos for instance. It is the unpredicability that is interesting and yet we can find patterns that are measurable. But still, there is a certain volitility to the universe that we inhabit. The universe appears to behave with incomprehensible wildness. It may be that what we see is biased in favor of volitility. Change is necessary for communication and we are programmed to be sensitive to change.

What we don't know of the universe is more interesting or challenging than what is known. It is a problem without a solution or, maybe more correctly, an incompletely specified problem.

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