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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 11:05 am
Welcome back, Polymath!!
And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him...And Peter turned unto the people that followed him and said: Ye shall now see a great and marvellous wonder. And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed. (The Acts of Peter, 9)
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 1:22 pm
Big numbers are sexy!
Hi polymath!
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm
(This post was last modified: April 9, 2019 at 6:59 pm by polymath257.)
(April 9, 2019 at 6:18 am)robvalue Wrote: I find the whole thing to be semantics. If we're dealing with reality, then of course we can have a potentially unbounded and growing value, which is always finite but "potentially infinite". However, in a purely abstract mathematical setting, it’s easy to create infinite sets using particular rules. One can certainly analyse whether the results are internally consistent or not according to those rules, but the set of elements is infinite regardless.
It can be proved that the size of the set is larger than any number, and so it is infinite. The set doesn’t have to "grow" to produce all the elements, they are simply defined into abstract "existence". I suppose you could get into semantics about how exactly the elements are defined, and if that’s done inductively, then you could say the set "never finishes". Well, of course, but this is imposing an artificial limit on a process which doesn’t involve time passing in the first place. You have defined every element in the set, and there are an infinite number of them.
It is fascinating about relative infinities, as has been mentioned with the real and natural (or rational) numbers. I remember being told at uni about how if you compare the density of all the real and rational numbers in any particular interval (say between 0 and 1), the real numbers actually take up all the space. They are infinitely more numerous (thus a higher cardinality). There is no way of placing the real numbers in a list so they can be counted. You will always be missing elements between any list entrants.
We can go further, but some care is required.
One problem in set theory is that the collection of *all* sets cannot be a set. It is what is known as a proper class. In a sense, it is 'too big' to be a set.
So, not only is the set of real numbers a larger infinity than the set of natural numbers (which is, in a sense, the smallest possible infinity), there is a whole hierarchy of sizes of infinite sets.
But not only is the number of possible cardinalities infinite, even uncountably so, it turns out that the collection of all cardinalities is a proper class: it is larger than any set.
There is an analogy between proper classes in standard set theory and infinite sets in finitistic mathematics. In both cases, the collections are 'too big' to fit into the axioms chosen. And,, in both cases, it is possible to extend the axiom system to allow discussion of these large collections. So, ordinary set theory is an extension of finitistic mathematics where infinite sets are legitimate objects of study. And, there are axiom systems (GodelBernays, for example) that allow discussion of proper classes as objects of the system.
The problem is that this only forms a new hierarchy: once we add classes, we want to take collections of classes and then collections of those objects, etc.
This ultimately lead to Russell's theory of types. Most mathematicians do not go this far, being content with sets or, in some cases, classes.
(April 9, 2019 at 10:32 am)Fireball Wrote: I'm curious what sort of insights are gained by using finitist logic?
Well, there are a lot of issues surrounding proof theory and Godel's incompleteness results (and issues such as Turing machines) that reside naturally in a finitistic situation. It is of some interest to see just how few assumptions are required to get the Godel results, for example. And, it is known that systems much weaker than the natural numbers are enough (Godel proves his results about the natural numbers). For example, the 'Robinson naturals' is a weaker system of axioms that turns out to be enough to get most of Godel's version of model theory to go through.
For most mathematicians, though, the finitistic realm is far too constraining and the possibility to talk about infinite sets underlies a lot of calculus and thereby most of modern mathematics.
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 9:28 pm
0.999... = 1
How do finitests define that? 0.999... = 1 because, as I understand it, that there is no real number that you can insert between 0.999... and 1 which means they're the same number. There are simple proofs for that and rigorous ones.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool."  Richard P. Feynman
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 9:44 pm
(April 9, 2019 at 9:28 pm)Sal Wrote: 0.999... = 1
How do finitests define that? 0.999... = 1 because, as I understand it, that there is no real number that you can insert between 0.999... and 1 which means they're the same number. There are simple proofs for that and rigorous ones.
Well, finitists have difficulty defining the real numbers. At most they can define the computable reals. Decimal expansions are also problematic.
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm
(This post was last modified: April 9, 2019 at 9:48 pm by Jehanne.)
(April 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm)polymath257 Wrote: For most mathematicians, though, the finitistic realm is far too constraining and the possibility to talk about infinite sets underlies a lot of calculus and thereby most of modern mathematics.
I wonder how finitists would view Turning Machines? Or, for that matter, the Continuum Hypothesis?
And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him...And Peter turned unto the people that followed him and said: Ye shall now see a great and marvellous wonder. And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed. (The Acts of Peter, 9)
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 9, 2019 at 10:03 pm
(This post was last modified: April 9, 2019 at 10:05 pm by Fireball.)
(April 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm)polymath257 Wrote: (April 9, 2019 at 6:18 am)robvalue Wrote: I find the whole thing to be semantics. If we're dealing with reality, then of course we can have a potentially unbounded and growing value, which is always finite but "potentially infinite". However, in a purely abstract mathematical setting, it’s easy to create infinite sets using particular rules. One can certainly analyse whether the results are internally consistent or not according to those rules, but the set of elements is infinite regardless.
It can be proved that the size of the set is larger than any number, and so it is infinite. The set doesn’t have to "grow" to produce all the elements, they are simply defined into abstract "existence". I suppose you could get into semantics about how exactly the elements are defined, and if that’s done inductively, then you could say the set "never finishes". Well, of course, but this is imposing an artificial limit on a process which doesn’t involve time passing in the first place. You have defined every element in the set, and there are an infinite number of them.
It is fascinating about relative infinities, as has been mentioned with the real and natural (or rational) numbers. I remember being told at uni about how if you compare the density of all the real and rational numbers in any particular interval (say between 0 and 1), the real numbers actually take up all the space. They are infinitely more numerous (thus a higher cardinality). There is no way of placing the real numbers in a list so they can be counted. You will always be missing elements between any list entrants.
We can go further, but some care is required.
One problem in set theory is that the collection of *all* sets cannot be a set. It is what is known as a proper class. In a sense, it is 'too big' to be a set.
So, not only is the set of real numbers a larger infinity than the set of natural numbers (which is, in a sense, the smallest possible infinity), there is a whole hierarchy of sizes of infinite sets.
But not only is the number of possible cardinalities infinite, even uncountably so, it turns out that the collection of all cardinalities is a proper class: it is larger than any set.
There is an analogy between proper classes in standard set theory and infinite sets in finitistic mathematics. In both cases, the collections are 'too big' to fit into the axioms chosen. And,, in both cases, it is possible to extend the axiom system to allow discussion of these large collections. So, ordinary set theory is an extension of finitistic mathematics where infinite sets are legitimate objects of study. And, there are axiom systems (GodelBernays, for example) that allow discussion of proper classes as objects of the system.
The problem is that this only forms a new hierarchy: once we add classes, we want to take collections of classes and then collections of those objects, etc.
This ultimately lead to Russell's theory of types. Most mathematicians do not go this far, being content with sets or, in some cases, classes.
(April 9, 2019 at 10:32 am)Fireball Wrote: I'm curious what sort of insights are gained by using finitist logic?
Well, there are a lot of issues surrounding proof theory and Godel's incompleteness results (and issues such as Turing machines) that reside naturally in a finitistic situation. It is of some interest to see just how few assumptions are required to get the Godel results, for example. And, it is known that systems much weaker than the natural numbers are enough (Godel proves his results about the natural numbers). For example, the 'Robinson naturals' is a weaker system of axioms that turns out to be enough to get most of Godel's version of model theory to go through.
For most mathematicians, though, the finitistic realm is far too constraining and the possibility to talk about infinite sets underlies a lot of calculus and thereby most of modern mathematics.
Thanks! I took about 34 units of math at the university, but if I were to compare it to my understanding of French, it would sadly be in the "La plume de ma tante" category.
I do like the idea of using a minimal system to see what could be proved from it, though. It strikes me that having to use the minimum necessary number of assumptions to prove something would be somewhat elegant.
If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 10, 2019 at 8:42 am
(April 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm)Jehanne Wrote: (April 9, 2019 at 6:54 pm)polymath257 Wrote: For most mathematicians, though, the finitistic realm is far too constraining and the possibility to talk about infinite sets underlies a lot of calculus and thereby most of modern mathematics.
I wonder how finitists would view Turning Machines? Or, for that matter, the Continuum Hypothesis?
Turing machines are finitistic devices and are an integral part of finitistic math.
Finitists tend to view the CH as nonsense.
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 10, 2019 at 8:59 am
(April 10, 2019 at 8:42 am)polymath257 Wrote: (April 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm)Jehanne Wrote: I wonder how finitists would view Turning Machines? Or, for that matter, the Continuum Hypothesis?
Turing machines are finitistic devices and are an integral part of finitistic math.
Finitists tend to view the CH as nonsense.
They have tapes of infinite length, though, at least abstractly:
Wikipedia  Turning machine
Do finitists reject Cantor's diagonalization proofs, namely, that Alephnaught is the smallest infinite set, followed by Alephone, etc.?
(Sorry to be asking you this, but I don't know of any finitists whom I can ask!)
And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him...And Peter turned unto the people that followed him and said: Ye shall now see a great and marvellous wonder. And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed. (The Acts of Peter, 9)
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RE: Mathematicians who are finitists.
April 11, 2019 at 10:48 am
(April 10, 2019 at 8:59 am)Jehanne Wrote: (April 10, 2019 at 8:42 am)polymath257 Wrote: Turing machines are finitistic devices and are an integral part of finitistic math.
Finitists tend to view the CH as nonsense.
They have tapes of infinite length, though, at least abstractly:
Wikipedia  Turning machine
Do finitists reject Cantor's diagonalization proofs, namely, that Alephnaught is the smallest infinite set, followed by Alephone, etc.?
(Sorry to be asking you this, but I don't know of any finitists whom I can ask!)
Well, strict finitists only have finite sets, so the question of the sizes of infinite sets simply doesn't arise. So, individual numbers can be considered, any any finite set of numbers, but the collection of all natural numbers is rejected. Since rational numbers are essentially reduced pairs of natural numbers (think fractions), a finitist can also talk about natural numbers. But it becomes much harder to even talk about real numbers, let alone the collection of *all* real numbers. So the diagonalization argument, as usually seen, doesn't abide by finitist principles.
They will admit the possibility of adding a new element to any already existing set, but not to allow the union over all such processes to get an actual infinite set.
It is possible to formulate Turing machines in such a way that the tape is only *potentially* infinite as opposed to actually infinite. The idea is that a new cell is added at either end if required. In this way, the collection of cells is finite at every step in time. This is how a typical finitist would speak of Turing machines. And, again, this is their bread and butterfinite state machines, recursive functions, etc.
