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Noisy Deductive Reasoning: How Humans Construct Math, and How Math Constructs Universes

Wolpert, David H. and Kinney, David (2020) Noisy Deductive Reasoning: How Humans Construct Math, and How Math Constructs Universes. [Preprint]

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Abstract

We present a computational model of mathematical reasoning according to which mathematics is a fundamentally stochastic process. That is, on our model, whether or not a given formula is deemed a theorem in some axiomatic system is not a matter of certainty, but is instead governed by a probability distribution. We then show that this framework gives a compelling account of several aspects of mathematical practice. These include: 1) the way in which mathematicians generate research programs, 2) the applicability of Bayesian models of mathematical heuristics, 3) the role of abductive reasoning in mathematics, 4) the way in which multiple proofs of a proposition can strengthen our degree of belief in that proposition, and 5) the nature of the hypothesis that there are multiple formal systems that are isomorphic to physically possible universes. Thus, by embracing a model of mathematics as not perfectly predictable, we generate a new and fruitful perspective on the epistemology and practice of mathematics.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wolpert, David H.dhw@santafe.edu
Kinney, Daviddavid.kinney@santafe.edu
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability. Springer. Ed. Anthony Aguirre, Zeeya Merali, and David Sloan. (Collection of winning essays from FQXi's 2020 Essay Contest)
Keywords: mathematical reasoning, mathematical universe hypothesis, abduction, Turing machines.
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Dr David Kinney
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2020 05:22
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2020 05:22
Item ID: 18451
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 28 October 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18451

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