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Poll: Was mathematics invented or discovered? (19 member(s) have cast votes)

Was mathematics invented or discovered?

  1. Invented (10 votes [52.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 52.63%

  2. Discovered (9 votes [47.37%])

    Percentage of vote: 47.37%

  3. Not Sure (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#21 dfx

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:17 PM

QUOTE(nathanm @ Jan 16 2006, 06:47 PM)
pf?

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physicsforums. The parallel to languages is great in some senses... but even languages are simply an aesthetic "invention" which are a result of man's faculty of communication developing over the ages. Math on the other hand describes existing relationships in nature. You can't suddenly introduce your own equation - well you could but only if it fits in. Ok I'm losing it.

#22 Nathan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:22 PM

i think i understand :S

#23 bred

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:24 PM

QUOTE(dfx @ Jan 16 2006, 05:42 PM)
Ah.. a felllow PF junkie. wink.gif

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There's also a thread on TSR.
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#24 Nathan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:45 PM

QUOTE(bred @ Jan 17 2006, 04:24 PM)
QUOTE(dfx @ Jan 16 2006, 05:42 PM)
Ah.. a felllow PF junkie. wink.gif

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There's also a thread on TSR.

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Yeah thats where i stole it from whistling.gif

#25 broughy

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 04:52 PM

maths is the bane of my life. i despise the subject. i do think its useful though. well, certain parts of it are. trig is useful in engineering, as is (much as i hate to say this!) calculus in physical sciences.

as for whether it was invented or discovered.....i don't really know!
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#26 bred

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 05:27 PM

QUOTE(nathanm @ Jan 17 2006, 04:45 PM)
Yeah thats where i stole it from  whistling.gif

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Thought so.
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#27 Paul

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 10:56 PM

A simple thought has just popped up in my head -

if this world was one without language, would there be Maths? Although Maths can be interpreted without words, everything in Maths has a name. But without a language, it wouldnt have a name, so there would be no Maths. Which backs my view up of Maths being invented the same way that a language would be invented.

Hmmmm, I dunno if you peeps get wot am tryin to say, but it makes sense in my head!
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#28 Nathan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:07 PM

QUOTE(Paul @ Jan 17 2006, 10:56 PM)
A simple thought has just popped up in my head -

if this world was one without language, would there be Maths? Although Maths can be interpreted without words, everything in Maths has a name. But without a language, it wouldnt have a name, so there would be no Maths. Which backs my view up of Maths being invented the same way that a language would be invented.

Hmmmm, I dunno if you peeps get wot am tryin to say, but it makes sense in my head!

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I don't think there would be maths if there was no language because maths is usually spoken or written, both of which are forms of language (i think :S)


#29 bred

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:11 PM

Maths is a language though, in a way.
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#30 Paul

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:13 PM

Well, if Maths is a language then it must have been invented!
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#31 bred

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:17 PM

I meant in the same sense that Physics is a language; i.e. there are laws in Physics and Mathematics which predate humankind.

Edit: Paul, "shit" goes quite well in the sloganiser. It just said "The Gods made shit" and "There's lots of fun in shit" - heh.
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#32 Paul

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:32 PM

lol bred

yeh, good point bout the laws that predate human kind part. Is there laws in Maths that predate human kind though?
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#33 bred

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:41 PM

Well one dinosaur and another dinosaur equalled two dinosaurs, right?! :/
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#34 Shaun

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:41 PM

I think maths is both discovered and invented. Obviously the notation used is an invention, but the ideas for example, of rate of change (differentiation) always exists. It is hard to explain. Everything in maths exists right now - it just hasn't been discovered yet. I don't believe maths to be a man-made invention.

i.e. we call the stuff we breathe 'air'. Air always exists, but it was only given a name when we realised that we actually breathed stuff in. The same goes with maths. It always exists but sections in maths are only named when we realise the exist.

#35 Nathan

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 11:58 PM

QUOTE(bred @ Jan 17 2006, 11:41 PM)
Well one dinosaur and another dinosaur equalled two dinosaurs, right?! :/

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so you're saying it went from 1+1=2 and then just progressed? unsure.gif


paul, i agree that shit goes well in the sloganiser...its at "just shit" at the mo laugh.gif

#36 bred

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 12:17 AM

I think most of the laws of maths were discovered by humans but that they are timeless. We can't really say if they were discovered by other animal species before humans, can we?!
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#37 Paul

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 12:30 PM

There has been 1 point lingering in the back of my mind that I haven't previoulsy been able to get across.

But after some research I can!

Maths wasn't to be until the first Mathematicians invented it. What Shaun says, "it always exists" - in a way it has. But had it not been invented, then it wouldnt have previously existed. Here's a quote that sums it all up

"Mathematics is a tool, a model.
It is something that we can use to describe or model parts of reality, or
any other system based on quantifiable things. Mathematics can be used to model finance, logic, even color. Mathematics itself did not exist before the first mathematicians. What was discovered was how to mold the model to fit reality. What was invented was the model itself. Mathematics was invented. How to use mathematics was discovered."



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#38 bred

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:16 PM

I think "invented" is a rather misleading term to use. Sure, mathematical formulae were created by humans to explain stuff, but the formulae would still hold true even if humans had not discovered it and published it in the form of symbols on paper.
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