FOM: New Subscribers!

Harvey Friedman friedman at
Tue Dec 16 16:27:38 EST 1997

I have just sent this message to a select group of distinguished colleagues
in various areas of research. If you have any suitable students or
colleagues in mind who would be interested in subscribing either to the
regular fom or the fom-digest, please send this message along. Thank you.

Greetings. I have addressed this e-mail to a small group of selected
distinguished scholars who I know are interested in the foundations of

Earlier in the year, while I was having some extensive e-mail
correspondence with several logicians about the status of the foundations
of mathematics, it occurred to me that there might be significant interest
in involving a wide group of researchers on an interactive basis. After
discussions with Steve Simpson, he and I founded the FOM (foundations of
mathematics) automated mailing list just a few months ago. Steve did all of
the thoughtful work to make this a reality, and serves as moderator in
order to ensure that the list continues to operate at the highest possible
level, intellectually and operationally.

You may have been approached to become a subscriber, or may have
unsubscribed because of the heavy volume of mail. Steve has solved this
problem by

1) creating an option to receive postings bundled in one message about once
a day; and
2) keeping an up to date archive of all postings (as text files) that is
easy to access on all computer systems.

This means that you can avoid having your mailbox cluttered, and also
feel that you can throw away any mail without losing access to it. I
personally prefer to stay on the regular FOM distribution list since I
sometimes enjoy getting into the real time interchange, and have
mastered my delete key.

In just a few months, FOM has succeeded beyond our wildest
expectations. There are currently 237 subscribers from all over the
world, representing diverse interests and viewpoints in mathematics,
philosophy, and computer science. There are also large numbers of
student subscribers.  There have already been 531 postings by 46 of
the subscribers covering a huge range of topics.

The postings have been of several kinds:

1. Discussion of crucial issues concerning the foundations of mathematics
including its status and importance in the mathematical and wider
2. Discussions of books and articles written by others.
4. Active direct debate on various issues surrounding the foundations of
5. Discussion of the scope of foundations of mathematics.
6. Technical problems and solutions, many of which are suitable for Ph.D.
7. Discussion of major developments in foundations of mathematics in
specific terms.

There are plans by several of the current subscribers to further
increase the utility of FOM for Ph.D. students, including plans to
critique the various areas of mathematical logic. The list has
maintained an overall positive tone, where criticism is normally
accompanied by constructive suggestions. We expect this to continue as
FOM progresses.

It has been clear to everyone involved that this is proving to be a
unique resource which is totally unlike anything in existence - not
only in the area of mathematical logic and the foundations of
mathematics, but also (as far as we can tell) in mathematics
generally. In fact, it is quite possibly becoming the most successful
electronically interactive interchange of original ideas (not
manuscripts or data!) by full time professional scholars of
distinction worldwide in any substantial academic subject
whatsoever. And we have only just begun.

And this is why I am writing to you now. We need you in order for FOM
to achieve its early promise. With the advent of easy real time
electronic communication, professional intellectual life is no longer
just a matter of formal publications. It is the ideas and the
influence of these ideas that really count. And FOM is not just idle
conversation. Everything is permanently archived in electronic
form. As FOM matures, future scholars can be expected to refer to it,
excerpt from it, annotate it, learn from it, and summarize it in
various ways. This is the wave of the future, and we are on the
absolute cutting edge.

If you wish to subscribe, or subscribe a student, or obtain further
information such as the current list of subscribers, please access

or write to simpson at


The mailing list started 9/25/97, and has 237 current subscribers as
of 12/15/97. The moderator is Steve Simpson at
simpson at The subscribers are divided between two lists:
"fom-digest" and the regular "fom" list.  Subscribers to fom-digest
get mail only in individual packets containing many postings
(currently 40K byte packets). Regular fom subscribers receive mail as
it is posted by the moderator. There is generally a short delay
between sending a posting to fom at and it appearing on FOM.

Subscribers are under no obligation to post messages. Most subscribers
have not yet posted messages.

All postings are archived at

You are welcome to visit this site to download individual postings in
text format. You can also get further information about FOM from

The list has been extremely active, and there have been

23 postings during 9/25-10/2/97;
105 postings during 10/9-10/31/97;
238 postings during 11/1-11/28/97;
165 postings during 11/29-12/15/97.

For your information, here is a list of the *authors* of e-mail
postings as of 12/15/97:

John Baldwin
Jon Barwise
Sam Buss
John Case
G. Davie
Martin Davis
Michael Detlefsen
Michel Eytan
Solomon Feferman
Walter Felscher
Stephen Ferguson
Torkel Franzen
Harvey Friedman
Julio Gonzalez
Dan Halpern
Reuben Hersh
Apollo Hogan
Aki Kanamori
Vladimir Kanovei
Richard Laver
Moshe Machover
David Marker
A.R.D. Mathias
Josef Mattes
Colin McLarty
Charles Parsons
Anand Pillay
Vaughn Pratt
Jeff Remmel
Judy Roitman
David Ross
Vladimir Sazonov
Jerry Seligman
Stewart Shapiro
Joseph Shipman
Steve Simpson
Rick Sommer
Lee Stanley
John Steel
Mark Steiner
William Tait
Neil Tennant
Michael Thayer
Robert Tragesser
Lou van den Dries
Jeffrey Zucker

The topics under discussion include the following:

1. Foundationalism and anti-foundationalism.
2. Status of foundations of mathematics.
3. Atiyah's Bakerian lecture.
4. The ignorance of Bourbaki.
5. Crises in foundations.
6. Applied model theory as foundations of mathematics.
7. Basic concepts and structuralism.
8. Hilbert's tenth problem.
9. Lang's conjectures.
10. Reverse mathematics.
11. Golden age of foundations.
12. Arcaneness in mathematics.
13. Faltings' theorem.
14. Notion of algorithm.
15. Accessibility to barbers.
16. Categorical foundations.
17. General intellectual interest.
18. Complete theory of everything.
19. High aspirations for foundations of mathematics.
20. Necessary truths in arithmetic.
21. Foundational Completeness.
22. Computability and physics.
23. Groups.
24. Hilbert's 5th problem.
25. Foundations of geometry.
26. Chow's lemma.
27. Chu spaces.
28. Accessible expositions of mathematics.
29. Infinitesimals and nonstandard analysis.
30. Definability of infinitesimals.
31. Feasible numbers.
32. Scott sets.
33. Godel and infinitesimals.
34. Formal power series.
35. Intuitions about infinitesimals.
36. Hersh - Gardner writings.
37. Leibniz and infinitesimals.
38. Keisler's book.
39. Does mathematics need new axioms.
40. Simplicity.
41. Schemes.
42. Monomathematics
43. Nonstandard arithmetic.
44. Scientifically applicable mathematics.
45. Relevance logics.
46. Mathematical modelling.
47. Significance of inconsistencies.
48. Large cardinals needed/appreciated.
49. Structures prior to homomorphisms.
50. Proofs of infinity of primes.
51. Status of the continuum hypothesis.
52. Frege's theory of real numbers.
53. Views of Godel's incompleteness theorems.
54. Inherent vagueness and CH.
55. Nonstandard models.
56. Cantor and Hilbert on CH.
57. Undecidability.
58. The Cinq lettres.
59. The Borel universe.
60. Pathology.
61. Banach Tarski paradox.
62. Elementary proofs.
63. Dirichlet and Wiles theorems.
64. Independent axiomatizations.
65. Aristotle and methodological purity.
66. Borelian mathematics.
67. Lakatos and philosophy of math.
68. Paradoxical decompositions.
69. Foundations of math and mathematical logic.
70. Measures of semi algebraic sets.
71. General intellectual interest/challenges.

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