FOM: Millenium Conference

Harvey Friedman friedman at
Thu Jan 13 20:39:09 EST 2000

Reply to Steiner 7:51AM 1/2/00.

>   I attended a "millenium" conference last week on the sciences in
>Jerusalem, at which two world class "core" mathematicians spoke; one on
>the last 100 years in mathematics and the other on predicting the course
>of mathematics in the future (more precisely, whether it is possible to
>predict the future of mathematics).

Since this was a very public event, and since your account of it is so
fascinating, could you please tell us who these two speakers were?

>        I found it quite interesting that neither mathematician so much
>stated a single theorem during the course of their lectures.  Unlike the
>other lectures in astrophysics, biology, physics, etc., the listeners
>could not get any information about the content of mathematics as it has
>been or will be.

This is of course very intriguing. Do you think that they thought that any
particular theorems of core mathematics would be impossible to properly
convey to this apparently extremely broad audience?

>        Instead, both mathematicians gave what amounted to lectures in
>the history of mathematics and its philosophy.  That is, both gave
>lectures out of their field of expertise.  Both lectures were
>interesting, of course, and worth hearing.

Did they perceive that history of mathematics and its philosophy had
greater general intellectual interest than core mathematics?

>        There was one exception to the nonciting of theorems in the
>BOTH lecturers mentioned Goedel's theorem!  One of them got the theorem
>The idea was that Goedel's theorem could have constricted mathematics
>but didn't.

And did they mention that single Theorem as opposed to other Theorems
because of its particuarly general intellectual interest?

>        I therefore have to agree with some of the remarks that have
>been made
>on this list, though I didn't expect to.

Could you please elaborate on this sentence, especially "therefore" and
"didn't expect to" and also which remarks do you "have to agree with"?

>        Another remarkable fact is that one of the speakers spoke about
>interconnectedness of the various field of mathematics.  After
>mentioning only Goedel's theorem as a mathematical theorem, he did not
>even mention logic, to say nothing of f.o.m, as a possible mathematical

Do you think that this speaker thought that nothing of general intellectual
interest and significance has been done in f.o.m. since Godel?

> I should mention what is well known to readers of this list,
>that the Hebrew University has a number of famous logicians, who were in
>the audience, but didn't react.
>        Comments?

Presumably Hrushovski, Levy, Magidor, Shelah, etcetera?

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