[FOM] Mathematics ***is*** formalising of our thought and intuition
Vaughan Pratt
pratt at cs.stanford.edu
Sat Jun 5 18:19:11 EDT 2010
Regarding what mathematicians and physicists are up to, a more neutral
and simpler situation is tac -tac-toe or noughts and crosses, vs. the
game of forming a set of three numbers that sum to 15 by taking turns
naming a previously unnamed nonzero decimal digit. These are the "same"
game via the obvious translation using the square
816
357
492
Now one could imagine visually challenged but highly numerate children
playing the second game for so long that they'd developed reliable
strategies not only for avoiding ever losing but even beating beginners
quite reliably. Yet an expert player of this game might well be
reliably beaten at tic tac toe by a tic tac toe expert, for want of the
isomorphism.
Yet one might argue, via the isomorphism, that the numbers expert is
nonetheless a tic tac toe expert, her abysmal performance at the game
notwithstanding.
To what extent does the culture gap between mathematics and physics
contain elements of this situation?
Vaughan Pratt
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