Standing by for a correction to our view of the physical

I’ve spent a number of years using this blog to highlight the way that mathematical things seem to operate in very natural occurrences like the way our brains work, the way ants navigate, the way plants calculate an efficient consumption rate of their stored starch, the collective behavior of insect colonies, flocks, schools, and […]

Mathematics says, “here is a point of view.”

Category theory in mathematics is a relatively new and provocative branch of mathematics that has found many faithful followers and some critics. By relatively new I mean that category theory notions were first introduced only as far back as 1945. Criticism of the theory is often related to the level of abstraction it requires. […]

Building objects from relations: physics and the monad

Quanta Magazine recently published an interview with physicist and author Lee Smolin. Smolin talked about his most recent book, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum, and the influence that Gottfried Leibniz, has had on the perspective that Smolin most recently adopted. Seventeenth century polymath, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, known for […]

A mathematician’s playground

Recently, I had the opportunity, to listen to Vered Rom-Kedar give a public lecture entitled Billiard is not just a game. Until now, I haven’t thought much about this expanding branch of mathematics but, for me, the lecture highlighted some of the reasons I find mathematics so captivating, and it encouraged me to keep […]

Journeying in and out

When ecently reminded of the images in Catholic texts and prayers, I considered, again, my hunch that mathematics could somehow help connect unrelated aspects our experience, in particular counterintuitive religious images and familiar sensory experience. I am not suggesting that mathematics would explain these images, but more that it could be used to encourage, perhaps […]

Spaces upon spaces – topology and slum conditions

I didn’t know anything about topology before I entered graduate school, but I continue to see it as one of the more provocative specialties in mathematics and an important transition of thought. Most definitions of the subject describe it as the study of the properties of objects that are preserved through deformations like stretching and […]

Prejudice in an abstract world

I was struck today by the title of an article in Science News that read, Before his early death, Riemann freed geometry from Euclidean prejudices. The piece, by science writer Tom Siegfried, was no doubt inspired by the recent claim from award-winning mathematician Michael Atiyah that he has proved the long standing Riemann hypothesis, one […]

To be or not to be abstract

I’m not completely sure I understand where my desire to grasp the value of abstractions is taking me, but as I think about mathematics, and more recent trends in the sciences, I keep wanting to get further and further behind what our symbolic reasoning is actually doing, and how it’s doing it. I have this […]

Abstractions: What’s happening with them?

We all generally know the meaning of abstraction. We all have some opinion, for example, about the value of abstract painting. And I’ve heard from many that mathematics is too abstract to be understood or even interesting. (But I must admit, it is exactly this about mathematics that keeps me so captivated). An abstraction is […]

The fluency of geometry

My thoughts started jumping around today, trying to land on what it was that I found so fascinating about a recent article in Quanta Magazine. This is one of the statements that got me going:

…Numbers emerging from one kind of geometric world matched exactly with very different kinds of numbers from a very different […]