EV HSC Higher Mathematics 1 Suggestion Question 2020-2. Mathematicians seek patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians solve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proof. The research needed to solve mathematical problems can take years, or even centuries of investigation supported. Since the pioneering work of Giuseppe Peano (1858-1932), David Hilbert (1862-1943), and others on the axiomatic systems by the end of the 19th century, it became customary to show that mathematical research establishing the truth by rigorous deduction from axioms of appropriately chosen and definitions. When these structures are good mathematical models of real phenomena, mathematical reasoning can give an overview or predictions on nature.
EV HSC Higher Mathematics 1 Suggestion Question 2020-2
Model Question No. 2
Mathematics has no generally accepted definition. Aristotle defined mathematics as “the science of quantity” and this definition prevailed until the 18th century. In the 19th century, when the study of mathematics increased in rigor and began to address abstract topics such as group theory and projective geometry, which have no clear-cut relation to quantity and measurement, mathematicians and philosophers began to propose a variety of new definitions. Three leading types of definition of mathematics today are called logicist, intuitionist, and formalist, each reflecting a different philosophical school of thought. All have severe problems, none has widespread acceptance, and no reconciliation seems possible.
An early definition of mathematics in terms of logic was Benjamin Peirce’s “the science that draws necessary conclusions” (1870) In the Principia Mathematica, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead advanced the philosophical program known as logicism, and attempted to prove that all mathematical concepts, statements, and principles can be defined and proved entirely in terms of symbolic logic. A logicist definition of mathematics is Russell’s “All Mathematics is Symbolic Logic” (1903).
Intuitionist definitions, developing from the philosophy of mathematician L. E. J. Brouwer, identify mathematics with certain mental phenomena. An example of an intuitionist definition is “Mathematics is the mental activity which consists in carrying out constructs one after the other.” A peculiarity of intuitionism is that it rejects some mathematical ideas considered valid according to other definitions. In particular, while other philosophies of mathematics allow objects that can be proved to exist even though they cannot be constructed, intuitionism allows only mathematical objects that one can actually construct.
Many philosophers believe that mathematics is not experimentally falsifiable, and thus not a science according to the definition of Karl Popper. However, in the 1930s Gödel’s incompleteness theorems convinced many mathematicians[who?] that mathematics cannot be reduced to logic alone, and Karl Popper concluded that “most mathematical theories are, like those of physics and biology, hypothetical-deductive: pure mathematics, therefore, turns out to be much closer to the natural sciences whose hypotheses are conjectures, than it seemed even recently.” Other thinkers, notably Imre Lakatos, have applied a version of falsificationism to mathematics itself.
An alternative view is that certain scientific fields (such as theoretical physics) are mathematics with axioms that are intended to correspond to reality. Mathematics shares much in common with many fields in the physical sciences, notably the exploration of the logical consequences of assumptions. Intuition and experimentation also play a role in the formulation of conjectures in both mathematics and the (other) sciences. Experimental mathematics continues to grow in importance within mathematics, and computation and simulation are playing an increasing role in both the sciences and mathematics.
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