Sometime ago I made this poll after reading Einstein’s remark “How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?”
I was happy to see that some of you voted. Thank you for your support. So, I wanted to tell you that so far the votes are 77% for discovered and 23% for invented.
This kind of problem/question is in fact extremely old and scientists thought about it and tried to give an exact answer. But, in fact an exact answer doesn’t exist. There are just believers. Some consider math to be an invention, and some consider math to be discovered. In the history, there were periods when people considered that every time they were doing mathematics, they were in fact discovering something that was already there; and periods when they believed that they were inventing more methods and tools to help them write what their mind was thinking. Here is an interesting video that explains more :
Just this week I was talking with one of my teachers about this question and he gave me a nice statistics from his classes. It seems that the students that are doing pure mathematics (or just theory, as we call it) are more inclined to say that math is in fact discovered, they strongly believe that math is everywhere around us and we need to just open our eyes to see it. Also, the students that do applied math or study other subjects that imply math, such as computer science, engineering and physics, believe that mathematics is invented by humans to help them evolve; for them math is just the tool that helps them create/ invent/ evolve.
Doing pure mathematics at university, I am more in the ‘discovered’ category, but I also understand the reasons behind the ‘invented’ concept. My decision to consider mathematics to be discovered, and not invented, goes deep in my beliefs about the creation of the world and also involves my dreamy personality. I believe that around us are to many patterns, to many hidden numbers, equation for it to be invented by the human brain. It seems like all the chaos has a mathematical order in it, and it’s not just our brain that wants to do something special. Improving our understanding of the world around us is probably going to show us more math secrets. Also, other sciences are there to be discovered and understood better. Thus, when we will have the ability to create a whole new world from nothing, I believe that THEN and ONLY THEN we will have the power to say if all this was invented or discovered.
Thank you for your support and cooperation so far! Any feedback is appreciated so use the like and share buttons! Also, the pool is still open, and you can still vote. Also let me know what is your opinion about this. Do you consider math to be an invention of the human mind?
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