## Friday, August 08, 2008

### William Thurston

Xianfeng David Gu and Shing-Tung Yau
To a topologist, a rabbit is the same as a sphere. Neither has a hole. Longitude and latitude lines on the rabbit allow mathematicians to map it onto different forms while preserving information.

William Thurston of Cornell, the author of a deeper conjecture that includes PoincarĂ©’s and that is now apparently proved, said, “Math is really about the human mind, about how people can think effectively, and why curiosity is quite a good guide,” explaining that curiosity is tied in some way with intuition.

“You don’t see what you’re seeing until you see it,” Dr. Thurston said, “but when you do see it, it lets you see many other things.”
Elusive Proof, Elusive Prover: A New Mathematical Mystery

Some of us are of course interested in how we can assign the relevance to perceptions the deeper recognition of the processes of nature. How we get there and where we believe they come from. As a layman I am always interested in this process, and of course, life's mysteries can indeed be a motivating factor. Motivating my interest about the nature of things that go unanswered and how we get there.

William Paul Thurston
(born October 30, 1946) is an American mathematician. He is a pioneer in the field of low-dimensional topology. In 1982, he was awarded the Fields medal for the depth and originality of his contributions to mathematics. He is currently a professor of mathematics and computer science at Cornell University (since 2003).

There are reasons with which I present this biography, as I did in relation to PoincarĂ© and Klein. The basis of the question remains a philosophical one for me that I question the basis of proof and intuition while considering the mathematics.

Mathematical Induction

Mathematical Induction at a given statement is true of all natural numbers. It is done by proving that the first statement in the infinite sequence of statements is true, and then proving that if any one statement in the infinite sequence of statements is true, then so is the next one.

The method can be extended to prove statements about more general well-founded structures, such as trees; this generalization, known as structural induction, is used in mathematical logic and computer science.

Mathematical induction should not be misconstrued as a form of inductive reasoning, which is considered non-rigorous in mathematics (see Problem of induction for more information). In fact, mathematical induction is a form of deductive reasoning and is fully rigorous
.

Deductive reasoning

Deductive reasoning is reasoning which uses deductive arguments to move from given statements (premises), which are assumed to be true, to conclusions, which must be true if the premises are true.[1]

The classic example of deductive reasoning, given by Aristotle, is

* All men are mortal. (major premise)
* Socrates is a man. (minor premise)
* Socrates is mortal. (conclusion)

For a detailed treatment of deduction as it is understood in philosophy, see Logic. For a technical treatment of deduction as it is understood in mathematics, see mathematical logic.

Deductive reasoning is often contrasted with inductive reasoning, which reasons from a large number of particular examples to a general rule.

Alternative to deductive reasoning is inductive reasoning. The basic difference between the two can be summarized in the deductive dynamic of logically progressing from general evidence to a particular truth or conclusion; whereas with induction the logical dynamic is precisely the reverse. Inductive reasoning starts with a particular observation that is believed to be a demonstrative model for a truth or principle that is assumed to apply generally.

Deductive reasoning applies general principles to reach specific conclusions, whereas inductive reasoning examines specific information, perhaps many pieces of specific information, to impute a general principle. By thinking about phenomena such as how apples fall and how the planets move, Isaac Newton induced his theory of gravity. In the 19th century, Adams and LeVerrier applied Newton's theory (general principle) to deduce the existence, mass, position, and orbit of Neptune (specific conclusions) from perturbations in the observed orbit of Uranus (specific data).

Deduction and Induction

Our attempt to justify our beliefs logically by giving reasons results in the "regress of reasons." Since any reason can be further challenged, the regress of reasons threatens to be an infinite regress. However, since this is impossible, there must be reasons for which there do not need to be further reasons: reasons which do not need to be proven. By definition, these are "first principles." The "Problem of First Principles" arises when we ask Why such reasons would not need to be proven. Aristotle's answer was that first principles do not need to be proven because they are self-evident, i.e. they are known to be true simply by understanding them.

Back to the lumping in of theology alongside of Atlantis. Rebel dreams, it is hard to remove one's colour once they work from a certain premise. Atheistic, or not.

Seeking such clarity would be the attempt for me, with which to approach a point of limitation in our knowledge, as we may try to explain the process of the current state of the universe, and it's shape. Such warnings are indeed appropriate to me about what we are offering for views from a theoretical standpoint.

The basis presented here is from a layman standpoint while in context of Plato's work, brings some perspective to Raphael's painting, "The School of Athens." It is a central theme for me about what the basis of Inductive and deductive processes reveals about the "infinite regress of mathematics to the point of proof."

Such clarity seeking would in my mind contrast a theoretical technician with a philosopher who had such a background. Raises the philosophical question about where such information is derived from. If ,from a Platonic standpoint, then all knowledge already exists. We just have to become aware of this knowledge? How so?

Lawrence Crowell:
The ball on the Mexican hat peak will under the smallest perturbation or fluctuation begin to fall off the peak, roll into the trough and the universe tunnels out of the vacuum or nothing to become a “something.”

Whether I attach a indication of God to this knowledge does not in any way relegate the process to such a contention of theological significance. The question remains a inductive/deductive process?

I would think philosophers should weight in on the point of inductive/deductive processes as it relates to the search for new mathematics?

Allegory of the Cave

For me this was a difficult task with which to cypher the greater contextual meaning of where such mathematics arose from. That I should implore such methods would seem to be, to me, in standing with the problems and ultimates searches for meaning about our place in the universe. Whether I believe in the "God nature of that light" should hold no atheistic interpretation to my quest for the explanations about the talk on the origins of the universe.

See:

• The Sound of Billiard Balls

• Mathematical Structure of the Universe