You may think Yes Minister is a comedy. I know it's a documentary - Peter Lilley Wed 14 Nov 2007

RSS Feed

Edited by Mike Magee Phone +44 208 248 2800

Published by Incisive Media Investments Ltd.

Terms and Conditions of use.

To advertise in Europe e-mail here

To advertise in Asia email here.

To advertise in North America email here.

Join the INQbot Mail List for a weekly guide to our news stories: Subscribe/unsubscribe here.

Mathematics rediscovers the scientific method

In open source software

IN AN OPINION published by the American Mathematical Society, David Joyner and William Stein argue that the use of closed, proprietary mathematical software is fundamentally incompatible with the standards of mathematical proof.

They note that at least one published article on mathematical theory has relied upon the use of proprietary software to deduce various mathematical facts. They see a disconnect in this practice for the checkability of mathematical reasonings, up to and including the proofs of new mathematical theorems. They write:

"Increasingly, proprietary software and the algorithms used are an essential part of mathematical proofs. To quote J. Neubüser, 'with this situation two of the most basic rules of conduct in mathematics are violated: In mathematics information is passed on free of charge and everything is laid open for checking.'"

It's somewhat astonishing to contemplate that mathematicians even got so lazy as to trust the inner workings of closed software algorithms, but perhaps all it proves is that they're human too, after all. µ

L'INQ
(pdf) Notices of the American Mathematical Society

Comments

Mathematicians=frustrated people...

The majority of them are just frustrated people used to talk about pure nonsense sold as it was something unique and special. The majority of mathematicians don't have a clue about how algorithms work in the real world, they never worked on something real, they keep discussing of fantasies and never worked on real products, not just coding.
This happens worldwide. There is a myth of mathematicians being so smart and excellent at everything, that's just a myth, marketing hype that is good for tv series like Numbers maybe but in the real world, when you got to know how things really work and need to be adapted in order to function properly, you know that you have to deal with a lot of nonsense and thousands of just unusable formulas written by mathematicians on books that no one will ever be able to use. Mathematicians can waste their time but there are people that need to get the job done and can't waste theirs while reading mathematical garbage that just doesn't make any sense and/or is found out to be pretty flawed.
So, no, closed source and closed formulas, hidden formulas and algorithms is something that must be protected because it usually means that if there is a need to hide those mathematical formulas and theories it means that they have been used in practice, they are known to be useful and not a waste of time, so they are valuable and must be protected. Why should anyone be able to make a profit out of the hard work of a few ?
posted by : Joerg, 24 October 2007

Joerg....

Jeorg.... Is "Numbers" like NumberWang? If so, I wanna see it!
posted by : krs360, 24 October 2007

do you hate mathematics Joerg ?

mathematics is not "Numbers".

the intention is not to criticize mathematica or their commercial interests. it is about proofs/claims which have to be verifiable and cannot be inherently closed source.

posted by : ra, 24 October 2007

"talk about pure nonsense sold as it was something unique and special"

Imaginary numbers are quite practical, actually. Take a few college math courses and you'll see that.
Get to complex analysis and then you can talk.

Onto the real issue:

As of now, I know of no open-source software that can compete with Mathematica. Until the open-sauce community provides something of its caliber, it will continue to be used widely.
posted by : Trevor, 24 October 2007

open processors

are they used open, prooved processors?
posted by : pce, 24 October 2007

Do you even have a clue what you're talking about?

"The majority of mathematicians don't have a clue about how algorithms work in the real world"
Joerg, the majority of people don't have a clue about how mathematicians work in real world. I'd like to see your average stock exchange/investment bank/insurance firm abstracting themselves from "mathematical garbage" and still being able to function. If you need that job done, just hire a bloody mathematician and stop whining about your lack of understanding.
posted by : MaxS, 24 October 2007

Joerg?

Joerg - you sound like someone who flunked highschool maths and feel insecure about it.
posted by : Leonard Oiler, 24 October 2007

Jeorg is a monkey

Joerg please don't open your mouth anymore...Mathmatics lays the foundation for all quantative study.
If some mathematician hadn't come up an abstract for binary number computation ( ie DeMorgan Laws..etc..) then we wouldn't have computers...Everything except God himself ( maybe?) can be described through a quantative analysis using mathematics. Just because its incredibly complicated and you can't understand it does not mean it is jibberish. I've studied discrete mathematics, Partial differential equations, and multi variable calculas and trust me I hate math to but many of the greatest algorythms were created by mathematicians not programmers..OSPF is based on graph theory..a mathematical concept..and without OSPF we wouldn't have much of an internet now would we?
posted by : LISP Programmer, 24 October 2007

The real world...

In the real world, mathematicians have to deal with people like you, Joerg.

Probably why theory work can be so tempting.
posted by : Handy Ray, 24 October 2007

Imaginary numbers, what?

@Trevor: What are you talking about ? What do imaginary numbers or maybe the z-space got anything to do with the fact that the majority of mathematicians just don't have a clue of what is the real meaning and use of those abstractions in the real world ? There are thousand of useless books full of just unusable formulas. Too many people getting paid to waste their time at promoting fantasies, that's the point. This is not science, it's a waste of resources and too many ignorants being promoted as they were more intelligent than average people. The truth is that if you want a true mathematician then you got to search between those that produced something real, something that works and the majority of those people have got to work from scratch and forget many flawed books of useless formulas or waste a lot of time trying to decrypt and find out what the mathematician wasn't able to provide to make a use of his/her own theories.
posted by : Joerg, 25 October 2007
Search for Software, Hardware & Services
[%Alt Text%]