In 1960 Eugene Wigner wrote The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, an essay questioning the role of mathematics in the physical sciences, and especially questioning the extremely accurate results mathematical theories provide in quantum physics. In this talk we lay out a philosophical framework for the application of mathematics in the physical sciences which draws on Aristotelian Realism, Strong Formalism, and an Empiricist schema. We then apply this framework to the application of Euclidean geometry as formalised by Euclid and Hilbert. Finally we consider in light of this case study the legitimacy of Wigner's questions.

This is a seminar of the Combinatorial Mathematics Society of Australasia.

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Mitchell Roberts

Research Area

Pure Maths Seminar


UNSW Sydney


Fri, 06/11/2020 - 12:00pm