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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Limits of Mathematics ( or: a Lisp interpreter in Mathematica )

( ... ) mathematics because it is an extremely difficult road to traverse. The terrain is extremely demanding. The amount of work and concentration required to build the foundation necessary to continue extending the framework is immense. ( ... ) - David Andrews

Mathematics, as if you have never seen a skyscraper and are traversing the streets of Manhattan. With that mindset, you can only think that people -walk- to the 60th floor... Anyway, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size and complexity of maths is not going to help. Only people willing to teach, without ulterior selfish motives, can help. One can write a book about mathematics to impress peers, as a way to meet publication quotas or to -teach-. Like the book The Limits of Mathematics does for example. It is a clear taste of the best mathematics has to offer, an invitation to go on to the next level.

The table of contents says it all:
- Randomness in arithmetic and the decline and fall of reductionism in pure mathematics
- Elegant LISP programs
- An invitation to algorithmic information theory
- The limits of mathematics
- Appendix. LISP interpreter in Mathematica

The appendix contains the source code of a Lisp interpreter coded in Mathematica. I love that. But the book starts with a clear description of the massive changes taking place in ( the thinking about ) mathematics during the first half of the twentieth century, from Hilbert to Turing.

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