Category Archives: Philosophy

Test Your Intuition 33: The Great Free Will Poll

Free will is defined (following Wikipedea) as the ability of humans to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. But you may take your favorite definition of free will.  Philosophers (and others) have debated the definition of “free will” and the question if humans … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged | 14 Comments

Layish

This story is implicitly referred to in the 2008 opening post of this blog. ———– It was high time to raise the level of the discussion, I thought. Princeton, Fall 1995. We were a group of mathematicians at the IAS … Continue reading

Posted in Combinatorics, Computer Science and Optimization, Games, Mathematics to the rescue, Philosophy, Rationality, Sport, Taxi-and-other-stories | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Poznań: Random Structures and Algorithms 2013

   Michal Karonski (left) who built Poland’s probabilistic combinatorics group at Poznań, and a sculpture honoring the Polish mathematicians who first broke the Enigma machine (right, with David Conlon, picture taken by Jacob Fox). Update: Here is a picture from 2015, while … Continue reading

Posted in Combinatorics, Conferences, Open problems, Philosophy, Probability | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Why is Mathematics Possible: Tim Gowers’s Take on the Matter

In a previous post I mentioned the question of why is mathematics possible. Among the interesting comments to the post, here is a comment by Tim Gowers: “Maybe the following would be a way of rephrasing your question. We know … Continue reading

Posted in Open discussion, Philosophy, What is Mathematics | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Why is mathematics possible?

Spectacular advances in number theory Last weeks we heard about two spectacular results in number theory.  As announced in Nature, Yitang Zhang proved that there are infinitely many pairs of consecutive primes which are at most 70 million apart! This is a sensational achievement. … Continue reading

Posted in Computer Science and Optimization, Number theory, Open discussion, Philosophy, Updates, What is Mathematics | 15 Comments

The Privacy Paradox of Rann Smorodinsky

   The following paradox was raised by Rann Smorodinsky: Rann Smorodinsky’s Privacy Paradox Suppose that you have the following one-time scenario. You want to buy a sandwich where the options are a roast beef sandwich or an avocado sandwich. Choosing … Continue reading

Posted in Games, Philosophy, Rationality | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man

Today (April 27, 2012) it is precisely 213 years 7 months, and 29 days to the completion of the declaration of the rights of man, which makes it a perfect occasion to celebrate this remarkable human creation. Here is a … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Philosophy | Tagged | 4 Comments

A Paradoxical Self-Referential Statement

A small discussion in a meeting about two decades ago. Lior: Some people in the department think that they are wiser than what they really are John: I am really wiser than what I think I am. John’s statement is paradoxical … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Itamar Pitowsky: Probability in Physics, Where does it Come From?

I came across a videotaped lecture by Itamar Pitowsky given at PITP some years ago on the question of probability in physics that we discussed in two earlier posts on randomness in nature (I, II). There are links below to … Continue reading

Posted in Obituary, Philosophy, Physics, Probability | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Randomness in Nature II

In a previous post we presented a MO question by Liza about randomness:  What is the explanation of the apparent randomness of high-level phenomena in nature? 1. Is it accepted that these phenomena are not really random, meaning that given enough … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Physics, Probability | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments