[FOM] Mathematicians on the Clapham omnibus
Thomas Forster
T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk
Sun Aug 9 18:54:26 EDT 2009
Well, i said `most' not `all'. I don't want to make a meal of it,
and i'm not going to quarrel over numbers. (I'm not yet sure
whether or not i care what the mathematician-in-the-street thinks)
But *IF* the views of the mathematician-in-the-street are to be
ruled germane to a discussion about CH and AC it *MIGHT* be
necessary to bear in mind that most people who call themselves
mathematicians - and who make a living under that description - are
applied people who neither know nor care. As i say, we are a charmed
circle. Sad but true.
On Sun, 9 Aug 2009 joeshipman at aol.com wrote:
> That can't be right, if you define "mathematician in the streeet" as a
> random person with a Ph.D. in mathematics. Most of the graduate
> cirriculum in pure math (and some of the undergrad curriculum) makes
> regular "unbracketed" use of AC (in the form of Zorn's Lemma, maximum
> principles, constructions involving infinitely many arbitrary choices,
> assuming every vector space has a basis, the Tychonoff theorem, etc.).
>
> I agree that applied mathematicians have no use for AC, but pure
> mathematians are a very important subpopulation of "all mathematicians"
> and they have typically been taught to prove theorems with a toolset
> that relies on AC in many ways.
>
> -- JS
>
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