[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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