[FOM] Unreasonable effectiveness

Timothy Y. Chow tchow at alum.mit.edu
Sun Nov 3 20:21:07 EST 2013

In light of some of the responses, I think I should state explicitly some 
things that I was taking for granted but that may not have been clear to 

I am not (currently) interested in a general philosophical discussion of 
Wigner's thesis.  Such a discussion tends to provoke directionless 
rambling of a kind that is likely to cause the moderator to shut down the 
thread faster than you can say, "Julia Robinson."

Instead, what I am wondering is whether there is an interesting technical 
question lurking in the vicinity.  Namely, is it possible to write down a 
precise mathematical definition of "reasonable effectiveness" and then 
test the hypothesis that mathematics is "unreasonably effective"?  The 
mathematical model will necessarily have to be very much a spherical cow 
at first if any non-trivial result is to emerge.  But it might still be 
interesting.  In this regard, Jacques Carette's response has been the most 
helpful one so far.  (As of this writing, I think Carette's message is 
still awaiting moderator attention---Carette copied me separately on his 
email---but I'm expecting it to be approved.)


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