ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A
Two Mathematical Cultures in Pursuit of Exact Sciences

Axiomatism and Computational Positivism

It is argued here that the mathematical approach to the exact sciences has historically appeared to contain two largely distinct cultures (which nevertheless overlap to some extent). One of these takes the deduction of 'certain' conclusions from clearly stated axioms or models as the primary objective; the other considers number the primary concept, and emphasises computation and algebra, conforming to unambiguous rules. A philosophy that may be called computational positivism, whose goal is to make computation agree with observation, appears to have been characteristic of Indian (and apparently Babylonian) astronomy. The interactions between these two cultures have played a key role in the history of science, and seem set to continue to do so in the future as well.



Subscribers please login to access full text of the article.

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

826for India

$50for overseas users

Get instant access to the complete EPW archives

Subscribe now

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top