Quebec Mathematical Sciences Colloquium

February 13, 2009 from 16:00 to 18:00 (Montreal/Miami time) On location

Mathematics in the Light of Metaphor and Ambiguity.

Colloquium presented by William Byers (Concordia University)

Mathematics is often taught and discussed as though the only thing that is going on is the logical structure. From the point of view of formal logic, ambiguity is something that must be avoided at all costs. However I shall show that a kind of metaphoric ambiguity is not only very common in mathematics but also is often the essential thing that is gong on. The conventional, formal approach to math misses what is most important, the creative essence of math, which are the mathematical ideas. Ideas are where the action is but ideas do not have to be logical. This talk will explore another way to think about mathematics and point to a totally different perspective on the philosophy of math. It will be based on my recent book, How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics (Princeton University Press 2007). This is a non-technical talk that will be accessible to everyone who loves mathematics and will especially interest those who love to talk and think about mathematics..


UQAM-Pavillon Sherbrooke- 200 Sherbooke o., room SH 3420