# Mathematics: Invention or Discovery?

(Image by mararie)

So I certainly won’t be covering any new ground by bringing up the debate of whether mathematics is created or discovered. There are plenty of resources online covering this topic. Some of the better ones I’ve read are here and here. I’ve been thinking about this question over the past day given the Radiolab program I mention in my last post. Suffice is it to say that Plato certainly believed that mathematics was discovered, as evidenced through his theory of forms. While thinking over the issue, I remembered an interview that I had read earlier this year in Discover Magazine with Max Tegmark, an Associate Professor of Physics at MIT. Though most of his works centers around conventional cosmology, he has some interesting theories about the universe, and how it is physically composed of mathematics. As Max puts it in the interview, “Mathematical things actually exist, and they are actually physical reality”. In this sense, he doesn’t align himself with Plato’s theory of forms given that mathematics IS reality, rather than mathematical forms existing in some ideal way outside of reality. The interview is informative from a cosmological perspective as well, particuarly in regard to the four levels of multiverse he describes.