Thursday, November 1, 2018

The centrality of the natural numbers

The more I think about the foundations of mathematics, the more wisdom I see in Kronecker’s famous saying: “God made the natural numbers; all else is the work of man.” There is something foundationally deep about the natural numbers. We see this in the way theories of natural numbers is equivalent (e.g., via Goedel encoding) to the theories of strings of symbols that are central to logic, and in the way that when we fix our model of natural numbers, we fix the foundational notion of provability.

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