# Is Mathematics the Best thing to Study at University?

Discussion in 'About the Members' started by Spellbound, Aug 8, 2015.

1. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
If one wants to invent not only relevant Philosophical concepts in mathematics but robotics as well, is mathematics the best thing to study? I plan to study hard this time. How "foundational" is mathematics? As I recall Danshawen's youngest son is a PhD in Mathematics.

3. ### krash661[MK6] transitioning scifi to realityValued Senior Member

Messages:
2,973
yes... nothing more... now, get to it already.

5. ### rpennerFully WiredValued Senior Member

Messages:
4,833
There is no one “best” topic to study at a university. Different students will make different choices of what coursework suits their talents and affinities and this is entirely appropriate. However, since applications of mathematics are prevalent in all the sciences, obviously a significant concentration in mathematics is required.

It is meaningless to plan to invent in a subject area until you have a good grounding in what already has been invented in a field. So not only are you going to need a good grounding in the breadth of mathematics and philosophy of mathematics, you would also need to understand control theory and high dimensional spaces and geometry.

For example, the motion of an arm (robot or human) is not just in the 3-dimension space of position of the end of the arm, but a different 3-dimensional space regarding the orientation of the end of the are and another 3-dimensional space of the position of the elbow. The full space may be 9-dimensional, less-than-9-dimensional or for the case of a tentacle arm many-more-than-9-dimensional. Using arms effectively is about the geometry of how to get an arm from a goal position to a desired position without violating any physical constraints and with a minimum of wasted motion. And ensuring physical systems exhibit the behaviors the need to have, like having that arm hold position when needed, is the engineering discipline of control theory -- a branch of applied mathematics.

7. ### DaeconKiwi fruitValued Senior Member

Messages:
3,133
The best thing for YOU to study is critical thinking.

Kristoffer likes this.
8. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
What do you know about my thoughts? Dunce. *spits on you*

Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
9. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
Will mathematics be applicable enough to all areas of science especially Physics? Or should I just study Physics?

10. ### originIn a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect.Valued Senior Member

Messages:
10,676
If you want to be physicist study physics. If you want to be a mathematician study mathematics. If you are not sure take physics and if the math is more fun than the physics then switch to math.

11. ### krash661[MK6] transitioning scifi to realityValued Senior Member

Messages:
2,973
as you attend higher education you will find that in mathematics, at a point your prerequisites are PHYS.
if you take physics, you'll find that mathematics are prerequisites.
ponder why.

12. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
Interesting. Thank you for the intelligent response. I'd like you to give me another intelligent response to my reply to CC in my last thread on "Reality" in Philosophy. Thank you.

13. ### sideshowbobSorry, wrong number.Valued Senior Member

Messages:
4,844
That post says a lot about your thoughts. Maybe you should study burger-flipping.

14. ### spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

Messages:
53,497
Math is always helpful, but programming and engineering might be more useful in that field.

15. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
Sorry. I was wrong. I just felt like he was trying to suppress me once again.

sideshowbob likes this.
16. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
I'm looking for a field in which Philosophical depth can be applied to solving the mysteries of the universe yet I also wish to contribute to robotics.

17. ### exchemistValued Senior Member

Messages:
7,716
If you want to "solve the mysteries of the universe", the first question is whether you are interested in the physical (tangible, objectively observable) universe, or whether you mean the intangible or metaphysical. If the former, you should study the physical sciences, because observation is key. Maths is abstract and does not necessarily reflect the physical world. If the latter, then you should probably study something in the Humanities.

18. ### spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

Messages:
53,497
Then you should study nanophilosophy and cognitive mechanics with a minor in Battlestar Galactica studies.

sideshowbob and Kristoffer like this.
19. ### YazataValued Senior Member

Messages:
5,028
I agree with Rpenner that there isn't any single best thing to study.

Most students choose their subject with three considerations in mind: 1) What they are interested in, 2) Where their individual talents lie, and 3) What career prospects look like in their chosen field. In the contemporary world, career prospects are often given the most weight.

Judging from your posts, my impression is that in your mind "relevant philosophical concepts in mathematics" means spinning mathematics into metaphysics in the manner of your muscle-bound prophet. I don't think that a conventional mathematics major is going to devote much time to that. So my feeling is that a philosophy major might be the best fit with those interests, at a university that stresses Anglo-Saxon-style 'analytic' philosophy and has strengths in metaphysics, the philosophy of mathematics and mathematical foundations.

Robotics is something entirely different. There are some degree programs in robotics out there. If you can't find one you like, you should probably look at mechanical engineering or computer science.

'Foundational' in what sense?

Physics obviously makes great use of mathematics, to the point where it's difficult to understand what physicists are saying or why they say it, unless one can translate their mathematical heiroglyphs.

But I get the impression that you are using 'foundational' in a different and more metaphysical sense. The answer to whether mathematics is foundational in some ontological sense is going to depend on what philosophy of mathematics one adheres to. And so we arrive back at philosophy again.

Moving on to the second and third considerations, do you have any talent in mathematics? Do you find mathematical reasoning easy and intuitive? Did you take to high-school algebra quickly? (I don't want to offend you, but judging from the tortured logic in some of your posts, I'd guess 'no'.) If you lack talent in mathematics, not only will you have difficulty with a mathematics major, engineering will probably be a hurdle too.

And finally there's the career aspect. I think that job prospects are obviously going to be best in the engineering, robotics, computer-science area. If you become a philosopher-metaphysician of the peculiar sort you seemingly favor, about the only career prospects will be in university teaching. That will require a Ph.D. and it's very difficult to break in. University teaching jobs are hard to find and the competition for them is tremendous.

Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
20. ### SpellboundBannedValued Senior Member

Messages:
1,623
Yazata,

What I mean by "foundational" is whether or not it is relevant or pertinent to various other areas of study. You are correct that my interest in mathematics is really to understand what Langan's CTMU means. I have made the decision to study Philosophy since my interest lies in that area. Your advice on this matter has helped me. Thank you. I have never really enjoyed mathematics. Now Philosophy I love. The whole reason I was considering studying mathematics and robotics in the first place was because I believed that technical understanding is required for theories of everything. But you seem to know what you're talking about so what do you recommend I study? Do you think Philosophy would encompass everything and fill me with the knowledge I need to come up with a theory of everything one day? If Philosophy is my forte, and I want technical understanding, would you recommend Philosophy of mathematics?

21. ### Stoniphiobscurely fossiliferousValued Senior Member

Messages:
3,177
You seem to be nipping around the edges of what is termed "cosmology' as in Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking. Albert Einstein studied geometry in order to come up with relativity. There are mathematics prerequisites to taking physics and engineering classes at university, they will cheerfully inform you of that if/when you sign up for those classes.

The multi - variable robotic situations that rpenner references must be handled with group algebra wherein you simultaneously solve groups of algebraic equations to model real-world physical situations.

You will find unemployment - like the curriculum - easy with a degree in philosophy.

22. ### river

Messages:
11,661
" Invent " ?

Boolean Boogeyman likes this.
23. ### Edont KnoffRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
547
Math is important for all technical studies, but there is a difference between math theory and applied math.

If your interest is robotics, then you have a few choices:

- Computer science
- Mechanical engineering
- Cybernetics

Robotics is a combination of all three. And of course, mechanical egineering needs physics, which needs math, and computer science needs electric enginenering which needs physics, which needs math ...

Math is almost everywhere in technology. But technology is usually math + something else, so math alone won't be sufficient.

Pure math is for the thinker type, who don't touch reality too much, but are interested in elements, structures and concepts, abstract ones, which can be proven in an universal fashion. That sounds much like philosophy, but actually it's still quite diferent.

if you can, go to a library and look into some advanced math books. Then compare that to your philosophy books. And then think about the difference, while the desription from afar sounded so similar.

Spellbound likes this.