We need more discussion of Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by James R, Nov 18, 2023.

  1. Halc Registered Senior Member


    OK, this verifies what I said above: MUH is an eternalist view. It does surprise me to see the word 'abstract', which implies something more fundamental doing the abstracting. If that were the case, the whole hypothesis collapses.

    The rest of the quote seems to be him trying to get the reader to visualize spacetime and worldlines and such, as opposed to the 3D presentist view.

    Nobody has commented on my critique of MUH, and I have no idea how to search for what Tegmark might has said about it
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2023
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Now do you understand why I always accompany my posts with a link that supports the argument?
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    He was probably addressing "mathematical structure" in a conventional context rather than one where he reifies the concept as physical, since he wasn't discussing MUH directly in that old article.

    Though, for all I know, in his writings somewhere he might do the same when he is discussing MUH. Or maybe he flips back and forth between the two orientations at times with little concern for the reader's confusion.

    He's only responded to a few common questions on his his website. He's got interviews and videos scattered all over the internet, but similarly I don't know to what extent (if any) he has addressed the specific scrutiny of others in them.

    The SEP seems to have no entry devoted to MUH, though bits of details slash commentary about it are scattered around under different topics.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Hint: just because everything may be linked through a Theory of Everything does not mean you should start proselytising about the ToE in every thread. Focus your efforts where it is relevant to the discussion rather than where it simply has some relevance to the subject. After all, a ToE has relevance to the subject, of, well, everything, including films, songs, favourite colour etc. but it is not always relevant to those discussions.
    You would do well to learn that difference, as you seem to be struggling with it thus far.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Computable function
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    That is my perspective on one of the mathematical essence of spacetime geometry.
    How about "the human brain" as the alternate complex model of computation?

    How can a brainless slime mold navigate a maze by subtraction? How can small-brained Lemurs count?
    As Tegmark says; "It is the pattern that determines the ability for more or less computability".
    The human brain has as many synapses as stars in the Milky Way.
    How is that for a model?

    Why Your Brain is Like The Universe
    April 20, 2016 - BrainMD Life

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Your brain is the most complex, mind-blowing organ in the universe. It is estimated to have over 100 billion neurons (also called nerve cells or brain cells), which is about the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2023
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps part of the problem in this thread is that that everyone is trying to understand what Tegmark is about through W4U's interpretation of him. That might be a bit like peering through a kaleidoscopic fun-house distorting mirror.

    Here's a shorter-than-booklength 31 page account of the "MUH" by Tegmark himself, published in 2007 in Foundations of Physics:


    I have to admit that I haven't read it yet and it seems to me to perhaps be too filled with physics and mathematics jargon to be comprehensible as metaphysical philosophy (which is what it ultimately is) by a physics and mathematics layman like me. But I believe that he does address the question of why some mathematics is tangible and physical in his 'MUH' view, while so much of the rest of mathematics is purely conceptual.

    Maybe this represents a fundamental difference between Tegmark and me. My scientific background (such as it is) is in biological science. I conceive of the reality posited by science as a biologist might, not through the perhaps excessively mathematical lens of theoretical physics. I've long suspected that many theoretical physicists think that the mathematics they scrawl all over their chalkboards is more real to them than the physical reality that it's supposedly meant to describe. What really exists (in some strong ontological sense) in their minds is seemingly the mathematics on the chalkboard, and all that physical reality does is exemplify and instantiate it somehow.

    I'm reminded of Plato's cave imagery in the Republic, where physical reality is just an imperfect shadow of the true reality of the Eternal Forms. It seems to me that what Tegmark might be doing is trying to create a more physically informed and sophisticated version of Plato's 'cave' image.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
    C C likes this.
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    From that paper:

    EXCERPTS: . . . By insisting on a complete description of reality, the MUH banishes not only the classical notion of initial conditions, but also the classical notion of randomness.

    The traditional view of randomness (viewed either classically or as in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics) is only meaningful in the context of an external time, so that one can start with one state and then have something random “happen”, causing two or more possible outcomes. In contrast, the only intrinsic properties of a mathematical structure are its relations, timeless and unchanging.

    In a fundamental sense, the MUH thus implies Einstein’s dictum “God does not play dice”. This means that if the MUH is correct, the only way that randomness and probabilities can appear in physics is via the presence of ensembles, as a way for observers to quantify their ignorance about which element(s) of the ensemble they are in...

    [...] Parallel universes are now all the rage... They are also a source of confusion, since many forget to distinguish between different types of parallel universes that have been proposed, whereas argued that the various proposals form a natural four-level hierarchy of multiverses allowing progressively greater diversity.

    [...] The key question is therefore not whether there is a multiverse (since Level I is the rather uncontroversial cosmological standard model), but rather how many levels it has. ... Level I, II and III parallel universes are all part of the same mathematical structure, but from the frog perspective, they are for all practical purposes causally disconnected. Level II, is currently a very active research area...

    [...] In summary, many mathematical structures contain defacto parallel universes at levels I through III, so the possibility of a multiverse is a direct and obvious implication of the MUH. We will therefore not dwell further on these levels, and devote the remainder of this section to Level IV...

    [...] Long a staple of science fiction, the idea that our external reality is some form of computer simulation has gained prominence with recent blockbuster movies like "The Matrix".

    [...] Lloyd has advanced the intermediate possibility that we live in an analog simulation performed by a quantum computer, albeit not a computer designed by anybody — rather, because the structure of quantum field theory is mathematically equivalent to that of a spatially distributed quantum computer. In a similar spirit, Schmidhuber, Wolfram and others have explored the idea that the laws of physics correspond to a classical computation. Below we will explore these issues in the context of the MUH.

    [...] Suppose that our universe is indeed some form of computation. A common misconception in the universe simulation literature is that our physical notion of a one-dimensional time must then necessarily be equated with the step-by-step one-dimensional flow of the computation. I will argue below that if the MUH is correct, then computations do not need to evolve the universe, but merely describe it (defining all its relations).

    [...] The temptation to equate time steps with computational steps is understandable, given that both form a one-dimensional sequence where (at least for the non-quantum case) the next step is determined by the current state. However, this temptation stems from an outdated classical description of physics: there is generically no natural and well-defined global time variable in general relativity, and even less so in quantum gravity where time emerges as an approximate semiclassical property of certain “clock” subsystems. Indeed, linking frog perspective time with computer time is unwarranted even within the context of classical physics.

    The rate of time flow perceived by an observer in the simulated universe is completely independent of the rate at which a computer runs the simulation. Moreover, as emphasized by Einstein, it is arguably more natural to view our universe not from the frog perspective as a 3-dimensional space where things happen, but from the bird perspective as a 4-dimensional spacetime that merely is.

    There should therefore be no need for the computer to compute anything at all — it could simply store all the 4-dimensional data, i.e., encode all properties of the mathematical structure that is our universe. Individual time slices could then be read out sequentially if desired, and the “simulated” world should still feel as real to its inhabitants as in the case where only 3-dimensional data is stored and evolved. In conclusion, the role of the simulating computer is not to compute the history of our universe, but to specify it.

    [...] This paper has explored the implications of the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our external physical reality is a mathematical structure (a set of abstract entities with relations between them). I have argued that the MUH follows from the external reality hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independently of us humans, and that it constitutes the opposite extreme of the Copenhagen interpretation and other “many words interpretations” of physics where human-related notions like observation are fundamental.

    In Section III, we discussed the challenge of deriving our perceived everyday view (the “frog’s view”) of our world from the formal description (the “bird’s view”) of the mathematical structure, and argued that although much work remains to be done here, promising first steps include computing the automorphism group and its subgroups, orbits and irreducible actions...
    - - - - - - -

    The "frog" and "bird" analogies as well as "multiverse levels" also go back to this 2003 SciAm article called "Parallel Universes": https://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/multiverse.pdf

    And again, he also discusses the "timeless and unchanging" mathematical structure or "time is not an illusion, but the flow of time is" here: https://nautil.us/why-the-flow-of-time-is-an-illusion-237380/

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
  11. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    I am absolutely not doing that.
    I summized pretty quickly that Write4U knows next to nothing about Tegmark's thesis. This is because the Tegmark video that he keeps posting says next to nothing about it.

    The actual paper is 26 pages including references so I am going to have a crack at it today, see how far I get.
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Sarkus is right about this.

    This thread was split from another one, along with two other threads on different topics. It was split partly because Write4U proved himself incapable of talking about a single topic at a time, and so tried talking about at least three different (unrelated) things at the same time.

    However, the main reason this thread is here in Site Feedback is because Write4U made a series of complaints with the gist that he thinks that Tegmark's hypothesis hasn't been adequately discussed on sciforums. He told us all that what he wanted was an in-depth discussion about Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis (MUP) - the pros and cons of it, what evidence supports it (if any), what its detractors have had to say about the idea, etc.

    However, in the brief time that this thread has existed, Write4U has proven himself to be utterly unequipped for having any kind of useful discussion about the MUP. (More on that shortly.)

    Therefore, it seems to me that if the rest of us here are to have a useful discussion about it, it will be best to keep it free from unhelpful distractions by Write4U. I am therefore considering splitting off the actual discussion of the MUP (some of which has already happened here, but which has not involved Write4U, for the most part) to its own thread, perhaps in the "Alternative Theories" subforum. If that happens, Write4U will be excluded from posting in that thread. I would appreciate some feedback on this. Do the other interested posters here think this is a good idea, or would you all like to keep beating your head uselessly against the impenetrable wall that is Write4U? Of course, we could have separate places for both of those things, if you like.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  13. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    I think it is a good idea if we really want to stick to the subject, the published paper.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Your latest replies to me are so scatterbrained and incoherent that I just don't think it's worth my time and effort to attempt to respond point by point.

    (Edit: Oh God. I've gone and responded anyway. Too late now. What a waste of time, for all the good it will do.)

    After all, you didn't actually put any thought into what I asked you. Your responses look like you just posted the first thing that came into your head, like in a game of word association.

    Some people who have only been here a short time have tried engaging with you, too. In them, it seems that you have simply found an excuse to start off from scratch again with all the same word salad you used in your previous discussions with myself and others. It is clear from those interactions, however, that you have actually learned nothing from previous discussions. You have ignored people who have tried to help you. I don't know whether it's deliberate obtuseness on your part, though that's a possibility I can't rule out. I suspect there's another, hidden, issue in play.

    Either way, it doesn't seem fair to you to expect you to discuss a topic like Tegmark's MUH as if you understand something about it. You're clearly not equipped, for whatever reason, and after a while it just feels sort of icky, like bullying a child.

    Anyway, let me briefly extract a few highlights (if we can call them that) from your recent posts. Call it a last ditch attempt to reach you, if you like.

    (Edit: So, I got on a roll, and the highlight reel turned into the point-by-point shredding that I said I didn't want to get into, more or less. Oh well...)
    I didn't ask you questions about shoelaces or the alphabet. You seem quite unable to focus on what you are asked.
    Do you imagine there was something in Antonsen's talk that I didn't already know? (Note: I have already said I found it entertaining. I am not dissing his talk. The problem is with your assumptions about the people you're trying to talk with, right here. You're not operating at the same level, but you seem to be totally oblivious to that. Like I said, it feels icky to tell you. Probably, though, you won't believe me anyway. You'll just ignore it.)
    Maybe he does. Maybe he doesn't. So what?
    You mean you already knew you were wrong about everything, so I didn't need to tell you?
    Him being wrong and him being willing to change his mind are two separate issues.

    You must understand this from your own experience.
    Oh no. I have had the privilege of knowing some very smart people.

    I highly recommend that everyone should develop some appreciation for just how much they don't know. Having some conception about one's own limitations means you're likely to see the world more clearly than you otherwise might. Humbler people are usually nicer people, too, so there are good spin-off effects, too.
    "Generic relational values" is word salad. Meaningless.
    Who knows? You are incapable of defining what you mean by "value". Hence, when you talk about value, you don't say anything.
    Word salad piled on word salad.
    The universe is not an agent.
    The reason these statements are meaningless is because you can't define "value".

    You claimed that the proton has a "mathematical value". I asked you "What is the mathematical value of a proton, Write4U?" And you start your answer with "If it has any value..."?

    What do you mean, "if"? Can't you remember your own claims from one post to the next? What's up with you?

    And then you ask me if I'm telling you about a proton's "relational value"? I'm telling you nothing about a proton's relational value, Write4U, because I don't believe that "relational value" means anything at all. It's word salad you just made up. Meaningless gobbledegook. Just stream of consciousness rubbish. Literally the first thing that popped into your head when you came to respond (not reply, mind you) to the question I asked you.

    This is how every discussion with you goes. It's not just me. Everybody gets the same Write4U combination of world salad, nonsense, irrelevancies piled on irrelevancies and just plain garden-variety errors. But don't worry. You'll forget I said this, two minutes after you respond to it.
    Not ok.

    That's just more word salad, because you (still) don't know what "potential" or "work" is. Applying the modifier "inherent" to "potential" doesn't mean anything, because "potential" doesn't mean anything when you use that word.
    You asked me "Have you ever heard of theoretical mathematics?"
    I said no, what's that?
    And now you confirm that you don't know what it is, either.

    Why didn't you "read up on it" before you pretended it was a real thing, Write4U?
    No. Algebra is not science.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    (Brace yourselves, readers, because there's more of the same coming. I'll highlight the only important/strictly relevant bit in a different colour, so you can skip the rest.)
    Nowhere did I insist that you describe how DNA works in this thread.
    You directly asked me what the DNA molecule does. I took that as a sign from you that you don't know what it does.

    If you already knew what it does, why would you need to ask me?
    Irrelevant in a thread about whether Tegmark's MUH needs more discussion. Also wrong. DNA is not a "mathematical object".
    There was nothing about the maths of tying shoelaces in the youtube talk you linked.
    I don't think you know what it means for something to be mathematical, so I see no point in attempting to discuss that with you.
    There is no "THE image" of 4/3. I think you missed Antonsen's point. Which is quite incredible, seeing as the entire video had just a single main theme.
    That pattern didn't "self organise". Antonsen organised it.
    Nobody can tell you that, because "mathematical relative values and relations" is just word salad that you made up. It doesn't mean anything.

    No pattern is "self-forming". Now I think you don't know what a pattern is.
    Maybe that's the number 1 reason why you keep uselessly spinning your wheels with the same bullshit. Garbage in; garbage out.
    You don't seem to understand metaphors. (Perhaps Tegmark doesn't, either. Although, it's probably unfair to lump him in with you.)
    Mathematics is not an agent. It is not a god. You are unlikely to find it to be an adequate substitute for a god, if that's what you're looking for.
    No. A thousand times, No.

    Is every tall person proof that the universe employs tallness at its most fundamental level? The answer is obvious to most people.
    Yes, and that's meaningless word salad.

    You don't know what "quasi-intelligent" means.
    You don't know what a "quasi-intelligent" expression of anything would look like, let along the quasi-intelligent expression of a logical principle.
    You don't know what a "logical principle" is.
    It's nonsense to claim that a "logical principle" could govern anything.
    You don't know what "our dimensional reality" means.

    Word salad, all of it.
    ... says the man who previously told us that he doesn't actually need to know any maths to understand science or Tegmark - or maths, presumably. He only needs to know about the "connections" and stuff like that.

    Go on, Write4U. Tell us what you do not totally agree with Tegmark about.

    What does Tegmark get wrong, according to you? Tell us one thing.

    How could you possibly know what Pinball1970's answers are worth?

    If he can do better than meaningless word salad - and all indications so far are that he can - that would necessarily make his answers better than yours, I think.
    Remember where I told you, in this thread, why I think Tegmark is wrong? Remember how you complained that I just said he was wrong and never explained why?

    Do you also remember that you have, so far, utterly failed to engage with the objection to Tegmark's MUH that I put forward?

    Telling all of us that Tegmark is right does not make him right. And it certainly doesn't make you right. Try harder.

    Irrelevant. Off topic, like so much of what you post.
    The only problem is that what you quoted does not mention the term "spacetime geometry", even once.

    Truly bizarre irrelevancy.
    Do you for one moment imagine that Tegmark was talking about slime molds or Lemurs when he said/wrote that?

    You seem utterly unable to focus. What's up with you?
    Time to stop. Every second paragraph is an irrelevant cut and paste. And the ones in between are just word salad, most of the time.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member


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    Setting up a thread for the actual discussion would be good, rather than keep it here. However, I'm not sure Write4U should be excluded from posting there. I'm not a fan of limiting one's activity so specifically (didn't even know it was possible), but rather they face the consequences of their actions (cumulative warnings etc). It may require a bit more active moderation to keep it on track, removing off-topic posts etc, but we have the capability of ignoring him, actively or passively, and of reporting off-topic posts. I mean, if people simply choose not to respond to his off-topic posts, would that not be sufficient? Just my two-pence worth.

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  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I recall that I previously addressed you with some real discussion points about the MUH.

    I am aware that you have responded to what I wrote. Chances are good that I'll get around to replying to you at some point, but that's not going to happen right here and now.

    We're not on a timer here.
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Visiting this again, with respect to what it signifies, rather than offering excerpts...

    Apparently, the whole venture into mathematicism is a distraction from a narrower ontological agenda.

    What Tegmark is actually advocating is a multiverse version of eternalism. The simplistic block-universe concept cannot accommodate the complexity of that, thus his broadening to a discussion or fixation on mathematical structures in general.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2023
  19. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    Write4u cannot discuss the paper, the one I have at least.
    It would dilute this discussion or people would just have to ignore it.
    Like his video, Tegmark is breaking down mathematics to its component parts and it's relevance to physics.
    TBH I still don't know what I am reading, it is like broad over view of the philosophy of mathematics with the add on that every operation or object IS physical.
    He has not mentioned Gödel yet but this is a long paper.
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And on what basis do you make that argument? I have read differently and I'll let the quote speak for itself.

    DNA as information: at the crossroads between biology, mathematics, physics and chemistry
    Julyan H. E. Cartwright, Simone Giannerini and Diego L. González
    Published:13 March 2016https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2015.0071

    more..... ttps://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2015.0071#

    I feel vindicated. In case my posts have fallen on deaf ears, perhaps this might enlighten you as to where my thinking lies.
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    yes, just like this.

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    Fundamentally it's not all that complicated.

    And it's not just the physics but what about emergent properties? Is consciousness a mathematical object?
    And if "thinking" is a mathematical process, what does the processing?


    And @ James, now do you get where I come from with my 3 favorite subjects? Collecting common denominators (evidence) eventually leads to answers.
    Instead of "hard questions" such as "what is it?", ask "what do we know about it?"
    What are the "hard facts"? (Max Tegmark)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2023
  22. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    Reported you for yet more off topic pastes. We are discussing TEGMARK which was YOUR constant reference.
  23. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    That's because you have not read the book or the paper so you are not aware of the content.
    I am humble enough to say right now I do not where he is going with it or how he is going to demonstrate any of it.

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