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Experimental Mathematics

Alan Baker
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 68, No. 3, Towards a New Epistemology of Mathematics (May, 2008), pp. 331-344
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267361
Page Count: 14
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Experimental Mathematics
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Abstract

The rise of the field of "experimental mathematics" poses an apparent challenge to traditional philosophical accounts of mathematics as an a priori, non-empirical endeavor. This paper surveys different attempts to characterize experimental mathematics. One suggestion is that experimental mathematics makes essential use of electronic computers. A second suggestion is that experimental mathematics involves support being gathered for an hypothesis which is inductive rather than deductive. Each of these options turns out to be inadequate, and instead a third suggestion is considered according to which experimental mathematics involves calculating instances of some general hypothesis. The paper concludes with the examination of some philosophical implications of this characterization.

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