# Ask a Mathematician - therapy for the fear of math or just answers to questions that bug you!

### This is really simple: you ask the questions!

If you're a student, this is your chance to ask those questions you feel too shy to ask in class.

If you're way past college, what things bug you about mathematics? What questions do your kids ask you?

This is an experiment. I hope the number of students will increase soon, so this is the time to try out something new.

I also hope that you may get answers from other mathematicians currently lurking in the shadows of Steemit.

Please make your questions as specific as possible. Anyone who wishes to know why "1 + 1 = 2" will be despatched to the nearest article on axiomatic number theory.

I think this is better than me writing about what I *think* others may want.

Any really good questions may prompt a full answer in a fresh post.

So have a go! What have you got to lose?

hagbardceline (60)7 years ago (edited)Ok, this is a very philosophical one: Are mathematical facts invented or discovered?

Btw: Upvoted, resteemed and followed. :-)

rycharde (63)7 years agoDiscordia! ;-)

May I refer the question to: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philosophy-mathematics/

Funnily, this reminds me that I was once invited as a guest on the BBC radio show In Our Time to discuss this very topic! Sadly, the show was later cancelled, only to reappear about a year later... without my presence. bah!

The real answer is that nobody knows! It feels as if mathematical systems are constructed, and hence invented, yet in the process that system may well lead to discoveries that nobody had anticipated. I don't think anybody believes in pure platonism anymore, that such structures have an existence independent of our minds. Yes, physical reality has a mathematical structure but that is verified by experiment, mathematics itself deals with all possible structures, some of which cannot even exist.

It is like the Glass Bead Game, but it has produced computers, so not totally useless! :-)

hagbardceline (60)7 years agoAll hail to Eris! ;-)

Thank you very much for your answer and the link you provided. To be honest I actually wasn't really expecting a definitive answer. I was just interested in your personal opinion on that topic. I wonder whether this question will ever be really "solved".

Do you happen to have a link to a recording of this BBC radio show?

rycharde (63)7 years agoThat show would have been some 15 years ago. You may find someone who archives In Our Time on download sites.

rycharde (63)7 years agoAnd thanks very much for the resteem :-)

erm... nearly 2am here... I shall rejoin you tomorrow, after my students' graduation event.

math-trail (59)7 years agoIf this is successful, we may roll this out as a weekly re-post so that new people can ask questions. Any mathematics writer is free to pick up on any of the questions and, if a long answer is required, write a fresh post about it.

!-=o0o=-!

To follow curated math content follow @math-trail.

If you wish @math-trail to follow

youthen read this article.komischername (56)7 years agoHello, I'm a technical student from Vienna. Today I don't have a specifical question. But next time when I have a question and this situation will be probably Monday then I post my question here :) Is this okay for you?

theabsolute (63)7 years agoI can think of a few questions: what do you think is the most important unsolved problem in mathematics? What do you think is the most interesting field or type of problems/concepts in math?

theabsolute (63)7 years agoAlso, at the deepest level, can everything we know about ourselves and the world around us be described in terms of mathematical concepts?

theabsolute (63)7 years agoSorry, last one I promise: will there be a use for Euler's identity e^(iπ) = -1 ?

rycharde (63)7 years agoWhat do you mean "a use"? It is an identity. It has a conceptual beauty as it combines arithmetic, complex numbers, trigonometry and logarithms into one framework.

The general formula e^iz = cosz +isinz is used as the starting point to solve many differential equations.

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elemenya (55)7 years agoI just saw this post. I will make sure to ask you about any questions in mathematics!