April29, 2015
by Shibumi

## Math and I

Is math a science or is it art, or is it a religion like Calvin says?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Science on the other hand, is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Does math fall into one of these two categories?

Now, this a difficult thing to say because the very definitions of science and art are so broad and complex altogether. For example, if I take a vase, fill it with flowers and place it against the sun onto the floor in an empty room, what would you have? It will form a very pretty shadow on the wall. And then again, it will demonstrate that it is the nature of objects to cast shadows onto flat surfaces when light touches it!

So a work of art (which again is our opinion/idea of what the word ‘Art’ is) would also explain some laws of the physical world. The reverse is also true, when a scientific fact demonstrates a sublime visual beauty in physical forms.

Math or geometry is a basic component of art; when an artist has to reduce what he sees with his eyes to fit a canvas, he uses a scale, ratio, perspective, proportion, all of which falls squarely into the domain of mathematics. But with the help of all that the artist creates something which goes beyond all these concepts. So Art seems to be Math+something, and in itself, Math is not an Art.

In the same way, Math in itself cannot be a science because a number or a bunch of numbers and signs in itself does not prove or give a thesis for the physical world or even explain it fully. So it is a tool for art and for science!

The unit for Mathematics is numbers. Now, numbers is an idea that came from living creatures. We use it in order to measure quantities and structure things a certain way. Numbers, or any of the concepts of quantification, don’t simply grow from the ground or hang from trees!
I personally feel that Math is a language or maybe when it comes to science you could say it’s a tool! I think that mathematics is a language because I see it being used as a form of communication. It has its alphabets (the numbers), it has a structure and syntax, it is used to measure and describe objects, spaces, actions and processes. It is used to communicate concepts. Only, unlike other languages, it is a system of ideas or concepts.

Bhuvana Ganguly.

Some famous quotes that helped me think:

Pure mathematics is in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. –Albert Einstein

Mathematics is really a liberal art if you look at it from a slightly different point of view. –Steve Jobs

Mathematics possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture. –Bertrand Russell

Ordinary language is totally unsuited for expressing what physics really asserts, since the words of everyday life are not sufficiently abstract. Only mathematics and mathematical logic can say as little as the physicist means to say. –Bertrand Russell

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted. –Albert Einstein

But there is another reason for the high repute of mathematics: it is mathematics that offers the exact natural sciences a certain measure of security which, without mathematics, they could not attain.—Albert Einstein

Numbers, even whole numbers, are words, parts of speech, and mathematics is their grammar. Words and numbers have no existence separate from the people who use them.—Carl Eckart