Chapter 12: The Principle of Computational Equivalence

Section 9: Implications for Mathematics and Its Foundations

Frameworks [in mathematics]

Symbolic integration was in the past done by a collection of ad hoc methods like substitution, partial fractions, integration by parts, and parametric differentiation. But in Mathematica Integrate is now almost completely systematic, being based on structure theorems for finding general forms of integrals, and on general representations in terms of MeijerG and other functions. (In recognizing, for example, whether an expression involving a parameter can have a pole undecidable questions can in principle come up, but they seem rare in practice.) Proofs are essentially always still done in an ad hoc way—with a few minor frameworks like enumeration of cases, induction, and proof by contradiction (reductio ad absurdum) occasionally being used. (More detailed frameworks are used in specific areas; an example are ε-δ arguments in calculus.) But although still almost unknown in mainstream mathematics, methods from automated theorem proving (see page 1157) are beginning to allow proofs of many statements that can be formulated in terms of operator systems to be found in a largely systematic way (e.g. page 810). (In the case of Euclidean geometry—which is a complete axiom system—algebraic methods have allowed complete systematization.) In general, the more systematic the proofs in a particular area become, the less relevant they will typically seem compared to the theorems that they establish as true.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]