View Full Version : Free Software is Like Mathematics

Zanthir

April 5th, 2011, 03:31 PM

Everyone knows how powerful mathematics is. It got us to the moon, and makes computers and their algorithms possible. Well, I heard something interesting that described math, and I thought, this applies to Free Software too, but not so much proprietary software.

Math is great because people who came before you, often hundreds of years ago, have already solved all of these problems, and recorded it, and now you can benefit from that.

And this is why I love free software, and love to contribute in any way I can. Because I know that the work that I do will benefit humanity forever. When writing or designing, its not just the use at hand the provides the benefit, but any element developed can be copied, and may have unexpected uses or benefits in the future, as often happens in mathematics. The benefits of many math problems are unknown at the time the work is done to solve them.

So just remember this, when your friend's get you down, and your friend tells you, "Free Software just isn't as good."

Tell him, "no, its better. You may not be able to see it right now, but the future thanks us for using Free Software."

Simian Man

April 5th, 2011, 03:42 PM

If mathematics were really like free software, mathematicians would start completely from scratch every five years.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be dozens of mathematical systems of varying quality which all used their own notational systems.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be no proofs; they would consider a theory worth releasing if it worked for all the test cases the mathematicians tried.

Finally if mathematics were really like free software, we'd never have gotten to the moon :(.

tlcstat

April 5th, 2011, 07:26 PM

Greetings,

Ironically, posts #1 and #2 both make sense to me!

tlcstat

juancarlospaco

April 5th, 2011, 11:37 PM

I hate math.

stchman

April 7th, 2011, 12:41 AM

To the OP:

If your buddies don't like free software then they don't have to use it.

tgalati4

April 7th, 2011, 12:47 AM

Oh, this is definitely the year of Mathematics.

spillin_dylan

April 7th, 2011, 01:45 AM

If mathematics were really like free software, mathematicians would start completely from scratch every five years.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be dozens of mathematical systems of varying quality which all used their own notational systems.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be no proofs; they would consider a theory worth releasing if it worked for all the test cases the mathematicians tried.

Finally if mathematics were really like free software, we'd never have gotten to the moon :(.

I don't want to start this argument... BUT the thread is Free Software is like Math, not Math is like Free Software.

Thank goodness you're right about your statements, though; we wouldn't have gotten anywhere with the "Free Software approach" to mathematics!

jdrodrig

April 25th, 2011, 04:39 AM

I don't want to start this argument... BUT the thread is Free Software is like Math, not Math is like Free Software.

Thank goodness you're right about your statements, though; we wouldn't have gotten anywhere with the "Free Software approach" to mathematics!

I don't understand this statement, the relation "is like" (think, approximately equal) is REFLEXIVE in my opinion, if A is like B, then B is like A.

The point to remember is that not all mathematical solutions were created with no-commercial goal in mind; think MatLab, Mathematica, that have provided useful mathematical solutions to optimization problems.

Cannot be overemphasized in these forums, that "open source" is not rivaled or "commercial".

Sef

April 25th, 2011, 06:32 AM

Moved to the Community Cafe.

aG93IGRvIGkgdWJ1bnR1Pw==

April 25th, 2011, 10:34 AM

If mathematics were really like free software, mathematicians would start completely from scratch every five years.

And there are several people who do just that, for educational purposes.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be dozens of mathematical systems of varying quality which all used their own notational systems.

Things are mostly standardised today, but there's still infix, prefix and RPN, Newton or Leibniz calculus notations, and literally dozens of different notational systems for discrete maths.

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be no proofs; they would consider a theory worth releasing if it worked for all the test cases the mathematicians tried.

You've just described engineering.

Finally if mathematics were really like free software, we'd never have gotten to the moon :(.

Because the Free Software community never achieved anything substantial? Sorry, you've lost me here.

RiceMonster

April 25th, 2011, 12:46 PM

Finally if mathematics were really like free software, we'd never have gotten to the moon :(.

People would have spent too much time arguing about how to arrange the controls in the ship, or what colour the astronauts space suits should be.

red_Marvin

April 25th, 2011, 04:27 PM

If mathematics were really like free software, there would be dozens of mathematical systems of varying quality which all used their own notational systems.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1724645

Hyporeal

April 25th, 2011, 05:14 PM

Mathematics and computer science have quite a lot in common, but I question the utility of the analogy with free software. Many people don't know any more about mathematics than they do about software, and the concept of proprietary mathematics may not seem absurd to such people. A better defense of free software is to point out how pervasive it is in business and infrastructure.

Simian Man

April 25th, 2011, 05:26 PM

And there are several people who do just that, for educational purposes.

True, but the vast majority of mathematics builds upon what we already have.

Things are mostly standardised today, but there's still infix, prefix and RPN, Newton or Leibniz calculus notations, and literally dozens of different notational systems for discrete maths.

As you said things are mostly standardized. I can grab a math paper from any branch of math, anywhere in the world and understand the notation they use.

You've just described engineering.

Not at all. Engineers rarely prove things as mathematicians do, but the standards for engineering quality are far more rigorous than those used in software - especially free software. Why do you think that hardware bugs are extremely rare, and when they do occur they are considered quite serious (the Pentium Division Bug (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug) for example). Any major software project, however, has tons of bugs and known defects.

Because the Free Software community never achieved anything substantial? Sorry, you've lost me here.

Not compared with going to the moon :).

ErikNJ

April 25th, 2011, 06:08 PM

Math sometimes ends with the determination that a solution exists. However, engineering must employ the solution.

This all reminds me of this: http://xkcd.com/435/

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