Log24

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Architect and the Matrix

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 PM

In memory of Yale art historian Vincent Scully, who reportedly
died at 97 last night at his home in Lynchburg, Va., some remarks
from the firm of architect John Outram and from Scully —

Update from the morning of December 2 —

The above 3×3 figure is of course not unrelated to
the 4×4 figure in The Matrix for Quantum Mystics:

 .

See as well Tsimtsum in this journal.

Harold Bloom on tsimtsum as sublimation

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Matrix for Quantum Mystics

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:29 PM

Scholia on the title — See Quantum + Mystic in this journal.

The Matrix of Lévi-Strauss

"In Vol. I of Structural Anthropology , p. 209, I have shown that
this analysis alone can account for the double aspect of time
representation in all mythical systems: the narrative is both
'in time' (it consists of a succession of events) and 'beyond'
(its value is permanent)." — Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1976

I prefer the earlier, better-known, remarks on time by T. S. Eliot
in Four Quartets , and the following four quartets (from
The Matrix Meets the Grid) —

.

From a Log24 post of June 26-27, 2017:

A work of Eddington cited in 1974 by von Franz

See also Dirac and Geometry and Kummer in this journal.

Ron Shaw on Eddington's triads "associated in conjugate pairs" —

For more about hyperbolic  and isotropic  lines in PG(3,2),
see posts tagged Diamond Theorem Correlation.

For Shaw, in memoriam — See Contrapuntal Interweaving and The Fugue.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For Quantum Mystics

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:48 PM

"An awful lot of important dualities in four and fewer dimensions
follow from this six-dimensional theory and its properties."

— Edward Witten, interviewed by Natalie Wolchover,
     in Quanta Magazine  on November 28, 2017

See also Six Dimensions in this  journal.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday School

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

The title of the previous post, "For Quantum Mystics,"
suggests a search in this journal for Quantum + Mystic.

That search in turn suggests, in particular, a review of
a post of October 16, 2007 — a discussion of the 
P.T. Barnum-like phrase "deep beauty" used to describe
a topic under discussion at Princeton by physicists.

Princeton, by the way, serves to illustrate the "gutter"
mentioned by Sir Laurence Olivier in a memorable
classroom scene from 1962

Saturday, August 15, 2015

For Quantum Mystics

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 7:59 PM

Monday, June 14, 2010

Birkhoff on the Galois “Theory of Ambiguity”

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:48 PM

The Principle of Sufficient Reason

by George David Birkhoff

from "Three Public Lectures on Scientific Subjects,"
delivered at the Rice Institute, March 6, 7, and 8, 1940

EXCERPT 1—

My primary purpose will be to show how a properly formulated
Principle of Sufficient Reason plays a fundamental
role in scientific thought and, furthermore, is to be regarded
as of the greatest suggestiveness from the philosophic point
of view.2

In the preceding lecture I pointed out that three branches
of philosophy, namely Logic, Aesthetics, and Ethics, fall
more and more under the sway of mathematical methods.
Today I would make a similar claim that the other great
branch of philosophy, Metaphysics, in so far as it possesses
a substantial core, is likely to undergo a similar fate. My
basis for this claim will be that metaphysical reasoning always
relies on the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and that
the true meaning of this Principle is to be found in the
Theory of Ambiguity” and in the associated mathematical
“Theory of Groups.”

If I were a Leibnizian mystic, believing in his “preestablished
harmony,” and the “best possible world” so
satirized by Voltaire in “Candide,” I would say that the
metaphysical importance of the Principle of Sufficient Reason
and the cognate Theory of Groups arises from the fact that
God thinks multi-dimensionally3 whereas men can only
think in linear syllogistic series, and the Theory of Groups is

2 As far as I am aware, only Scholastic Philosophy has fully recognized and ex-
ploited this principle as one of basic importance for philosophic thought

3 That is, uses multi-dimensional symbols beyond our grasp.
______________________________________________________________________

the appropriate instrument of thought to remedy our deficiency
in this respect.

The founder of the Theory of Groups was the mathematician
Evariste Galois. At the end of a long letter written in
1832 on the eve of a fatal duel, to his friend Auguste
Chevalier, the youthful Galois said in summarizing his
mathematical work,4 “You know, my dear Auguste, that
these subjects are not the only ones which I have explored.
My chief meditations for a considerable time have been
directed towards the application to transcendental Analysis
of the theory of ambiguity. . . . But I have not the time, and
my ideas are not yet well developed in this field, which is
immense.” This passage shows how in Galois’s mind the
Theory of Groups and the Theory of Ambiguity were
interrelated.5

Unfortunately later students of the Theory of Groups
have all too frequently forgotten that, philosophically
speaking, the subject remains neither more nor less than the
Theory of Ambiguity. In the limits of this lecture it is only
possible to elucidate by an elementary example the idea of a
group and of the associated ambiguity.

Consider a uniform square tile which is placed over a
marked equal square on a table. Evidently it is then impossible
to determine without further inspection which one
of four positions the tile occupies. In fact, if we designate
its vertices in order by A, B, C, D, and mark the corresponding
positions on the table, the four possibilities are for the
corners A, B, C, D of the tile to appear respectively in the
positions A, B, C, D;  B, C, D, A;  C, D, A, B; and D, A, B, C.
These are obtained respectively from the first position by a

4 My translation.
5 It is of interest to recall that Leibniz was interested in ambiguity to the extent
of using a special notation v (Latin, vel ) for “or.” Thus the ambiguously defined
roots 1, 5 of x2-6x+5=0 would be written x = l v 5 by him.
______________________________________________________________________

null rotation ( I ), by a rotation through 90° (R), by a rotation
through 180° (S), and by a rotation through 270° (T).
Furthermore the combination of any two of these rotations
in succession gives another such rotation. Thus a rotation R
through 90° followed by a rotation S through 180° is equivalent
to a single rotation T through 270°, Le., RS = T. Consequently,
the "group" of four operations I, R, S, T has
the "multiplication table" shown here:

http://www.log24.com/log/pix10A/100614-BirkhoffTable.jpg
This table fully characterizes the group, and shows the exact
nature of the underlying ambiguity of position.
More generally, any collection of operations such that
the resultant of any two performed in succession is one of
them, while there is always some operation which undoes
what any operation does, forms a "group."
__________________________________________________

EXCERPT 2—

Up to the present point my aim has been to consider a
variety of applications of the Principle of Sufficient Reason,
without attempting any precise formulation of the Principle
itself. With these applications in mind I will venture to
formulate the Principle and a related Heuristic Conjecture
in quasi-mathematical form as follows:

PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON. If there appears
in any theory T a set of ambiguously determined ( i e .
symmetrically entering) variables, then these variables can themselves
be determined only to the extent allowed by the corresponding
group G. Consequently any problem concerning these variables
which has a uniquely determined solution, must itself be
formulated so as to be unchanged by the operations of the group
G ( i e . must involve the variables symmetrically).

HEURISTIC CONJECTURE. The final form of any
scientific theory Tis: (1) based on a few simple postulates; and
(2) contains an extensive ambiguity, associated symmetry, and
underlying group G, in such wise that, if the language and laws
of the theory of groups be taken for granted, the whole theory T
appears as nearly self-evident in virtue of the above Principle.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason and the Heuristic Conjecture,
as just formulated, have the advantage of not involving
excessively subjective ideas, while at the same time
retaining the essential kernel of the matter.

In my opinion it is essentially this principle and this
conjecture which are destined always to operate as the basic
criteria for the scientist in extending our knowledge and
understanding of the world.

It is also my belief that, in so far as there is anything
definite in the realm of Metaphysics, it will consist in further
applications of the same general type. This general conclu-
sion may be given the following suggestive symbolic form:

Image-- Birkhoff diagram relating Galois's theory of ambiguity to metaphysics

While the skillful metaphysical use of the Principle must
always be regarded as of dubious logical status, nevertheless
I believe it will remain the most important weapon of the
philosopher.

___________________________________________________________________________

A more recent lecture on the same subject —

"From Leibniz to Quantum World:
Symmetries, Principle of Sufficient Reason
and Ambiguity in the Sense of Galois
"

by Jean-Pierre Ramis (Johann Bernoulli Lecture at U. of Groningen, March 2005)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday October 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 10:00 AM
In memory of
Harish-Chandra,
who died at 60
on this date in 1983

  The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07A/071016-Harish-Chandra.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Harish-Chandra in 1981
(Photo by Herman Landshof)

Recent Log24 entries have parodied the use of the phrase “deep beauty” as the title of the Oct. 3-4 physics symposium of that name, which was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and sponsored by the Department of Philosophy at Princeton University.
Such parody was in part suggested by the symposium’s sources of financial and academic support. This support had, in the view of some, the effect of linking the symposium’s topic, the mathematics of quantum theory, with both religion (the Templeton Foundation) and philosophy (a field sometimes associated in popular thought– though not at Princeton— with quantum mysticism.)

As a corrective to the previous parodies here, the following material on the mathematician Harish-Chandra may help to establish that there is, in fact, such a thing as “deep beauty”– if not in physics, religion, or philosophy, at least in pure mathematics.

MacTutor History of Mathematics:

“Harish-Chandra worked at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton from 1963. He was appointed IBM-von Neumann Professor in 1968.”

R. P. Langlands (pdf, undated, apparently from a 1983 memorial talk):

“Almost immediately upon his arrival in Princeton he began working at a ferocious pace, setting standards that the rest of us may emulate but never achieve. For us there is a welter of semi-simple groups: orthogonal groups, symplectic groups, unitary groups, exceptional groups; and in our frailty we are often forced to treat them separately. For him, or so it appeared because his methods were always completely general, there was a single group. This was one of the sources of beauty of the subject in his hands, and I once asked him how he achieved it. He replied, honestly I believe, that he could think no other way. It is certainly true that he was driven back upon the simplifying properties of special examples only in desperate need and always temporarily.”

“It is difficult to communicate the grandeur of Harish-Chandra’s achievements and I have not tried to do so. The theory he created still stands– if I may be excused a clumsy simile– like a Gothic cathedral, heavily buttressed below but, in spite of its great weight, light and soaring in its upper reaches, coming as close to heaven as mathematics can. Harish, who was of a spiritual, even religious, cast and who liked to express himself in metaphors, vivid and compelling, did see, I believe, mathematics as mediating between man and what one can only call God. Occasionally, on a stroll after a seminar, usually towards evening, he would express his feelings, his fine hands slightly upraised, his eyes intent on the distant sky; but he saw as his task not to bring men closer to God but God closer to men. For those who can understand his work and who accept that God has a mathematical side, he accomplished it.”

For deeper views of his work, see

  1. Rebecca A. Herb, “Harish-Chandra and His Work” (pdf), Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, July 1991, and
  2. R. P. Langlands, “Harish-Chandra, 1923-1983” (pdf, 28 pp., Royal Society memoir, 1985)

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