On the foundations of constructive mathematics – especially in relation to the theory of continuous functions

Foundations of Science 10 (3):249-324 (2004)


We discuss the foundations of constructive mathematics, including recursive mathematics and intuitionism, in relation to classical mathematics. There are connections with the foundations of physics, due to the way in which the different branches of mathematics reflect reality. Many different axioms and their interrelationship are discussed. We show that there is a fundamental problem in BISH (Bishop’s school of constructive mathematics) with regard to its current definition of ‘continuous function’. This problem is closely related to the definition in BISH of ‘locally compact’. Possible approaches to this problem are discussed. Topology seems to be a key to understanding many issues. We offer several new simplifying axioms, which can form bridges between the various branches of constructive mathematics and classical mathematics (‘reuniting the antipodes’). We give a simplification of basic intuitionistic theory, especially with regard to so-called ‘bar induction’. We then plead for a limited number of axiomatic systems, which differentiate between the various branches of mathematics. Finally, in the appendix we offer BISH an elegant topological definition of ‘locally compact’, which unlike the current definition is equivalent to the usual classical and/or intuitionistic definition in classical and intuitionistic mathematics, respectively.

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