27 Mar 00:04 2006

## Foundations?

F W Lawvere <wlawvere <at> buffalo.edu>

2006-03-26 22:04:38 GMT

2006-03-26 22:04:38 GMT

Down with "Foundations"! Up with algebra! Dear Friends, Presumably I am among those who are being "vilified" as "lovers of categories as foundation". By avoiding any precise definition, such a formulation might appeal to the widespread justified boredom induced by the past hundred years of "foundations as justification". Whenever I used the word "foundation" in my writings over the past forty years, I have explicitly rejected that reactionary use of the term and instead used the definition implicit in the work of my teachers Truesdell and Eilenberg. Namely, an important component of mathematical practice is the careful study of historical and contemporary analysis, geometry, etc. to extract the essential recurring concepts and constructions; making those concepts and constructions (such as homomorphism, functional, adjoint functor, etc.) explicit provides powerful guidance for further unified development of all mathematical subjects, old and new. What is the primary tool for such summing up of the essence of ongoing mathematics? Algebra! Nodal points in the progress of this kind of research occur when, as is the case with the finite number of axioms for the metacategory of categories, all that we know so far can be expressed in a single sort of algebra. I am proud to have participated with Eilenberg, Mac Lane, Freyd, and many others, in bringing about the contemporary awareness of Algebra as Category Theory Had it not been for the century of excessive attention given to the alleged possibility that mathematics is inconsistent, with the accompanying degradation of the F-word, we would still be using it in the sense known to the general public: the search for what is "basic". We, who supposedly know the explicit algebra of homomorphisms, functionals, etc. are long remiss in our duty to find ways to utilize those concepts also in guiding high school calculus. Best wishes, Bill Bibliography: - The Category of Categories as a Foundation for Mathematics, La Jolla conference 1965, Springer (1966) - Adjointness in Foundations, Dialectica, (1969), to be reprinted in TAC - Foundations and Applications: Axiomatization and Education, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, (2003) vol 9, pp 213-224 - Sets for Mathematics, w/ Bob Rosebrugh, Cambridge Univ. Press, (2003)************************************************************ F. William Lawvere Mathematics Department, State University of New York 244 Mathematics Building, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260-2900 USA Tel. 716-645-6284 HOMEPAGE: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~wlawvere************************************************************