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Georg Schiemer

How mathematics became what it is today

In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a philosophy research group at the University of Vienna investigated how "structuralism" became established in the field of mathematics and decisively influenced its current success.

Mathematics is a special science in the sense that it is not entirely clear what it is about. How real mathematical objects are and what significance this question has is something people have been pondering since ancient times. For the practice of mathematics, it is sufficient to define certain properties of mathematical objects, such as natural numbers, using some simple statements called axioms. But this does not explain what numbers actually are.

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