, Volume 35, Issue 11, pp 1825-1856

Towards a Coherent Theory of Physics and Mathematics: The Theory–Experiment Connection

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Abstract

The problem of how mathematics and physics are related at a foundational level is of interest. The approach taken here is to work towards a coherent theory of physics and mathematics together by examining the theory experiment connection. The role of an implied theory hierarchy and use of computers in comparing theory and experiment is described. The main idea of the paper is to tighten the theory experiment connection by bringing physical theories, as mathematical structures over C, the complex numbers, closer to what is actually done in experimental measurements and computations. The method replaces C by C n which is the set of pairs, R n ,I n , of n figure rational numbers in some basis. The properties of these numbers are based on those of numerical measurement outcomes for continuous variables. A model of space and time based on R n is discussed. The model is scale invariant with regions of constant step size interrupted by exponential jumps. A method of taking the limit n→∞ to obtain locally flat continuum-based space and time is outlined. Also R n based space is invariant under scale transformations. These correspond to expansion and contraction of space relative to a flat background. The location of the origin, which is a space and time singularity, does not change under these transformations. Some properties of quantum mechanics, based on C n and on R n space are briefly investigated.