Is There Such a Thing As Math Without Numbers?
One reason I started this blog was because I had asked myself a question: Is there such a thing as Visual Math? I’m talking about a totally visual form of math – where there are no numbers involved (and no verbal language). Is this possible? If there are no numbers (or quantities, or any symbols that stand for numbers) can we still call it math?
Here are a few definitions of math:
Merriam-Webster defines it as “the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations”.
Wikipedia defines mathematics as “the study of quantity, structure, space, and change”.
These references to “space”, “structure”, and “change” certainly ground the notion of math in the context
of physical experience.
But math is genuinely abstract, and whether or not it is ultimately derived from earthly experience, it may
or may not refer to the physical world (as in many problems in number theory, for instance).
At any rate, is number really the essence of math?
This is not a new question, as explored in a book by Geoffrey Hellman.
I will instead ask whether math can be experienced, expressed, created, performed, manipulated, or acted-upon, using ONLY visual language, and WITHOUT numbers.
Is visual math simply a different way of thinking about numbers than reading and writing equations?
As you can see – I have lots of questions, and no answers!
I look forward to hearing what you think.