Tribute to Invariance
Importance and Abstraction of Invariance
Various conservation or invariance principles form a foundation of physical and chemical sciences. Writes I.Stewart [Stw]:
According to G.Polya [Po1, Po2], analogy seems to have a share in all discoveries... A legend ascribes the first ever mathematical proofs to Thales of Miletus (c. 600 B.C.) who is reputed to have appealed to the symmetry properties of the isosceles triangle and the circle. Mathematics is often [Dev] defined as the science of patterns while the desktop paradigm revolutionized (in fact, created) home computing. Humans could not have formed the abstraction of number without first developing the concept of sameness which is correspondence and, when strict, is equivalence while, when relaxed, relates to similarity.
All these terms symbolize several related ideas that, of necessity, permeate all branches of mathematics. Continuity is invariance of nearness. Fixed points are invariant under transformations. Commutative and associative laws originate with invariance of the result of counting objects under modification of enumeration order. Patterns are recurrent, regular attributes of world phenomena or abstract examples. Physical laws imply regularity without which there would not be much to talk about. Nor there would be anybody to do the talking.
Copyright © 1997 Alexander Bogomolny