Mathematics and Mathematization of Physical Theory: Historical and Conceptual Aspects

Time and Venue:
22 and 23 June 2018
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Institute of Mathematics
Raum, Staudinger Weg 9, 55099 Mainz

Mathematics has evolved into an independent field of study with an inherent tendency to define its subject matter autonomously, without reference to other sciences. Historically, the distinction between mathematical and empirical concepts is often less clear. Symmetries of paperfolds, oscillations in population dynamics, properties of relativistic spacetime, or the Higgs mass are examples of empirically relevant, yet highly mathematized concepts. Although mathematical concepts and theories develop autonomously, they regularly find their way back to the physical sciences by application or other ways of mathematization. As a result, many special sciences make essential use of mathematical concepts to a considerable extent. This workshop explores aspects of mathematization as a dialectic between autonomy and application of mathematics both from historical and conceptual perspectives.


Arianna Borelli (Berlin):
"The Born-Wiener paper on quantum theory (1926): operators between physics, mathematics and electrical engineering"

Michael Friedman (Berlin):
“On “folded” curves and folded surfaces: (attempts of) visualisation of the Weierstraß function"

Marta Jordi Taltavull (Mainz)
"From a physical model to a mathematical tool: the resonance model in optics from ether theories to quantum mechanics"

Tinne Hoff Kjeldsen (Copenhagen) and Andrea Loettgers (Bern):
"Nicolas Rashesky and Alfred Lotka: Different modelling strategies in the beginning of mathematical biology in the early 20th century"

Johannes Lenhard (Bielefeld):
"The Tumultuous 1890s: Anti-Mathematicians and the Mathematization of Engineering"

Tim Räz (Bern):
"Euler's Königsberg: The Explanatory Power of Mathematics"

Tilman Sauer (Mainz):
"How to Interpret Non-Riemannian Geometry"

Scott Walter (Nantes):
"Van der Pol and the Van der Pol Equation"