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**1 - 2**of**2**### The Sources of Certainty in Computation and Formal Systems

, 1999

"... In his Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Rene Descartes sought \clear and certain knowledge of all that is useful in life." Almost three centuries later, in \The foundations of mathematics," David Hilbert tried to \recast mathematical deniti ..."

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In his Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Rene Descartes sought \clear and certain knowledge of all that is useful in life." Almost three centuries later, in \The foundations of mathematics," David Hilbert tried to \recast mathematical denitions and inferences in such a way that they are unshakable." Hilbert's program relied explicitly on formal systems (equivalently, computational systems) to provide certainty in mathematics. The concepts of computation and formal system were not dened in his time, but Descartes' method may be understood as seeking certainty in essentially the same way. In this article, I explain formal systems as concrete artifacts, and investigate the way in which they provide a high level of certainty| arguably the highest level achievable by rational discourse. The rich understanding of formal systems achieved by mathematical logic and computer science in this century illuminates the nature of programs,...

### The Sources of Certainty in Computation and Formal Systems

"... In his Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Rene Descartes sought \clear and certain knowledge of all that is useful in life." Almost three centuries later, in \The foundations of mathematics," David Hilbert tried to \recast mathematical deniti ..."

Abstract
- Add to MetaCart

In his Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, Rene Descartes sought \clear and certain knowledge of all that is useful in life." Almost three centuries later, in \The foundations of mathematics," David Hilbert tried to \recast mathematical denitions and inferences in such a way that they are unshakable." Hilbert's program relied explicitly on formal systems (equivalently, computational systems) to provide certainty in mathematics. The concepts of computation and formal system were not dened in his time, but Descartes' method may be understood as seeking certainty in essentially the same way. In this article, I explain formal systems as concrete artifacts, and investigate the way in which they provide a high level of certainty| arguably the highest level achievable by rational discourse. The rich understanding of formal systems achieved by mathematical logic and computer science in this century illuminates the nature of programs,...