1995-08-07 - Quibbling about definitions of “proof”

Header Data

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 096910121e38037aef2b4b9bb6400ee771c7ce372222b3a596adddd9add4d577
Message ID: <ac4b096d0102100487ad@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1995-08-07 07:14:58 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 7 Aug 95 00:14:58 PDT

Raw message

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 95 00:14:58 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Quibbling about definitions of "proof"
Message-ID: <ac4b096d0102100487ad@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Look, you all, I'm *really sorry* I even brought up the subject of proofs
of correctness!

As I feared, any mention of certain loaded words immediately brings the
quibblers out of their lairs to dissect the "real meaning" of one or more

I had thought that my carefully worded mention of the Boyer-Moore prover
and that this means little for actual implementations would deter quibbling
over the cosmic significance of "proof." (An interesting topic, by the way,
as Ray's knowledgeable article makes clear. But metamathematics is an
arcane subject and short articles are rarely persuasive...we debated the
same stuff a couple of years ago on the Extropians list.)

With 700 subscribers, quibbling is the usual state of affairs. No matter
what is said, someone will quibble over terms or meanings. No wonder it is
the major venal sin at West Point.

The Boyer-Moorer theorem prover is an accepted ("Huh? Define what you mean
by "accepted"! Not all of us accept that term.") term of art. If you
disagree, or wish to raise the possibility that the computer glitched
during the proof, there are entire newsgroups devoted to such arcania.

On a more mundane note, my Internet Service Provider of the past 6 weeks
just sent out an urgent notice tonight announcing that they are no longer
"sensemedia.net" and have become "got.net" (as in "got net?" as in "got
milk?). This means my 3 years as "tcmay@netcom.com" is followed by 6 weeks
as "tcmay@sensemedia.net" and an as-yet-undetermined time as
"tcmay@got.net" (at least until the "Got milk?" ad people get wind of this
pun and tell them to change to something else.

--Tim May

Special note: My ISP has changed its domain name from "sensemedia.net" to
"got.net" (as in "got milk?"), so I have to again ask you all to bear with
me and use my new e-mail address, "tcmay@got.net".
Timothy C. May            | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
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