– Any ﬁnite mathematical structure can be encoded as aﬁnite string of integers, which can in turn be encoded as a singlebit string or integer. The same applies to computable inﬁnitemathematical structures as discussed in Appendix A.
Mathematical structure EncodingThe empty set 100The set of 5 elements 105The trivial group
11220000110Boolean algebra 11220001110The group
In Appendix A, we give our convention for encoding
ﬁnite mathematical structure, involving arbitrarilymany entities, entity types and relations, as a ﬁnite se-quence of integers. Our present example corresponds to“11220000110”, and Table 1 lists a few other simple ex-amples. Appendix A also covers inﬁnite mathematicalstructures more relevant to physics,
, vector ﬁeldsand Lie Groups, and how each of these can be encodedas a ﬁnite-length bit string. In all cases, there are manyequivalent ways of describing the same structure, and aparticular mathematical structure can be deﬁned as an
equivalence class of descriptions
. Thus although any onedescription involves some degree of arbitrariness (in no-tation,
), there is nothing arbitrary about the math-ematical structure itself.Putting it diﬀerently, the trick is to “mod out the bag-gage”, deﬁning a mathematical structure by a descriptionthereof modulo any freedom in notation. Analogously,the number 4 is well-deﬁned even though we humans havemultiple ways of referring to it, like “IV”, “four”, “cua-tro”, “fyra”,
C. Implications for a Mathematical Universe
In summary, there are two key points to take awayfrom our discussion above and in Appendix A:1. The ERH implies that a “theory of everything” hasno baggage.2. Something that has a baggage-free description isprecisely a mathematical structure.Taken together, this implies the Mathematical UniverseHypothesis formulated on the ﬁrst page of this article,
, that the external physical reality described by theTOE is a mathematical structure.
In the philosophy literature, the name “structural realism” hasbeen coined for the doctrine that the physical domain of a truetheory corresponds to a mathematical structure , and the name“universal structural realism” has been used for the hypothesis
Before elaborating on this, let us consider a few histor-ical examples to illustrate what it means for the physicalworld to be a mathematical structure:1.
Newtonian Gravity of point particles:
minimizing the Newtonian action.2.
A 3+1-dimensional pseudo-Riemannian manifold with tensor ﬁelds obeyingpartial diﬀerential equations of, say, Einstein-Maxwell-theory with a perfect ﬂuid component.3.
Quantum Field Theory:
obeying certain Lorentz-invariant partial dif-ferential equations and commutation relationships,acting on an abstract Hilbert space.(Of course, the true mathematical structure isomorphicto our world, if it exists, has not yet been found.)When considering such examples, we need to distin-guish between two diﬀerent ways of viewing the externalphysical reality: the outside view or
of amathematician studying the mathematical structure andthe inside view or
of an observer living init.
A ﬁrst subtlety in relating the two perspectives in-volves time. Recall that a mathematical structure is anabstract, immutable entity existing outside of space andtime. If history were a movie, the structure would there-fore correspond not to a single frame of it but to theentire videotape. Consider the ﬁrst example above, aworld made up of classical point particles moving aroundin three-dimensional Euclidean space under the inﬂuenceof Newtonian gravity. In the four-dimensional spacetimeof the bird perspective, these particle trajectories resem-ble a tangle of spaghetti. If the frog sees a particle movingwith constant velocity, the bird sees a straight strand of uncooked spaghetti. If the frog sees a pair of orbitingparticles, the bird sees two spaghetti strands intertwinedlike a double helix. To the frog, the world is described byNewton’s laws of motion and gravitation. To the bird,it is described by the geometry of the pasta, obeying themathematical relations corresponding to minimizing theNewtonian action.A second subtlety in relating the two perspectives in-volves the observer. In this Newtonian example, thefrog (a self-aware substructure, or “SAS”) itself must bemerely a thick bundle of pasta, whose highly complex in-tertwining corresponds to a cluster of particles that storeand process information. In the General Relativity ex-ample above, the frog is a tube through spacetime, athick version of what Einstein referred to as a world-line. The location of the tube would specify its position
that the physical universe is isomorphic to a mathematical struc-ture.
Related ideas on “observation from inside/outside the universe”(albeit in a less mathematical context) trace back to Archimedesand the 18th century physicist B. J. Boskovic — see[26–28].