PhilSci Archive

Who's afraid of coordinate systems? An essay on representation of spacetime structure

Wallace, David (2016) Who's afraid of coordinate systems? An essay on representation of spacetime structure. [Preprint]

[img] PDF
coord_short.pdf

Download (366kB)

Abstract

Coordinate-based approaches to physical theories remain standard in mainstream physics but are largely eschewed in foundational discussion in favour of coordinate-free differential-geometric approaches. I defend the conceptual and mathematical legitimacy of the coordinate-based approach for foundational work. In doing so, I provide an account of the Kleinian conception of geometry as a theory of invariance under symmetry groups; I argue that this conception continues to play a very substantial role in contemporary mathematical physics and indeed that supposedly ``coordinate-free'' differential geometry relies centrally on this conception of geometry. I discuss some foundational and pedagogical advantages of the coordinate-based formulation and briefly connect it to some remarks of Norton on the historical development of geometry in physics during the establishment of the general theory of relativity.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wallace, Daviddavid.wallace@balliol.ox.ac.uk
Keywords: coordinates; geometry; spacetime
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: David Wallace
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 22:34
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 22:34
Item ID: 11988
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: March 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11988

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item