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The "Structure" of Physics: A Case Study

North, Jill (2009) The "Structure" of Physics: A Case Study. UNSPECIFIED.

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    Abstract

    We are used to talking about the “structure” posited by a given theory of physics, such as the spacetime structure of relativity. What is “structure”? What does the mathematical structure used to formulate a theory tell us about the physical world according to the theory? What if there are different mathematical formulations of a given theory? Do different formulations posit different structures, or are they merely notational variants? I consider the case of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian classical mechanics. I argue that, contrary to standard wisdom, these are not genuinely equivalent theories: they differ in statespace structure. I suggest that we should be realists about statespace structure.


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    Item Type: Other
    Keywords: Structure; classical mechanics; statespace; Lagrangian mechanics; Hamiltonian mechanics.
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
    Specific Sciences > Physics
    Depositing User: Jill North
    Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:18
    Item ID: 4961
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4961

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