An axiom is a premise or starting point of reasoning. As classically conceived, an axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy. The word comes from the Greek ἀξίωμα 'that which is thought worthy or fit,' or 'that which commends itself as evident.' As used in modern logic, an axiom is simply a premise or starting point for reasoning. Axioms define and delimit the realm of analysis. In other words, an axiom is a logical statement that is assumed to be true. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted within the particular domain of analysis, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory and domain dependent) truths. An axiom is defined as a mathematical statement that is accepted as being true without a mathematical proof.
In mathematics, the term axiom is used in two related but distinguishable senses: "logical axioms" and "non-logical axioms". In both senses, an axiom is any mathematical statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Unlike theorems, axioms (unless redundant) cannot be derived by principles of deduction, nor are they demonstrable by mathematical proofs, simply because they are starting points; there is nothing else from which they logically follow (otherwise they would be classified as theorems).
Logical axioms are usually statements that are taken to be universally true (e.g., (A and B) implies A), while non-logical axioms (e.g., a + b = b + a) are actually defining properties for the domain of a specific mathematical theory (such as arithmetic). When used in the latter sense, "axiom," "postulate", and "assumption" may be used interchangeably. In general, a non-logical axiom is not a self-evident truth, but rather a formal logical expression used in deduction to build a mathematical theory. To axiomatize a system of knowledge is to show that its claims can be derived from a small, well-understood set of sentences (the axioms). There are typically multiple ways to axiomatize a given mathematical domain.
Famous quotes containing the word axiom:
“The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood.... For the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid.”
—Edgar Allan Poe (18091845)
“You are bothered, I suppose, by the idea that you cant possibly believe in miracles and mysteries, and therefore cant make a good wife for Hazard. You might just as well make yourself unhappy by doubting whether you would make a good wife to me because you cant believe the first axiom in Euclid. There is no science which does not begin by requiring you to believe the incredible.”
—Henry Brooks Adams (18381918)
“Its an old axiom of mine: marry your enemies and behead your friends.”
—Robert N. Lee. Rowland V. Lee. King Edward IV (Ian Hunter)