In an article published in Discover magazine in 1985, Martin Gardner wrote this:
As it happens, the thousandth decimal of pi is 9... The question: Was [this assertion] true before the 1949 calculation? To those of the realist school, the sentence expresses a timeless truth whether anyone knows it or not... [Others] prefer to think of mathematical objects as having no reality independent of the human mind.
This problem is quite old, as we have been discussing it for over two thousand years. The question about whether mathematical objects really exist or are a pure creation of our mind is a particular case of another problem, much more general, that debates whether ideas and concepts (like the dog species) really exist, or just this dog and that dog exist. This is the problem of universals, famous in the Middle Ages, which has not yet been solved to everyone’s satisfaction. In fact, at present, this debate is more virulent than ever.