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Using corpus linguistics to investigate mathematical explanation

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posted on 15.04.2019 by Juan P. Mejia-Ramos, Lara Alcock, Kristen Lew, Paolo Rago, Christopher J. Sangwin, Matthew Inglis
In this chapter we use methods of corpus linguistics to investigate the ways in which mathematicians describe their work as explanatory in their research papers. We analyse use of the words explain/explanation (and various related words and expressions) in a large corpus of texts containing research papers in mathematics and in physical sciences, comparing this with their use in corpora of general, day-to-day English. We find that although mathematicians do use this family of words, such use is considerably less prevalent in mathematics papers than in physics papers or in general English. Furthermore, we find that the proportion with which mathematicians use expressions related to ‘explaining why’ and ‘explaining how’ is significantly different to the equivalent proportion in physics and in general English. We discuss possible accounts for these differences.

Funding

This project was funded by the British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy

Pages

239 - 264

Citation

MEJIA-RAMOS, J.P. ... et al, 2019. Using corpus linguistics to investigate mathematical explanation. IN: Fischer, E. and Curtis, M. (eds). Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury, pp.239-264.

Publisher

Bloomsbury

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This book chapter was published in the book Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy. The definitive published version is available at https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/methodological-advances-in-experimental-philosophy-9781350068995/.

Publication date

2019

ISBN

9781350068995

Language

en

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