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Beauty is not simplicity: an analysis of mathematicians' proof appraisals

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journal contribution
posted on 10.04.2015, 10:46 authored by Matthew InglisMatthew Inglis, Andrew Aberdein
What do mathematicians mean when they use terms such as 'deep', 'elegant', and 'beautiful'? By applying empirical methods developed by social psychologists, we demonstrate that mathematicians' appraisals of proofs vary on four dimensions: aesthetics, intricacy, utility, and precision. We pay particular attention to mathematical beauty and show that, contrary to the classical view, beauty and simplicity are almost entirely unrelated in mathematics.

Funding

This work was supported by a Royal Society Worshipful Company of Actuaries Research Fellowship.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Philosophia Mathematica

Volume

23

Issue

1

Pages

87 - 109

Citation

INGLIS, M. and ABERDEIN, A., 2014. Beauty is not simplicity: an analysis of mathematicians' proof appraisals. Philosophia Mathematica, 23 (1), pp.87-109

Publisher

© Oxford University Press

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2014

Notes

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Philosophia Mathematica following peer review. The version of record INGLIS, M. and ABERDEIN, A., 2014. Beauty is not simplicity: an analysis of mathematicians' proof appraisals. Philosophia Mathematica, 23 (1), pp. 87 - 109 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/philmat/nku014. This paper is closed access until 26th July 2015.

ISSN

0031-8019

eISSN

1744-6406

Language

en

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