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Mathematicians’ assessments of the explanatory value of proofs
journal contributionposted on 15.04.2021, 10:40 by Juan Pablo Mejía Ramos, Tanya Evans, Colin Rittberg, Matthew Inglis
The literature on mathematical explanation contains numerous examples of explanatory, and not so explanatory proofs. In this paper we report results of an empirical study aimed at investigating mathematicians’ notion of explanatoriness, and its relationship to accounts of mathematical explanation. Using a Comparative Judgement approach, we asked 38 mathematicians to assess the explanatory value of several proofs of the same proposition. We found an extremely high level of agreement among mathematicians, and some inconsistencies between their assessments and claims in the literature regarding the explanatoriness of certain types of proofs.
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- Mathematics Education Centre