### Abstract

Mathematicians often describe arguments as “beautiful” or “dull,” and famous scientists have claimed that mathematical beauty is a guide toward the truth. Do laypeople, like mathematicians and scientists, perceive mathematics through an aesthetic lens? We show here that they do. Two studies asked people to rate the similarity of simple mathematical arguments to pieces of classical piano music (Study 1) or to landscape paintings (Study 2). In both cases, there was internal consensus about the pairings of arguments and artworks at greater than chance levels, particularly for visual art. There was also some evidence for correspondence to the aesthetic ratings of undergraduate mathematics students (Study 1) and of professional mathematicians (Studies 1 and 2).

Original language | English |
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Title of host publication | Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society |

Publisher | Curran Associates, Inc. |

Pages | 572-577 |

Number of pages | 6 |

ISBN (Print) | 9781510872059 |

Publication status | Published - 25 Aug 2018 |

### Publication series

Name | Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society |
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ISSN (Electronic) | 1069-7977 |

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## Cite this

Johnson, S. G. B., & Steinerberger, S. (2018). The aesthetics of mathematical explanations. In

*Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society*(pp. 572-577). (Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society). Curran Associates, Inc..