TY - GEN

T1 - The aesthetics of mathematical explanations

AU - Johnson, Samuel G. B.

AU - Steinerberger, Stefan

PY - 2018/8/25

Y1 - 2018/8/25

N2 - 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).

AB - 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).

M3 - Chapter in a published conference proceeding

SN - 9781510872059

T3 - Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society

SP - 572

EP - 577

BT - Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society

PB - Curran Associates, Inc.

ER -