The aesthetics of mathematical explanations

Samuel G. B. Johnson, Stefan Steinerberger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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 languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
PublisherCurran Associates, Inc.
Pages572-577
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781510872059
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
ISSN (Electronic)1069-7977

Fingerprint

Mathematicians
Aesthetics
Mathematics
Piano music
Landscape Painting
Undergraduate
Rating
Artwork

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..

The aesthetics of mathematical explanations. / Johnson, Samuel G. B. ; Steinerberger, Stefan.

Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Curran Associates, Inc., 2018. p. 572-577 (Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Johnson, SGB & Steinerberger, S 2018, The aesthetics of mathematical explanations. in Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Curran Associates, Inc., pp. 572-577.
Johnson SGB, Steinerberger S. The aesthetics of mathematical explanations. In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Curran Associates, Inc. 2018. p. 572-577. (Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society).
Johnson, Samuel G. B. ; Steinerberger, Stefan. / The aesthetics of mathematical explanations. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Curran Associates, Inc., 2018. pp. 572-577 (Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society).
@inproceedings{3dae483c04264cb8925f3278ba98bba5,
title = "The aesthetics of mathematical explanations",
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).",
author = "Johnson, {Samuel G. B.} and Stefan Steinerberger",
year = "2018",
month = "8",
day = "25",
language = "English",
isbn = "9781510872059",
series = "Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society",
publisher = "Curran Associates, Inc.",
pages = "572--577",
booktitle = "Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society",
address = "USA United States",

}

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 - Conference contribution

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 -