The Aesthetics of Mathematical Proofs

  • Author / Creator
    Paterson, Grace D
  • Mathematical theories and entities may be praised for many reasons: for their truth, certainty, depth, applicability, fruitfulness, and beauty. Of these virtues, some (truth, certainty, and to a lesser degree applicability) have received a great deal of philosophical scrutiny and analysis while the others have remained vague and mysterious. This thesis attempts to dispel some of the fog around one member of the latter category, namely beauty. While many objects of mathematics are of aesthetic interest, this thesis focuses specifically on the aesthetics of proofs because of their central position in mathematical practice. It is argued that proofs are conceptual artefacts, and that our perception of them is framed by how we use them. Contemporary theories of functional beauty are then adapted in order to understand and analyse aesthetic claims made about proofs.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2013
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Hazen, Allen (Philosophy)
    • Norris, Stephen (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Pelletier, Jeffry (Philosophy)