BSA Connections Conference: Aesthetics in Mathematics
University of East Anglia, Norwich, 5-7 December 2014

It is a common thought that mathematics can be not only true but also beautiful, and some of the greatest mathematicians have attached central importance to the aesthetic merit of their work. Many have derived aesthetic pleasure from mathematical research, pointing out the incomparable beauty and elegance of particular theorems, proofs and theories. As the French mathematician and theoretical physicist Henri Poincaré put it, mathematical beauty is a "real aesthetic feeling that all true mathematicians recognise". Others have gone further, recognising mathematical beauty not only as a well-known phenomenon, but as one of the key motivations behind the formulation of mathematical proofs and as a criterion for choosing one mathematical theorem over another. Thus, Hermann Weyl famously declared: "My work always tried to unite the true with the beautiful, but when I had to choose one or the other, I usually chose the beautiful".

This conference seeks to address questions that arise out of this tendency, prevalent among mathematicians, to call theories, proofs and definitions ‘beautiful' or ‘ugly' and to judge them on the basis of aesthetic standards.

We support the Gendered Conference Campaign.

Invited Speakers
John Bell (Western Ontario)
Catarina Dutilh-Novaes (Groeningen)
Catherine Elgin (Harvard)
Thomas Forster (Cambridge)
Kenneth Manders (Pittsburgh)
James McAllister (Leiden)
Elisabeth Schellekens (Uppsala/Durham)
Irina Starikova (Sao Paulo)
Cain Todd (Lancaster)

This event is organised by Angela Breitenbach (Cambridge), Davide Rizza (UEA) and Fiona Milway. It is supported by a BSA Connections Grant.

Conference programme -

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