INGLIS, M. and ABERDEIN, A., 2016. Diversity in proof appraisal. IN: Larvor, Brendan (Ed.). Mathematical Cultures: The London Meetings 2012-2014. Basel: Birkhäuser, pp. 163 - 180.
Trends in the History of Science;
We investigated whether mathematicians typically agree about the qualities
of mathematical proofs. Between-mathematician consensus in proof appraisals is an
implicit assumption of many arguments made by philosophers of mathematics, but to
our knowledge the issue has not previously been empirically investigated. We asked
a group of mathematicians to assess a specific proof on four dimensions, using the
framework identified by Inglis and Aberdein (2014). We found widespread disagreement
between our participants about the aesthetics, intricacy, precision and utility of the
proof, suggesting that a priori assumptions about the consistency of mathematical
proof appraisals are unreasonable.
Closed access. This is a chapter from the book, Mathematical Cultures: The London Meetings 2012-2014.