Corpus linguistics Mathematical language Mathematical explanation
Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of American on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (SIGMAA on RUME)
MEJIA-RAMOS, J.P. and INGLIS, M., 2017. “Explanatory” talk in mathematics research papers. Presented at the Twentieth Annual Conference on Research on Undergraduate Mathematics Education, San Diego, February 23-25th.
In this paper we explore the ways in which mathematicians talk about explanation in their research papers. We analyze the use of the words explain/explanation (and various related words) in a large corpus of text containing research papers in both mathematics and physical sciences. We found that mathematicians do not frequently use this family of words and that their use is considerably more prevalent in physics papers than in mathematics papers. In particular, we found that physicists talk about explaining why disproportionately more often than mathematicians. We discuss some possible accounts for these differences.