Tijdschrift voor Filosofie

TitleSchoonheid in de wiskunde: Birkhoff Revisited
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsVan Bendegem, JPaul
JournalTijdschrift voor Filosofie

Everyone is familiar with the measure of beauty that has been proposed by Birkhoff, the famous formula M = O/C. Although I show that the formula in its original form cannot be maintained, I present a reinterpretation that adapts the formula for measuring the beauty of mathematical proofs. However, this type of measure is not the only aesthetic element in mathematics. There exists a 'romantic' side as well, to use the term introduced by François Le Lionnais. Thus, a more complex proposal of mathematical beauty is presented. Finally and as a consequence, I argue against the dichotomy that associates science, including mathematics, with the beauty of simplicity and that associates the arts with the beauty of complexity. As an example, the work of Oulipo, Raymond Queneau in particular, is briefly presented.

Citation Keyvan1998schoonheid