Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Purely Aesthetic

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:00 AM

G. H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology —

What ‘purely aesthetic’ qualities can we distinguish in such theorems as Euclid’s or Pythagoras’s?

I will not risk more than a few disjointed remarks. In both theorems (and in the theorems, of course, I include the proofs) there is a very high degree of unexpectedness, combined with inevitability and economy. The arguments take so odd and surprising a form; the weapons used seem so childishly simple when compared with the far-reaching results; but there is no escape from the conclusions. There are no complications of detail—one line of attack is enough in each case; and this is true too of the proofs of many much more difficult theorems, the full appreciation of which demands quite a high degree of technical proficiency. We do not want many ‘variations’ in the proof of a mathematical theorem: ‘enumeration of cases’, indeed, is one of the duller forms of mathematical argument. A mathematical proof should resemble a simple and clear-cut constellation, not a scattered cluster in the Milky Way. 

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