Math Can Be Beautiful (08-16-19)

Researchers studying beauty have found that math can be beautiful, just like landscapes and sonatas. A study by Steinerberger and Johnson, published in Cognition,reports that “average Americans can assess mathematical arguments for beauty just as they can pieces of art or music. The beauty they discerned about the math was not one-dimensional either: Using nine criteria for beauty — such as elegance, intricacy, universality, etc. — 300 individuals had better-than-chance agreement about the specific ways that four different [mathematical] proofs were beautiful. . . . For the study, they [researchers] chose four each of mathematical arguments, landscape paintings, and [classical] piano sonatas.  . . . The researchers’ nine dimensions elaborated from Hardy’s six were: seriousness, universality, profundity, novelty, clarity, simplicity, elegance, intricacy, and sophistication. . . . for both the artworks and math arguments a high rating for elegance was most likely to predict a high rating for beauty.”

“Study Show We Like Our Math Like We Like Our Art:  Beautiful.” 2019.  Press release, Yale University,