Deus ex Machina and the Aesthetics of Proof

Cain, Alan J.
September 2010
Mathematical Intelligencer;Sep2010, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p7
Academic Journal
The article presents the author's views on the unexpectedness and inevitability, two of the aesthetic qualities mathematician G. H. Hardy identified as being properties of beautiful proofs. It is argued that the literary concept of deus ex machina can be used to clarify the notion of inevitability in proof and reconcile it with unexpectedness. Deus ex machina refers to a type of plot device used to resolve a seemingly intractable situation.


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