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You don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate beauty in complex math, according to a new joint study by researchers at Yale University and the University of Bath.
A group of volunteers with limited math backgrounds were asked to compare mathematical proofs to landscape paintings and classical piano pieces.
It was found the participants were able to identify how “elegant, profound, clear, etc., each of the mathematical arguments” were, according to a statement by the researchers.
“Laypeople not only had similar intuitions about the beauty of math as they did about the beauty of art but also had similar intuitions about beauty as each other,” University of Bath psychologist and study co-author Dr. Samuel G.B.Johnson said.
“In other words, there was a consensus about what makes something beautiful, regardless of modality.”
The study’s authors now want to test the limitations of their study to see if the results would be the same with different pieces of music, artwork and mathematical proofs.
The findings could provide insight into how teachers can make math more engaging and accessible for students.
“And that might be useful in terms of encouraging more people to enter the field of mathematics,” Johnson said.
The findings have been published in the science journal Cognition.