EVENT: Talking Allowed - Beauty in Unexpected Places: aesthetics and mathematics
|Talking Allowed - Beauty in Unexpected Places: aesthetics and mathematics
Choices in mathematics are often made for aesthetic reasons: a degree of freedom is added here to preserve symmetry; a partial derivative is employed there because it establishes harmony and so on. The use of aesthetic considerations in mathematics hides a deep mystery. Mathematicians make progress by following their aesthetic instincts. Soon enough their mathematical results are picked up in physics and used to describe nature.
One striking example of contemporary relevance, is the use of results in number theory for cryptography. According to the number theorists G. H. Hardy, mathematicians pursuing results in number theory were producing art. This artistic endeavour seemed all but useless until it was picked up as the basis for cryptography and, subsequently, cyber security as we know it today (your home wi is protected by number theoretic cyphers, involving primes).
Is, then, the beauty of mathematics a guide to the truth? And if so, what implications does this have for our understanding of mathematical and artistic practice and their relationship to the scientific method?
‘Talking Allowed’ is a new series of presentations offered by the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
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