Proofs for a price: Tomorrow’s ultra-rigorous mathematical culture

Bulletin (New Series) of the American Mathematical Society 61 (3):395–410 (2024)
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Abstract

Computational tools might tempt us to renounce complete cer- tainty. By forgoing of rigorous proof, we could get (very) probable results for a fraction of the cost. But is it really true that proofs (as we know and love them) can lead us to certainty? Maybe not. Proofs do not wear their correct- ness on their sleeve, and we are not infallible in checking them. This suggests that we need help to check our results. When our fellow mathematicians will be too tired or too busy to scrutinize our putative proofs, computer proof assistants could help. But feeding a mathematical argument to a computer is hard. Still, we might be willing to undertake the endeavor in view of the extra perks that formalization may bring—chiefly among them, an enhanced mathematical understanding.

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Silvia De Toffoli
University School of Advanced Studies IUSS Pavia

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