Analysis of online mathematics forums can help reveal how explanation is used by mathematicians; we contend that this use of explanation may help to provide an informal conceptualization of simplicity. We extracted six conjectures from recent philosophical work on the occurrence and characteristics of explanation in mathematics. We then tested these conjectures against a corpus derived from online mathematical discussions. To this end, we employed two techniques, one based on indicator terms, the other on a random sample of comments lacking (...) such indicators. Our findings suggest that explanation is widespread in mathematical practice and that it occurs not only in proofs but also in other mathematical contexts. Our work also provides further evidence for the utility of empirical methods in addressing philosophical problems. (shrink)
The last century has seen many disciplines place a greater priority on understanding how people reason in a particular domain, and several illuminating theories of informal logic and argumentation have been developed. Perhaps owing to their diverse backgrounds, there are several connections and overlapping ideas between the theories, which appear to have been overlooked. We focus on Peirce’s development of abductive reasoning , Toulmin’s argumentation layout , Lakatos’s theory of reasoning in mathematics , Pollock’s notions of counterexample , and argumentation (...) schemes constructed by Walton et al. , and explore some connections between, as well as within, the theories. For instance, we investigate Peirce’s abduction to deal with surprising situations in mathematics, represent Pollock’s examples in terms of Toulmin’s layout, discuss connections between Toulmin’s layout and Walton’s argumentation schemes, and suggest new argumentation schemes to cover the sort of reasoning that Lakatos describes, in which arguments may be accepted as faulty, but revised, rather than being accepted or rejected. We also consider how such theories may apply to reasoning in mathematics: in particular, we aim to build on ideas such as Dove’s , which help to show ways in which the work of Lakatos fits into the informal reasoning community. (shrink)
The Argument Web is maturing as both a platform built upon a synthesis of many contemporary theories of argumentation in philosophy and also as an ecosystem in which various applications and application components are contributed by different research groups around the world. It already hosts the largest publicly accessible corpora of argumentation and has the largest number of interoperable and cross compatible tools for the analysis, navigation and evaluation of arguments across a broad range of domains, languages and activity types. (...) Such interoperability is key in allowing innovative combinations of tool and data reuse that can further catalyse the development of the field of computational argumentation. The aim of this paper is to summarise the key foundations, the recent advances and the goals of the Argument Web, with a particular focus on demonstrating the relevance to, and roots in, philosophical argumentation theory. (shrink)
To adequately model mathematical arguments the analyst must be able to represent the mathematical objects under discussion and the relationships between them, as well as inferences drawn about these objects and relationships as the discourse unfolds. We introduce a framework with these properties, which has been used to analyse mathematical dialogues and expository texts. The framework can recover salient elements of discourse at, and within, the sentence level, as well as the way mathematical content connects to form larger argumentative structures. (...) We show how the framework might be used to support computational reasoning, and argue that it provides a more natural way to examine the process of proving theorems than do Lamport’s structured proofs. (shrink)
We argue that there are mutually beneficial connections to be made between ideas in argumentation theory and the philosophy of mathematics, and that these connections can be suggested via the process of producing computational models of theories in these domains. We discuss Lakatos’s work (Proofs and Refutations, 1976) in which he championed the informal nature of mathematics, and our computational representation of his theory. In particular, we outline our representation of Cauchy’s proof of Euler’s conjecture, in which we use work (...) by Haggith on argumentation structures, and identify connections between these structures and Lakatos’s methods. (shrink)
We describe recent developments in research on mathematical practice and cognition and outline the nine contributions in this special issue of topiCS. We divide these contributions into those that address (a) mathematical reasoning: patterns, levels, and evaluation; (b) mathematical concepts: evolution and meaning; and (c) the number concept: representation and processing.
As the average age of the population increases, so too do the number of people living with chronic illnesses. With limited resources available, the development of dialogue-based e-health systems that provide justified general health advice offers a cost-effective solution to the management of chronic conditions. It is however imperative that such systems are responsible in their approach. We present in this paper two main challenges for the deployment of e-health systems, that have a particular relevance to dialogue and argumentation: collecting (...) and handling health data, and trust. For both challenges, we look at specific issues therein, outlining their importance in general, and describing their relevance to dialogue and argumentation. Finally, we go on to propose six recommendations for handling these issues, towards addressing the main challenges themselves, that act both as general advice for dialogue and argumentation research in the e-health domain, and as a foundation for future work on this topic. (shrink)
Records of online collaborative mathematical activity provide us with a novel, rich, searchable, accessible and sizeable source of data for empirical investigations into mathematical practice. In this paper we discuss how the resources of crowdsourced mathematics can be used to help formulate and answer questions about mathematical practice, and what their limitations might be. We describe quantitative approaches to studying crowdsourced mathematics, reviewing work from cognitive history (comparing individual and collaborative proofs); social psychology (on the prospects for a measure of (...) collective intelligence); human–computer interaction (on the factors that led to the success of one such project); network analysis (on the differences between collaborations on open research problems and known-but-hard problems); and argumentation theory (on modelling the argument structures of online collaborations). We also give an overview of qualitative approaches, reviewing work from empirical philosophy (on explanation in crowdsourced mathematics); sociology of scientific knowledge (on conventions and conversations in online mathematics); and ethnography (on contrasting conceptions of collaboration). We suggest how these diverse methods can be applied to crowdsourced mathematics and when each might be appropriate. (shrink)
The target article by Cohen Kadosh & Walsh (CK&W) raises questions as to the precise nature of the notion of abstractness that is intended. We note that there are various uses of the term, and also more generally in mathematics, and suggest that abstractness is not an all-or-nothing property as the authors suggest. An alternative possibility raised by the analysis of numerical representation into automatic and intentional codes is suggested.