The Beauty of Equations

Robert Crease
Proceedings of Bridges 2013: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2013)
Pages 19–26 Regular Papers


This paper discusses grounds for ascribing beauty to equations. Philosophical accounts of beauty in the context of science tend to stress one or more of three aspects of beautiful objects: depth, economy, and definitiveness. The paper considers several cases that engage these aspects in different ways, depending on whether the equation is considered as a signpost, as a stand-in for a phenomenon, as making a disciplinary transformation, or as inspiring a personal revelation.