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Keywords:

  • proof;
  • mathematical proof;
  • mathematical practice;
  • Web;
  • communication media;
  • virtual world;
  • crowdsourcing;
  • proof-event;
  • Joseph Amadee Goguen;
  • Timothy Gowers

Abstract

The Web may critically transform the way we understand the activity of proving. The Web as a collaborative medium allows the active participation of people with different backgrounds, interests, viewpoints, and styles. Mathematical formal proofs are inadequate for capturing Web-based proofs. This article claims that Web provings can be studied as a particular type of Goguen's proof-events. Web-based proof-events have a social component, communication medium, prover-interpreter interaction, interpretation process, understanding and validation, historical component, and styles. To demonstrate its claim, the article discusses the Kumo and Polymath projects, both of which employ Web-based communication as part of proving. Web proving is a novel type of proving activity that may have a serious impact on the change in mathematical practices, despite the fact that it is not currently a universally acceptable methodology.