Symposium on Mathematical Practice and Cognition

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Symposium on Mathematical Practice and Cognition

Call for papers

The belief that what mathematicians think and do is important to the philosophy of mathematics is a relatively recent position, held by, for example, Lakatos (1976, 1978), Davis and Hersh (1980), Kitcher (1983), Tymoczko (1986) and Corfield (2003), and discussed in symposia such as Two Streams in the Philosophy of Mathematics: Rival Conceptions of Mathematical Proof (University of Hertfordshire, 2009). This focus on mathematical practice suggests that research into how mathematical definitions or axioms are motivated, representations changed, problems discovered and explained, analogies formed between different mathematical fields, etc., and how these processes grow out of biologically important competences in dealing effectively with rich and complex environments, is relevant and necessary. This contrasts the traditional focus in philosophy on how mathematics should be done, or the epistemological status of mathematical theorems. The new direction is complemented by recent work in cognitive science on the origin and development of mathematical ideas, for example Lakoff and Núñez (2000). Researchers are now working at all levels to investigate how people, from young babies up to professionals and geniuses are able to perform different mathematical tasks.

With the new approach in the philosophy of mathematics, and developments in cognitive science of mathematics and embodied cognition, we feel that the time is ripe for interaction between the fields. We hope to promote a sharing of ideas and enable an atmosphere in which new connections and collaborations are forged.

We aim to bring together researchers in different fields, to promote discussion between, for example, people working on the neurological level and those building models of mathematical theory formation, people thinking about aesthetics in mathematics and those focused on visual and diagrammatic reasoning, psychologists of mathematics education, sociologists of mathematics and researchers in embodied cognition, or studying relevant aspects of animal cognition, and biological evolution.

We welcome submissions from anyone interested in themes such as those below, and especially encourage interdisciplinary submissions which link previously unassociated fields.

- embodied cognition and mathematics
- computational models of axiom, entity, counterexample, concept, conjecture, and proof generation and evaluation in mathematics
- visual and diagrammatic reasoning
- analogies and metaphors in mathematics
- mathematics on the neurological level
- philosophy of mathematics/informal mathematics
- sociology of mathematics
- anthropology of mathematics
- mathematics and language
- cognitive science of mathematics
- psychology of mathematics
- psychology of mathematics education
- a mathematician's perspective
- difficulties in the mathematical brain - studies of dyscalculia, acalculia etc.
- how mathematical competences relate to abilities to deal creatively with complex spatial environments
- implications for developmental robotics
- implications for biological studies of epigenesis
- why (and how) did biological evolution produce mathematicians?
- if humans require mathematics teachers to help them become mathematicians, where did the first teachers come from?

Note that there will be a symposium on AI-Inspired Biology (not Biologically Inspired AI) at the same venue directly after this one: 31st March - 1st April. This will focus on past, ongoing and especially future influences from AI/robotics to the study of natural cognition.