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Proofs and Refutations

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Proofs and Refutations: The Logic of Mathematical Discovery is a 1976 book by philosopher Imre Lakatos expounding his view of the progress of mathematics. The book is written as a series of Socratic dialogues involving a group of students who debate the proof of the Euler characteristic defined for the polyhedron. A central theme is that definitions are not carved in stone, but often have to be patched up in the light of later insights, in particular failed proofs. This gives mathematics a somewhat experimental flavour. At the end of the Introduction, Lakatos explains that his purpose is to challenge formalism in mathematics, and to show that informal mathematics grows by a logic of "proofs and refutations".
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original title: Proofs and Refutations
subtitle: The Logic of Mathematical Discovery
date of publication: 1976

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