‘Deus ex machina and the aesthetics of proof’
Mathematical Intelligencer, 32, no. 3 (September 2010), pp. 7–11.
DOI: 10.1007/s00283-010-9141-z. MR: 2721302. ZBL: 1247.00009.

Abstract

Unexpectedness and inevitability, two of the aesthetic qualities G.H. Hardy identified as being properties of beautiful proofs, together seem paradoxical: how can something be seen as both unexpected and inevitable? This essay argues that the literary concept of deus ex machina can be used to clarify the notion of inevitability in proof and reconcile it with unexpectedness.