Mathematical Arguments and Distributed Knowledge

  • Patrick Allo
  • Jean Paul Van Bendegem
  • Bart Van Kerkhove
Part of the Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science book series (LEUS, volume 30)


Because the conclusion of a correct proof follows by necessity from its premises, and is thus independent of the mathematician’s beliefs about that conclusion, understanding how different pieces of mathematical knowledge can be distributed within a larger community is rarely considered an issue in the epistemology of mathematical proofs. In the present chapter, we set out to question the received view expressed by the previous sentence. To that end, we study a prime example of collaborative mathematics, namely the Polymath Project, and propose a simple formal model based on epistemic logics to bring out some of the core features of this case-study.


Collaborative mathematics Epistemic logic Group knowledge Interactive epistemology Mathematical practice Polymath. 



The first author is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation–Flanders, which through project G.0431.09 also supported research for this chapter by the third author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Allo
    • 1
  • Jean Paul Van Bendegem
    • 1
  • Bart Van Kerkhove
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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