I am wondering if there is some analog for literary movements in writing (e.g., romanticism/post-modernism) for mathematics or the sciences as a whole. I would think there would be similarly large tonal/structural shifts from decade to decade in how mathematics is communicated.

I am curious if there are specific examples of these shifts (named or not) and what they entailed.

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    $\begingroup$ There was time when there were no math journals, mathematicians communicated by letters, sent each other anagrams, etc. In the 1800s journals appeared, articles became peer reviewed. This brought rigor or at least demand for rigor. In 1990s arXiv appeared and so people do not need to publish as much as before. This changed the style of math texts again. So there are analogs of literary movements, but not so many. $\endgroup$
    – markvs
    Nov 16 '21 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ See SEP, Mathematical Style. Spengler claimed that Renaissance, Classicism, Baroque and Romanticism were reflected in mathematical writing, Bense presented a more nuanced picture, but both are seen today as far fetched. Hacking and Crombie developed a conception of "cognitive styles" that are more germane to mathematical content. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Nov 16 '21 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ Personal note: Something happened to the character of writing in the stats literature through the 1960s to early 1970s, such that papers became much more opaque for me to follow. I do not know if this relates to the computing revolution (i.e. access to mainframes for previously unfeasible simulations, more complex analytic methods, etc.), or reflects a maturing of the field, or what. Sentence construction in academics was also transformed by the desktop computing revolution, and the ubiquitous availability of the word processor. Citation use likely shifted with the Net since the late 90s. $\endgroup$
    – Alexis
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:50

This is an interesting scholarly book:

Jeremy Gray, Plato's Ghost: The Modernist Transformation of Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2008)

There were profound changes in mathematics between 1880 and 1910. Gray argues that these changes constitute a "modernist" movement, like the modernist movements in art and in music.

  • $\begingroup$ While I believe that math changed, did math writing change? Certainly papers by Rutherford from the 1910's are written differently than a current Physical Review Letter, but really not like the difference between Hemingway and Faulkner. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 16 '21 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ The use of precise theorem statements is fairly recent in English-language math writing. I was just looking at H.J.S. Smith's 1861 paper where the "Smith Normal Form" is introduced and found it impossible to find concise statements of what is being proved at any given point in the paper. Impossible, that is, without carefully reading the text line by line, the way a paper should be read the second or third time through. $\endgroup$ Nov 16 '21 at 16:12

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