Elegance
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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Elegance is a synonym for beauty that has come to acquire the additional connotations of unusual effectiveness and simplicity. It is frequently used as a standard of tastefulness particularly in the areas of visual design, decoration, the sciences, and the esthetics of mathematics. Elegant things exhibit refined grace and dignified propriety.
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General concept
Different applications of the term are not fully isomorphic in the sense described by Douglas Hofstadter as follows: “The word ‘isomorphism’ applies when two complex structures can be mapped onto each other, in such a way that to each part of one structure there is a corresponding part in the other structure, where ‘corresponding’ means that the two parts play similar roles in their respective structures.” The lack of such an isomorphism means that various definitions are in some degree mutually inconsistent.
Nonetheless, essential components of the concept include simplicity and consistency of design, focusing on the essential features of an object. In art of any kind one might also require dignified grace, or restrained beauty of style.
Visual stimuli are frequently considered elegant if a small number of colors and stimuli are used, emphasizing the remainder.
In mathematics
The proof of a mathematical theorem exhibits mathematical elegance if it is surprisingly simple yet effective and constructive; similarly, a computer program or algorithm is elegant if it uses a small amount of code to great effect.
In engineering
In engineering, a solution may be considered elegant if it uses a non-obvious method to produce a solution which is highly effective and simple. An elegant solution may solve multiple problems at once, especially problems not thought to be inter-related.
In chemistry
In chemistry, chemists might look for elegance in theory and method, in technique and procedure. For example: elegance might comprise creative parsimony and versatility in the utilization of resources, in the manipulation of materials, and in effectiveness in syntheses and analysis.
In pharmacy
In pharmacy, elegance in formulation is important for quality as well as effectiveness in dosage form design, a major component of pharmaceutics.