71
votes
18answers
6k views

How do you decide whether a question in abstract algebra is worth studying?

Dear MO-community, I am not sure how mature my view on this is and I might say some things that are controversial. I welcome contradicting views. In any case, I find it important to clarify this in my ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Are rings really more fundamental objects than semi-rings?

The discovery (or invention) of negatives, which happened several centuries ago by the Chinese, Indians and Arabs, has of course be of fundamental importance to mathematics. From then on, it seems ...
1
vote
1answer
196 views

How to distinguish property of particular representation from property of algebraic structure?

It is common that You have some interesting object (set, group, algebra or something, whatever) which has certain properties, structure etc. You may try describe it in pure algebraic way. Sometimes ...
11
votes
3answers
901 views

Sign of infinite permutations?

Let $S_\infty$ the group of permutations of $\mathbb{N}$. It can be shown that there is no homomorphism $S_\infty \to \mathbf{Z}/2$ extending the sign on the finite symmetric groups. Is it possible to ...
15
votes
4answers
6k views

Famous exercise from Lang's Algebra

There's a famous story about an exercise from Lang's Algebra that says something along the lines of "pick up a homological algebra book and prove all of the theorems yourself". I cannot find it in ...