33
votes
33answers
4k views

Structures that turn out to exhibit a symmetry even though their definition doesn't

Sometimes (often?) a structure depending on several parameters turns out to be symmetric w.r.t. interchanging two of the parameters, even though the definition gives a priori no clue of that symmetry. ...
18
votes
5answers
629 views

Online high quality colloquium talks

In my department we're thinking about showing online lectures one day per week at lunch, as sort of a virtual colloquium appropriate to mathematics undergraduates as well as faculty. To start with ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Famous vacuously true statements

I am interested to know other examples vacuously true statements that are non-trivial. My starting example is Turan's result in regards to the Riemann hypothesis, which states Suppose that for each ...
37
votes
19answers
5k views

Are there proofs that you feel you did not “understand” for a long time?

Perhaps the "proofs" of ABC conjecture or newly released weak version of twin prime conjecture or alike readily come to your mind. These are not the proofs I am looking for. Indeed my question was ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

List of Charlatans in Mathematics [closed]

Recently, while looking for articles and documents to learn about the Riemann Hyopthesis, I came across a strange funny document of a chinese "mathematician" called Jiang Chun-Xuang who claimed to ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

On similar concepts in mathematics whose similarity is a non-trivial fact.

Recently, while undertaking a study of commutative algebra, I learned three concepts: (i) a local ring, (ii) a regular local ring and (iii) a regular ring. At the end, I found myself asking this ...
6
votes
8answers
2k views

Beautiful theorems with short proof [closed]

I like to ask for beautiful mathematical theorems with short proof. A proof is short in my sense if it is at most one page assuming basic notations and very basic results a second year student will ...
11
votes
9answers
1k views

math circles video lectures for school children?

Hello, I am from India. I find the mathoverflow amazing. I have a question: Are there any good quality video lectures on school math topics? There are a lot of high quality lectures available on ...
5
votes
0answers
526 views

Open problems with practical outcome in a visible future ? [closed]

I believe that any non-trivial idea will sooner or later find application in real life. However "sooner" is better than "later":) If we look at famous open problems - e.g. Millennium Prize problems - ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

Unexpected applications of the fact that nth degree polynomials are determined by n+1 points

I had a funny idea for proving an identity in Euclidean geometry. While it didn't end up being a very nice proof strategy in my case, I would still like to collect nice examples of where the proof ...
6
votes
10answers
824 views

Examples of “Unusual” Classifications

When one says "classification" in math, usually one of a handful of examples springs to mind: -Classification of Finite Simple Groups with 18 infinite families and 26 sporadic examples (assuming one ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

Unpopular “elementary” theorems/identities to impress an audience of mathematicians. [closed]

This question grew out of my recent job interview. Since the interviewers were math professors, I had a hard time searching for interesting elementary theorems in case I got asked for one. I thought ...
78
votes
90answers
10k views

What would you want to see at the Museum of Mathematics?

EDIT (30 Nov 2012): MoMath is opening in a couple of weeks, so this seems like it might be a good time for any last-minute additions to this question before I vote to close my own question as "no ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Technical trends quietly aimed at big open problems? [closed]

When I was an undergraduate 35 years ago, I made the mistake of asking some of my mathematics professors what well-known open problems they liked to think about. I got the message that this was ...
12
votes
17answers
2k views

Individual mathematical objects whose study amounts to a (sub)discipline? [closed]

Certain mathematical objects have a theory so rich that their study alone arguably constitutes a distinct (sub)discipline. My own list would begin with 1) the absolute Galois group of the rationals; ...
46
votes
6answers
6k views

Still Difficult After All These Years

I think we all secretly hope that in the long run mathematics becomes easier, in that with advances of perspective, today's difficult results will seem easier to future mathematicians. If I were ...
50
votes
26answers
4k views

Proof synopsis collection

I hate to keep going with the big lists, but the question about one-sentence summaries of topics/areas spurred this question...and I just can't help myself! Definition (Fraleigh): A proof synopsis ...
113
votes
36answers
20k views

Demonstrating that rigour is important

Any pure mathematician will from time to time discuss, or think about, the question of why we care about proofs, or to put the question in a more precise form, why we seem to be so much happier with ...