Questions designed to generate a "big list" of certain results, examples, conjectures, etc. via many individual answers, each contributing one or a few instances. Such a question should typically be in Community Wiki mode (CW); after asking, please, flag for moderators attention requesting the ...

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4
votes
3answers
576 views

Quotations about the power of simple ideas [closed]

I'm looking for quotations about how very simple mathematical ideas can be very powerful. I know of a few, but they're not quite what I'm looking for insofar as they contain criticism of other ...
4
votes
0answers
190 views

Quotations about the class number formula, etc.

I'm looking for interesting and/or expressive quotations from mathematicians about the class number formula. I'm interested both in quotations from historical mathematicians and from modern ...
37
votes
11answers
2k views

Important open problems that have already been reduced to a finite but infeasible amount of computation

Most open problems, when formalized, naturally involve quantification over infinite sets, thereby obviating the possibility, even in principle, of "just putting it on a computer." Some questions ...
30
votes
10answers
3k views

Believing the Conjectures

In Believing the axioms (I and II), Penelope Maddy proposes five "rules of thumb" that she then uses to justify large cardinal axioms in set theory. These extrinsic rules are modeled after the ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Pathological Examples of Dimension

I am trying to wrap my head around all the different notions of dimension (and their equivalences). To get a sense of this, it would be nice to know the subtle difficulties that arise. I thus think it ...
10
votes
3answers
424 views

Applications of idempotent ultrafilters

Recently Justin Moore has posted a solution to the amenability of Thompson's group F. A key(?) step exploits the existence of idempotent ultrafilters on $\mathbb N$ to construct an idempotent measure ...
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 ...
9
votes
12answers
956 views

Continuous notions with compelling discrete analogues

Following up on the previous MO question "Are there any important mathematical concepts without discrete analogue?", I'd like to ask the opposite: what are examples of notions in math that were not ...
15
votes
12answers
1k views

Instances where an existence result precedes the constructive version

The basic motivation here is to encourage and inspire - via examples - the pursuit of alternate proofs of existing results that might be more accessible and intuitive by cataloging success stories. ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Discrete Mathematics textbooks for undergraduates

For the first time, I will be teaching a course on Discrete Mathematics for electrical and computer undergraduates students. I intend to focus on practical applications. I would be grateful if ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Battle of the brains; cultural mathematics

Firstly, I apologize if my question is long. Three years ago, I watched a video with the name Battle of the Brains. It was a wonderful video about challenging some famous peoples to solve some ...
18
votes
19answers
3k views

History Question: AUTObiography of Mathematicians

According to Wikipedia, an autobiography is an account of the life of a person, written by that person sometimes with a collaborator. An autobiography offers the author the ability to recreate ...
29
votes
11answers
5k views

“Must read” papers in numerical analysis

In 1993, Prof. L.N. Trefethen published a NA-net posting with a list of thirteen paper he used for teaching the seminar Classic Papers in Numerical Analysis. In Trefethen's words, ... this course ...
25
votes
65answers
7k views

Fiction books about mathematicians? [closed]

What are some fiction books about mathematicians? It seems to me rather difficult for writers to create good books on this subject. Some years ago I thought there were no such books at all. There ...
10
votes
10answers
975 views

Properties of natural numbers such that there is a “very large largest” number with that property

I'm looking for properties (P) such that you would assume that there are infinitely many natural numbers with property (P) (for example because there are very large numbers with that property) but ...
8
votes
10answers
3k views

Music: mathematical point of view (revised) [closed]

Mathematical analysis of music started when Pythagoras made his observations about consonant intervals and ratios of string lengths. ADDED: In the paper Mathematical Music Theory -- Status Quo 2000, ...
3
votes
11answers
546 views

A list of symmetric statistics

I would like to have a list of pairs (or tuples) of combinatorial statistics that are (known or conjectured) to have symmetric distribution. Ideally, something like this has already been compiled, ...
10
votes
1answer
365 views

List of Whitehead-like Problems

Whitehead problem is a rather well known problem: Suppose that $G$ is an abelian group and $\mathrm{Ext}^1(G,\Bbb Z)=0$, is $G$ free? It wasn't long before it was proved that if $G$ is ...
7
votes
9answers
2k views

Not especially famous, long-open problems which higher mathematics beginners can understand

This is a pair to Not especially famous, long-open problems which anyone can understand So this time I'm asking for open questions so easy to state for students of subjects such as undergraduate ...
37
votes
30answers
4k views

Fundamental problems whose solution seems completely out of reach [closed]

In many areas of mathematics there are fundamental problems that are embarrasingly natural or simple to state, but whose solution seem so out of reach that they are barely mentioned in the literature ...
22
votes
2answers
765 views

Properties of functors and their adjoints

I am interested in collecting in this question a list of properties a functor $F$ may have and what those properties imply for left and right adjoints, $F^L$ and $F^R$, assuming they exist. There are ...
143
votes
79answers
24k views

Not especially famous, long-open problems which anyone can understand

Question: I'm asking for a big list of not especially famous, long open problems that anyone can understand. Community wiki, so one problem per answer, please. Motivation: I plan to use this list ...
67
votes
60answers
7k views

Blackbox Theorems [closed]

By a blackbox theorem I mean a theorem that is often applied but whose proof is understood in detail by relatively few of those who use it. A prototypical example is the Classification of Finite ...
2
votes
2answers
418 views

Resources for special functions, integral identities

In the past weeks, I have struggled with finding suitable tables for integral indentities for Beta functions, Chebyshev polynomials and their like. I would like to ask for online/offline resources ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Papers whose title defines a new terminology [duplicate]

To explain a new signal processing technique based on Fourier Transform, Bogert et al went on to define a new vocabulary. The new terminology was published in a paper with the title: The Quefrency ...
6
votes
1answer
649 views

On the concept of point in category theory

In principle, many different abstractions of the set-theoretic notion of point / element are available in the framework of categories, but they are not equally effective and, what is more interesting ...
12
votes
11answers
2k views

Approachable French Masters

It has been my general desire for a few years to acquire the basics in other European languages for the purpose of reading some of the classics in their original language, in a similar vein to this ...
3
votes
2answers
529 views

Neat results from algebraic graph theory

Studying algebraic graph theory, I've stumbled across a wide range of results that I found pretty stunning and also useful. I'd like to share them here and ask for your favorite result from this area? ...
43
votes
9answers
5k views

Have we ever lost any mathematics?

The history of mathematics over the last 200 years has many occasions when the fundamental assumptions of an area have been shown to be flawed, or even wrong. Yet I cannot think of any examples where, ...
39
votes
35answers
6k views

Examples of theorems with proofs that have dramatically improved over time

I am looking for examples of theorems that may have originally had a clunky, or rather technical, or in some way non-illuminating proof, but that eventually came to have a proof that people consider ...
6
votes
1answer
308 views

Polygons that are hard to guard

Given an $n$-vertex polygonal 'art gallery' $P$ in the plane, it is possible to cover the interior of $P$ by placing 'guards' at (at worst) $\lfloor n/3\rfloor$ of the vertices of $P$. That this is ...
16
votes
3answers
811 views

Proofs that inspire and teach

I was just listening to the show "A Splendid Table" (which I'd recommend, if you're interested in food) in which they were discussing how to spot a good recipe: one which you can follow successfully ...
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
2answers
316 views

Do (Banach) ultrapowers carry some sort of 'elementary equivalence'?

The (model-theoretic) ultrapowers had been used for studying elementary equivalnce of first-order structures. Then, they have been adapted to Banach spaces, which are, let me say, second-order ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Math blog directory [closed]

Does anyone have a list of high quality mathematics (or related) blogs. I am of course aware of Terry Tao's most excellent blog, and also of ldtopology.wordpress.com, but I am sure the complete list ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

Excellent uses of induction and recursion

Can you make an example of a great proof by induction or construction by recursion? Given that you already have your own idea of what "great" means, here it can also be taken to mean that the chosen ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Application of polynomials with non-negative coefficients

Question 1: Are there any deeper applications (in any field of mathematics) of polynomials (with possibly more than one variable) over the real numbers whose coefficients are non-negative? So far I ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Arithmetic geometry examples

(This is inspired by Algebraic geometry examples.) I want to collect here (counter)examples in arithmetic geometry. Curves violating the Hasse principle: The Selmer curve $3X^3 + 4Y^3 + 5Z^3 = 0$. ...
42
votes
28answers
5k views

What are some examples of ingenious, unexpected constructions?

Many famous problems in mathematics can be phrased as the quest for a specific construction. Often such constructions were sought after for centuries or even millennia and later proved impossible by ...
17
votes
3answers
659 views

Sperner Lemma Applications

I was always fascinated with this result. Sperner's lemma is a combinatorial result which can prove some pretty strong facts, as Brouwer fixed point theorem. I know at least another application of ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Easy and Hard problems in Mathematics [closed]

Modified question: I would like to know some examples of problems in Mathematics, for pedagogical purposes, which do not involve difficult techiques to solve the problem but with a change of context ...
5
votes
0answers
530 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 - ...
32
votes
10answers
2k views

papers archives? (especially not indexed by google)

http://www.digizeitschriften.de/index.php?id=239&L=2 has many papers with free access (e.g. Inventiones Mathematicae) but when you search with scholar.google.com it does not index this site! Are ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

An undergraduate's guide to the foundational theorems of logic [closed]

How would you explain one of these theorems in the foundations of mathematics to a fellow colleague outside the field of logic (or rather to an undergraduate mathematics student) handwaving over the ...
28
votes
9answers
4k views

Non-computational software useful to mathematicians

The MathOverflow question Open source mathematical software contains a list of programs that are useful to perform various computational tasks, such as computer algebra systems. However, evaluating ...
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 ...
12
votes
17answers
2k views

Short Course Suggestions For High School Students

I am planning to teach a course for talented high school students at a summer camp and I need suggestions for possible topics. The students usually have different backgrounds but most of them are ...
0
votes
1answer
386 views

Weak algebraic structures

The following question can be thought as a sequel of this one. Here I'm looking for a big list of example of weak algebraic structures: here weak means that the structure (i.e. operations) need not ...
43
votes
7answers
4k views

The main theorems of category theory and their applications

This question first arose as I wrote an answer for the question: Is there a nice application of category theory to functional/complex/harmonic analysis?; it can also be regarded as a (hopefully) more ...
33
votes
15answers
6k views

Is there a nice application of category theory to functional/complex/harmonic analysis?

[Title changed, and wording of question tweaked, by YC, because the original title asked a question which seems different from the one people want to answer.] I've read looked at the examples in ...