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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103
votes
18answers
10k views

How does one justify funding for mathematics research?

G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology provides an answer as to why one would do mathematics, but I'm unable to find an answer as to why mathematics deserves public funding. Mathematics can be ...
42
votes
19answers
38k views

Linear Algebra Texts?

Can anyone suggest a relatively gentle linear algebra text that integrates vector spaces and matrix algebra right from the start? I've found in the past that students react in very negative ways to ...
110
votes
45answers
20k views

Examples of eventual counterexamples

Define an "eventual counterexample" to be $P(a) = T $ for $a < n$ $P(n) = F$ $n$ is sufficiently large for $P(n) = T\ \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$ to be a 'reasonable' conjecture to make. where '...
75
votes
51answers
12k views

Important formulas in Combinatorics

Motivation: The poster for the conference celebrating Noga Alon's 60th birthday, fifteen formulas describing some of Alon's work are presented. (See this post, for the poster, and cash prizes offered ...
180
votes
30answers
19k views

Which journals publish expository work?

I wonder if anyone else has noticed that the market for expository papers in mathematics is very narrow (more so than it used to be, perhaps). Are there any journals which publish expository work, ...
19
votes
18answers
8k views

What are some applications of other fields to mathematics?

It is commonplace to consider applications of mathematics to other fields, especially the exact sciences. But what I would like to know about is the converse topic, namely: What are some ...
59
votes
22answers
9k views

Examples of major theorems with very hard proofs that have NOT dramatically improved over time

This question complement a previous MO question: Examples of theorems with proofs that have dramatically improved over time. I am looking for a list of Major theorems in mathematics whose proofs ...
121
votes
81answers
96k views

Do good math jokes exist? [closed]

Have a good joke? Share. I know this is subjective, but the principle "should be of interest to mathematicians" trumps. (I hope.)
4
votes
2answers
244 views

Critical points in $ZF$ without Choice

Recall the definition of critical point for set theory: A critical point of an elementary embedding of one transitive class into another transitive class is the smallest ordinal not mapped to ...
15
votes
12answers
5k views

The best text to study both incompleteness theorems

Hi! What text on both incompleteness theorems you would recommend for beginner? Specifically, I'm looking for the text with the following properties: 1) The proofs should be finitistic, in Godel's ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

Where on the internet I can find database of graphs?

I am studying graph algorithms. I need database of graphs on which I can test my algorithms. Where can I find reliable database of graphs of all kinds? Thanks!
79
votes
23answers
13k views

Has philosophy ever clarified mathematics?

I've recently been reading some standard textbooks on the philosophy of mathematics, and I've become quite frustrated that (surely due to my own limitations) I don't seem to be gleaning any ...
45
votes
14answers
7k views

What are some of the big open problems in 3-manifold theory?

From what I understand, the geometrization theorem and its proof helped to settle a lot of outstanding questions about the geometry and topology of 3-manifolds, but there still seems to be quite a lot ...
5
votes
5answers
552 views

Important results with one or more than one proof [closed]

Can you give examples of deep, important results that have only one known proof, and not just because the first proof is fairly recent, or because not many people really cared to think about it? How ...
132
votes
44answers
77k views

Magic trick based on deep mathematics

I am interested in magic tricks whose explanation requires deep mathematics. The trick should be one that would actually appeal to a layman. An example is the following: the magician asks Alice to ...
141
votes
29answers
33k views

Examples of unexpected mathematical images

I try to generate a lot of examples in my research to get a better feel for what I am doing. Sometimes, I generate a plot, or a figure, that really surprises me, and makes my research take an ...
144
votes
136answers
31k views

Fundamental Examples

It is not unusual that a single example or a very few shape an entire mathematical discipline. Can you give examples for such examples? (One example, or few, per post, please) I'd love to learn about ...
51
votes
47answers
18k views

An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...
106
votes
72answers
16k views

Most helpful math resources on the web

What are really helpful math resources out there on the web? Please don't only post a link but a short description of what it does and why it is helpful. Please only one resource per answer and let ...
82
votes
8answers
9k views

Mistakes in mathematics, false illusions about conjectures

Since long time ago I have been thinking in two problems that I have not been able to solve. It seems that one of them was recently solved. I have been thinking a lot about the motivation and its ...
24
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
232
votes
68answers
109k views

Proofs without words

Can you give examples of proofs without words? In particular, can you give examples of proofs without words for non-trivial results? (One could ask if this is of interest to mathematicians, and I ...
35
votes
15answers
3k views

Free open-access peer-reviewed math journal

Is there any free (as in free beer, i.e., no publication fees or other fees whatsoever), open-access (free and open access to everyone) and peer-reviewed mathematics journal? I am interested in a ...
134
votes
28answers
57k views

Intuitive crutches for higher dimensional thinking

I once heard a joke (not a great one I'll admit...) about higher dimensional thinking that went as follows- An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are discussing how to visualise four ...
12
votes
15answers
8k views

undergraduate logic textbook

I am going to teach the standard undergraduate Logic course for math and engineering majors. What are good (bad) text-books and why. I have not taught that course for a while and wonder if there are ...
23
votes
1answer
761 views

Big list - Equivalent descriptions of Hodge conjecture?

I would like to know equivalent descriptions of the Hodge conjecture (with references). Dan Freed's Version: Consider a topological cycle (boundary less chains that are free to deform) on a ...
62
votes
15answers
7k views

Mathematical research published in the form of poems

The article Friedrich Wille: Galerkins Lösungsnäherungen bei monotonen Abbildungen, Math. Z. 127 (1972), no. 1, 10-16 is written in the form of a lengthy poem, in a style similar to that of the ...
64
votes
59answers
15k views

Pseudonyms of famous mathematicians

Many mathematicians know that Lewis Carroll was quite a good mathematician, who wrote about logic (paradoxes) and determinants. He found an expansion formula, which bears his real name (Charles ...
61
votes
39answers
12k views

nontrivial theorems with trivial proofs

A while back I saw posted on someone's office door a statement attributed to some famous person, saying that it is an instance of the callousness of youth to think that a theorem is trivial because ...
171
votes
22answers
25k views

Geometric Interpretation of Trace

This afternoon I was speaking with some graduate students in the department and we came to the following quandry; Is there a geometric interpretation of the trace of a matrix? This question ...
9
votes
2answers
639 views

Undecidable puzzles

There are plenty of popular NP-hard puzzles, for example, generalized Sudoku ($n^2 \times n^2$-board), Flow (I cannot give a source for this), Minesweeper, etc. Recently, I read a bit about aperiodic ...
48
votes
16answers
7k views

Collection of equivalent forms of Riemann Hypothesis

This forum brings together a broad enough base of mathematicians to collect a "big list" of equivalent forms of the Riemann Hypothesis...just for fun. Also, perhaps, this collection could include ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What are examples of theorems which were once “valid”, then became “invalid” as standard definitions shifted?

That is, results established by correct proofs within some framework, yet the manner in which their author or the general mathematical community at the time would describe these results would, in ...
12
votes
5answers
513 views

Applications of space filling curves

I am seeking articles where a space filling curve has been used as a theoretical application, such as in the study of general orthogonal polynomials.
154
votes
67answers
53k views

Awfully sophisticated proof for simple facts [closed]

It is sometimes the case that one can produce proofs of simple facts that are of disproportionate sophistication which, however, do not involve any circularity. For example, (I think) I gave an ...
34
votes
14answers
3k views

Where have you used computer programming in your career as an (applied/pure) mathematician?

For background: I'm working on a book to help mathematicians learn how to program. However, I need to see some examples from people in the field that have done different kinds of things than I have. ...
27
votes
16answers
4k views

Interesting mathematical topics arising from Biology

I've heard that there's a relatively new field of science called Mathematical Biology. It will certainly apply well known and less known mathematical techniques to the understanding of some ...
21
votes
13answers
2k views

Are there any good nonconstructive “existential metatheorems”?

Are there any good examples of theorems in reasonably expressive theories (like Peano arithmetic) for which it is substantially easier to prove (in a metatheory) that a proof exists than it is ...
568
votes
217answers
144k views

Examples of common false beliefs in mathematics

The first thing to say is that this is not the same as the question about interesting mathematical mistakes. I am interested about the type of false beliefs that many intelligent people have while ...
42
votes
15answers
6k views

Abstract Thought vs Calculation

Jeremy Avigad and Erich Reck in their remarkable historical paper "Clarifying the nature of the infinite: the development of metamathematics and proof theory" claim that one of the factors of becoming ...
62
votes
25answers
5k views

What could be some potentially useful mathematical databases?

This is a soft question but it's not meant as a big-list question. I have recently been asked whether I want to provide feedback at the pre-beta stage on a forthcoming website that will provide a ...
19
votes
12answers
3k views

Classic applications of Baire category theorem

I've seen Baire category theorem used to prove existence of objects with certain properties. But it seems there is another class of interesting applications of Baire category theorem that I have yet ...
154
votes
11answers
46k views

Have any long-suspected irrational numbers turned out to be rational?

The history of proving numbers irrational is full of interesting stories, from the ancient proofs for $\sqrt{2}$, to Lambert's irrationality proof for $\pi$, to Roger Apéry's surprise demonstration ...
49
votes
9answers
6k views

When have we lost a body of mathematics because errors were found?

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, ...
60
votes
27answers
8k views

Sexy vacuity …

I included this footnote in a paper in which I mentioned that the number of partitions of the empty set is 1 (every member of any partition is a non-empty set, and of course every member of the empty ...
85
votes
19answers
9k views

Occurrences of (co)homology in other disciplines and/or nature

I am curious if the setup for (co)homology theory appears outside the realm of pure mathematics. The idea of a family of groups linked by a series of arrows such that the composition of consecutive ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

A list of machineries for computing cohomology

This is not a question, but I just hope to hear more from everyone here on it. A list of ready-to-use machineries to compute the de Rham / Cech cohomology of a manifold / variety. As far as I know, I ...
42
votes
15answers
6k views

Shortest/Most elegant proof for $L(1,\chi)\neq 0$

Let $\chi$ be a Dirichlet character and $L(1,\chi)$ the associated L-function evaluated at $s=1$. What would be the 'shortest' proof of the non-vanishing of $L(1,\chi)$? Background: The non-vanishing ...
119
votes
46answers
40k views

Ways to prove the fundamental theorem of algebra

This seems to be a favorite question everywhere, including Princeton quals. How many ways are there? Please give a new way in each answer, and if possible give reference. I start by giving two: ...
28
votes
15answers
2k views

Objects which can't be defined without making choices but which end up independent of the choice

It happens a lot of times that when one defines a new object (ring, module, space, group, algebra, morphism, whatever) out of given data one first chooses some additional structure. And sometimes (...