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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

31
votes
19answers
6k views

Interesting applications (in pure mathematics) of first-year calculus

What interesting applications are there for theorems or other results studied in first-year calculus courses? A good example for such an application would be using a calculus theorem to prove a ...
178
votes
9answers
13k views

John Nash's Mathematical Legacy

It would seem that John Nash and his wife Alicia died tragically in a car accident on May 23, 2015 (reference). My condolences to his family and friends. Maybe this is an appropriate time to ask a ...
5
votes
1answer
338 views

Repertory of the different sorts of operads

Many different types of operads have emerged in recent years (symmetric, shuffle, cyclic, anticyclic, coloured, etc.). I would like, for any of these, list the following data: Description of the ...
124
votes
36answers
22k 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 ...
52
votes
32answers
10k views

What notions are used but not clearly defined in modern mathematics?

"Everyone knows what a curve is, until he has studied enough mathematics to become confused through the countless number of possible exceptions." Felix Klein What notions are used but not ...
116
votes
64answers
15k views

Suggestions for good notation

I occasionally come across a new piece of notation so good that it makes life easier by giving a better way to look at something. Some examples: Iverson introduced the notation [X] to mean 1 if X is ...
65
votes
17answers
9k views

Are there examples of non-orientable manifolds in nature?

Whilst browsing through Marcel Berger's book "A Panoramic View of Riemannian Geometry" and thinking about the Klein bottle, I came across the sentence: "The unorientable surfaces are never discussed ...
57
votes
5answers
22k views

Consequences of the Riemann hypothesis

I assume a number of results have been proven conditionally on the Riemann hypothesis, of course in number theory and maybe in other fields. What are the most relevant you know? It would also be nice ...
104
votes
33answers
58k views

Best Algebraic Geometry text book? (other than Hartshorne)

I think (almost) everyone agrees that Hartshorne's Algebraic Geometry is still the best. Then what might be the 2nd best? It can be a book, preprint, online lecture note, webpage, etc. One suggestion ...
111
votes
69answers
21k views

Which math paper maximizes the ratio (importance)/(length)?

My vote would be Milnor's 7-page paper "On manifolds homeomorphic to the 7-sphere", in Vol. 64 of Annals of Math. For those who have not read it, he explicitly constructs smooth 7-manifolds which are ...
3
votes
2answers
164 views

Examples of TVS with no non-trivial open convex subsets

I give here the classical example of the space $E = L^p([0,1])$ which has no open convex subsets apart from $\emptyset$ and $E$. Consequently, there is no non-trivial continuous linear form on $E$. ...
60
votes
63answers
9k views

Old books still used

It's a commonplace to state that while other sciences (like biology) may always need the newest books, we mathematicians also use to use older books. While this is a qualitative remark, I would like ...
68
votes
25answers
25k views

What are the most misleading alternate definitions in taught mathematics?

I suppose this question can be interpreted in two ways. It is often the case that two or more equivalent (but not necessarily semantically equivalent) definitions of the same idea/object are used in ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Mathematical research papers in general science journals

I am interested in collecting a list of research papers with a mainly mathematical focus that appeared in high-reputation general science journals without a dedicated mathematics section. This would ...
50
votes
8answers
6k views

Least collaborative mathematician

The recent question about the most prolific collaboration interested me. How about this question in the opposite direction, then: can anyone beat, amongst contemporary mathematicians, the example of ...
46
votes
14answers
3k 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
64 views

Collecting sufficient conditions for Sorli's conjecture on odd perfect numbers

Sorli's conjecture predicts that, for an odd perfect number $N$ given in the Eulerian form $N = {q^k}{n^2}$ (where $q$ is prime with $\gcd(q, n) = 1$ and $q \equiv k \equiv 1 \pmod 4$), the condition ...
65
votes
25answers
7k views

Modern Mathematical Achievements Accessible to Undergraduates

While there is tremendous progress happening in mathematics, most of it is just accessible to specialists. In many cases, the proofs of great results are both long and use difficult techniques. Even ...
192
votes
66answers
95k 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 ...
123
votes
71answers
22k views

Your favorite surprising connections in Mathematics

There are certain things in mathematics that have caused me a pleasant surprise -- when some part of mathematics is brought to bear in a fundamental way on another, where the connection between the ...
129
votes
27answers
16k views

What are some reasonable-sounding statements that are independent of ZFC?

Every now and then, somebody will tell me about a question. When I start thinking about it, they say, "actually, it's undecidable in ZFC." For example, suppose A is an abelian group such that every ...
51
votes
15answers
6k views

Contest problems with connections to deeper mathematics

I already posted this on math.stackexchange, but I'm also posting it here because I think that it might get more and better answers here! Hope this is okay. We all know that problems from, for ...
463
votes
193answers
119k 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 ...
164
votes
109answers
43k views

What are some examples of colorful language in serious mathematics papers? [closed]

The popular MO question "Famous mathematical quotes" has turned up many examples of witty, insightful, and humorous writing by mathematicians. Yet, with a few exceptions such as Weyl's "angel of ...
86
votes
42answers
29k 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: ...
0
votes
1answer
246 views

Physics that needs “new” math [closed]

Just curious: I can't think of a single example that a physicist did not had his mouth open in amazement when he learnt that all (OK, lets say the foundations) the math he needs for his brand-new ...
37
votes
26answers
7k views

Examples of seemingly elementary problems that are hard to solve?

I'm looking for a list of problems such that a) any undergraduate student who took multivariable calculus and linear algebra can understand the statements, (Edit: the definition of understanding here ...
9
votes
6answers
682 views

Open problems in continued fractions theory

I propose to collect here open problems from the theory of continued fractions. Any types of continued fractions are welcome.
30
votes
11answers
6k 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 ...
100
votes
59answers
17k views

Jokes in the sense of Littlewood: examples? [closed]

First, let me make it clear that I do not mean jokes of the "abelian grape" variety. I take my cue from the following passage in A Mathematician's Miscellany by J.E. Littlewood (Methuen 1953, p. 79): ...
87
votes
42answers
16k 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 ...
70
votes
52answers
20k views

Which popular games are the most mathematical?

I consider a game to be mathematical if there is interesting mathematics (to a mathematician) involved in the game's structure, optimal strategies, practical strategies, analysis of the game ...
6
votes
6answers
475 views

Finite-space dynamical systems

This question is quite open-ended, but I will formulate several sub-questions that I'll try to make precise. It is about finite-state dynamical system: start with a finite set $X$, with say $n$ ...
32
votes
21answers
7k views

Nontrivial question about Fibonacci numbers?

I'm looking for a nontrivial, but not super difficult question concerning Fibonacci numbers. It should be at a level suitable for an undergraduate course. Here is a (not so good) example of the sort ...
45
votes
13answers
7k views

How has modern algebraic geometry affected other areas of math?

I have a friend who is very biased against algebraic geometry altogether. He says it's because it's about polynomials and he hates polynomials. I try to tell him about modern algebraic geometry, ...
33
votes
16answers
28k 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 ...
34
votes
22answers
8k views

Open source mathematical software.

I want some recomendation on which software I should install on my computer, an open source program for general abstract mathematical purposes (as opposed to applied mathematics). I would likely use ...
54
votes
18answers
6k views

Proofs of the uncountability of the reals.

Recently, I learnt in my analysis class the proof of the uncountability of the reals via the Nested Interval Theorem. At first, I was excited to see a variant proof (as it did not use the diagonal ...
172
votes
93answers
29k 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 ...
26
votes
7answers
8k views

Collecting proofs that finite multiplicative subgroups of fields are cyclic.

I teach elementary number theory and discrete mathematics to students who come with no abstract algebra. I have found proving the key theorem that finite multiplicative subgroups of fields are cyclic ...
1
vote
6answers
3k views

Proofs by induction [closed]

Background I'm interested in the issue of "explanatory" mathematical proofs and would like to try to find out what intuitions mathematicians have about induction, because there seems to be some ...
48
votes
4answers
2k views

When has the Borel-Cantelli heuristic been wrong?

The Borel-Cantelli lemma is very frequently used to give a heuristic for whether or not certain statements in number theory are true. For example, it gives some evidence that there are finitely many ...
96
votes
27answers
13k views

Extremely messy proofs

Currently in my undergraduate courses I am being taught how to set up various machinery using slick, short proofs and then how to apply that machinery. What I am not being taught, largely, is what ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

Maximality statements that cannot be proved using $\mathsf{ZL}$ [closed]

What are examples for maximality statements that cannot be proved using Zorn's Lemma?
129
votes
132answers
29k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Proofs of the Chevalley-Warning Theorem

A well known proof of the Chevally-Warning Theorem is the one listed on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevalley%E2%80%93Warning_theorem Are there any other proofs of this, or ...
26
votes
14answers
5k views

Open problems in Euclidean geometry?

Which are some (research level) open problems in Euclidean geometry ? (Edit: I ask just out of curiosity, to understand how -and if- nowadays this is not a "dead" field yet) I should clarify a ...
22
votes
17answers
5k views

Applications of finite continued fractions

I know some applications of finite continued fractions. Probably you know more. Can you add anything? (For for Applications of periodic continued fractions I have made a special topic.) 1) (Trivial) ...
62
votes
34answers
5k views

books well-motivated with explicit examples

It is ultimately a matter of personal taste, but I prefer to see a long explicit example, before jumping into the usual definition-theorem path (hopefully I am not the only one here). My problem is ...
35
votes
34answers
10k views

Ingenuity in mathematics

[This is just the kind of vague community-wiki question that I would almost certainly turn my nose up at if it were asked by someone else, so I apologise in advance, but these sorts of questions do ...