Questions designed to get an overview of a specific subject or body of results or to understand the relations among similar definitions, techniques or concepts appearing in different sub-fields of mathematics. While such questions by their very nature sometimes cannot be made very narrow and ...

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12
votes
6answers
809 views

Proof by `universal receiver'

Anyone following the news knows about the major breakthoughs that have taken place recently in $3$-manifold topology. These have come via a route whose big-picture I find to be conceptually ...
13
votes
0answers
611 views

What is the appropriate setting for Cauchy's Integral Formula?

For a $C^1$ function $f:U\to\mathbb{C}$, where $D\subset U\subseteq \mathbb{C}$ with piecewise $C^1$ boundary $\partial D$, we have the following generalized Cauchy integral formula: $$ f(\zeta) = ...
9
votes
0answers
913 views

Status of the Leopoldt conjecture ? [closed]

In 2009 Mihailescu published a proof of the famous Leopoldt conjecture on the arxiv. Later on, in 2011, he published a 'lightweight' version that proves the conjecture for CM fields. Also compare ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Elevator pitch for the Virtual Fibering Theorem

There has been a great deal of excitement among topologists about the proof of the Virtual Haken Theorem, and in fact of the Virtual Fibering Theorem (for closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds, but I'm ...
7
votes
2answers
784 views

Explaining Mukai-Fourier transforms physically

A core concept in mathematics, engineering, and physics is the Fourier Transform (FT) and its many variants (Generalized Fourier Series, Green's Function, Pontryagin duality). The basic algorithm is ...
25
votes
1answer
808 views

Coefficients of Weil Cohomology Theories

A Weil Cohomology theory is a functor from the category of smooth projective varieties (over some fixed field $k$) to graded $K$-algebras (for some fixed field $K$) satisfying various axioms. For ...
16
votes
3answers
795 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
736 views

Which mathematical questions are objectively true or false? [closed]

Which parts of mathematics are objectively true or false like finite arithmetic and which are only true, false or undecidable relative to a particular axiom system such as Euclidean geometry? ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Duality of eta product identities: a new idea?

Looking at the collection of Eta Function Product Identities by Michael Somos, it seems like generally those identities come in pairs: let's call two eta product identities $\sum\limits_{i=1}^r ...
3
votes
0answers
195 views

Finite subgroups of the unimodular group

This is related to this MO question (and others as well). Hoping that this will not turn out to be too broad, I would like to know about the 'state of the art' of: 1) The problem of classifying ...
2
votes
1answer
411 views

Is there a well defined subset of the integers that cannot be defined as a property of a recursive process or Turing Machine?

Is there a well defined subset of the integers that cannot be defined as a property of a recursive process or Turing Machine? I have long been intrigued by the observation that much of mathematics ...
11
votes
2answers
438 views

Why are some q-analogues more canonical than others?

It is striking that some q-analogs of functions, operators, identities and especially whole theorems seem quite "canonical", e.g. the factorial and the q-Gamma function the basic hypergeometric ...
42
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the significance of non-commutative geometry in mathematics?

This is a question that has been winding around my head for a long time and I have not found a convincing answer. The title says everything, but I am going to enrich my question by little more ...
1
vote
2answers
751 views

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic [closed]

Undoubtedly, these terms play essential roles in (pure) mathematics. My problem is that I have feelings what they mean in different fields, such as, differential geometry (abstract manifolds vs. ...
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 ...
0
votes
4answers
714 views

What are other applications of difference equations in other branches of mathematics ?

What are some of interesting results that arise from using difference equations in number theory , Combinatorics or any other field ?
21
votes
11answers
1k views

Characterizing specific “concrete” mathematical objects by abstract general properties

In this note by Tom Leinster the Banach space $\mathrm{L}^1[0,1]$ is recovered by "abstract nonsense" as the initial object of a certain category of (decorated) Banach spaces. So a function space, ...
29
votes
0answers
3k views

Grothendieck's manuscript on topology

Edit: Just in case anyone still thinks that Grothendieck's unpublished manuscripts are (by his letter) entirely out of sight: Declared as "national treasure", they seem to be in principle accessible ...
3
votes
0answers
205 views

ubiquitous modulicity?

On the one hand, as mentioned here, basically "everything" in algebraic geometry could be seen in the context of "moduli problems" - on the other hand, Grothendieck's few remarks on a possible "tame ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

When are technical assumptions critical? [closed]

Apart from their technical statement and proof, a usual presentation of theorems is by leading up to them with a definite motivation or intuition, for example putting the results in the wider context ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

What information is contained in the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials?

The Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials contain all kinds of representation theoretic (and other kinds of) informations. For example the character of a simple module over a Lie algebra with Weyl group $W$ ...
2
votes
1answer
409 views

Hilbert's 3rd problem,number theory, motives, cyclic homology,…

This talk by Jinhyun Park connects a lot of interesting themes, making me curious to read more about that. Do you know where?
19
votes
0answers
1k views

more on “Transalgebraic Theories” (a 19th century yoga)?

Among the talks at occasion of the Galois Bicentennial, one is about "Transalgebraic Theories". Unfortunately I found only this article describing that fascinating idea as " an extremely powerful ...
3
votes
3answers
431 views

Usefulness of symbolic devices

Each mathematician knows that good notation or symbolism – which seems to be irrelevant from a purely logical point of view – makes theorems more plausible and motivates results which would ...
15
votes
3answers
766 views

Thom's Principle: rich structures are more numerous in low dimension

Marcel Berger states Thom's Principle as: "rich structures are more numerous in low dimension, and poor structures are more numerous in high dimension." This is in Geometry II ...
23
votes
14answers
2k 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 ...
38
votes
24answers
6k views

The concept of Duality

I have been thinking for sometime about asking this question, but because I did not want to have two "big-list" questions open at the same time, I did not ask this one. Now its time has come. ...
6
votes
1answer
862 views

How are mathematical objects defined from an ultrafinitist perspective?

I remember attending a lecture given by an ultrafinitist who denied that curves are a set of points, he would only say that any particular point may or not be on the curve. Similarly for algebraic or ...
12
votes
0answers
194 views

Is there a common framework for Tannaka and Gabriel-Ulmer reconstruction theorems?

Gabriel-Ulmer duality is a biequivalence between the 2-category of finite limit categories and the 2-category of locally finitely presentable categories. It allows for the reconstruction of a theory ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Did Joseph Doob prove that random sequences don't exist?

In the book "The Mathematical Experience" it says: "An infinite [binary] sequence $x_1, x_2, \ldots$ is called random in the sense of von Mises if every infinite sequence $x_{n_1}, x_{n_2}, ...
4
votes
2answers
517 views

What is the relation of the Kuznetsov-Bruggeman trace formula and the Selberg trace formula?

I have read that there is an elementary way to show that the above mentioned trace fromulas are equivalent in the sense, that each of them can be derived directly from the other. There should exist a ...
28
votes
3answers
2k views

On what kind of objects do the Galois groups act?

I am neither number theorist nor algebraic geometer. I am wondering whether Galois groups of number fields (say the absolute Galois group $Gal(\overline{\mathbb{Q}}/\mathbb{Q})$) act on objects which ...
31
votes
1answer
1k views

Various flavours of infinitesimals

I'm not sure if this is a soft question, and whether it may be too broad or, on the contrary, too localized. Well, in Mathematics the concept of "infinitesimal" has been of extreme importance for ...
1
vote
0answers
451 views

What is an algebraic object? [closed]

The question is in the title. In order to give a bit more backround about the question, one knows that their are several different notions of an algebraic object. One approach is that of Lavere and ...
7
votes
1answer
710 views

What makes a theorem 'good'? [closed]

I have been pondering the issue of what makes a theorem noteworthy. There are many famous examples of 'outstanding' theorems, such as Roth's theorem in Diophantine approximation, Szemeredi's Theorem, ...
17
votes
6answers
3k views

Why the triangle inequality?

[Maybe this is asking to be closed; but I thought I'd risk it.] A metric satisfies the axioms: $d(x,y)=0$ if and only if $x=y$. $d(x,y) = d(y,x)$. $d(x,y) \leq d(x,z) + d(z,y)$. Similarly (and ...
7
votes
1answer
414 views

Categorical Invariants

I apologize in advance if this question seems too vague. In many topology courses, concepts like the fundamental group and homology groups are introduced as a means of distinguishing ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Why are finiteness conditions important (and how to recognize them)?

I think everybody here has met lots of finiteness conditions, like those requiring a vector space to be finite dimensional, an abelian group to be finitely generated, a ring to be Noetherian, a ...
15
votes
8answers
4k views

The first eigenvalue of a graph - what does it reflect?

A big-picture question: what "physical properties" of a graph, and in particular of a bipartite graph, are encoded by its largest eigenvalue? If $U$ and $V$ are the partite sets of the graph, with the ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is the Arthur trace formula so powerful?

Considering the Arthur trace formula, why are the sort of convolution operators, whose "normalized traces" are given in geometric terms and spectral terms, actually able to distinguish all automorphic ...
6
votes
0answers
374 views

Does mathematical fecundity ever deviate from its applicability?

We are all familiar with Wigner's "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" thesis (1), and of Hardy's opinion that "the great bulk of higher mathematics is useless" (2). I am wondering if there are ...
48
votes
12answers
9k views

Logic in mathematics and philosophy

What are the relations between logic as an area of (modern) philosophy and mathematical logic. The world "modern" refers to 20th century and later, and I am curious mainly about the second half of ...
40
votes
14answers
4k views

What is the high-concept explanation on why real numbers are useful in number theory?

The utopian situation in mathematics would be that the statement and the proof of every result would live "in the same world", at the same level of mathematical complexity (in a broad sense), unless ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Using higher-order Bring radicals to solve arbitrary polynomials

It is well known that there is no general formula for the solution of the quintic. Of course, what this really means is that there is no general formula that only involves addition, subtraction, ...
28
votes
13answers
3k views

Surprising and Useful Physical Intuition for Mathematical Objects

I believe I.M. Gelfand said that when beginning to learn a new subject, one should learn it like a physicist. In this spirit, what are some helpful and surprising physical intuitions accompanying ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What do whitehead towers have to do with physics?

First let me say something that I don't completely understand, since I do not know enough physics. If I say anything wrong, someone please tell me: For the spinning particle, there is a sigma-model, ...
9
votes
6answers
879 views

(Non?)-linearity of the consistency strength ordering in ZF

Much of the research taking place in set theory, is related to the classification of sentences according to their consistency strength relative to ZF. In order to be more specific, we say that for all ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Why chain homotopy when there is no topology in the background?

Given two morphisms between chain complexes $f_\bullet,g_\bullet\colon\,C_\bullet\longrightarrow D_\bullet$, a chain homotopy between them is a sequence of maps $\psi_n\colon\,C_n\longrightarrow ...
2
votes
1answer
535 views

Knowledge base about topology [closed]

We are studying topology. There are a lot of definitions and theorems. I wonder if there somewhere knowledge base about topology and reasoning system exists. So I expect some tool that systematizes ...
7
votes
0answers
273 views

Canonical Time Evolution for Type $II_{1}$-Factors?

This question was spurred by the answer of Steve Huntsman to the MO question here. The Tomita-Takesaki modular automorphism group gives rise to a canonical time evolution on a type $III$ factor ...