**5**

votes

**1**answer

2k 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 ...

**20**

votes

**4**answers

2k 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 $W$ ...

**7**

votes

**2**answers

572 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?

**24**

votes

**1**answer

2k 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

**3**answers

439 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

**3**answers

788 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
...

**27**

votes

**16**answers

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 ...

**45**

votes

**24**answers

8k 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

**1**answer

925 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

**0**answers

231 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

**2**answers

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}, ...

**6**

votes

**2**answers

675 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 ...

**29**

votes

**3**answers

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
...

**35**

votes

**1**answer

2k 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

**0**answers

564 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

**1**answer

782 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, ...

**22**

votes

**6**answers

4k 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

**1**answer

450 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 ...

**20**

votes

**5**answers

2k 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

**8**answers

6k 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

**1**answer

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

**0**answers

409 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 ...

**55**

votes

**13**answers

11k 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 ...

**46**

votes

**14**answers

5k 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 ...

**14**

votes

**2**answers

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, ...

**65**

votes

**10**answers

9k views

### Why do Bernoulli numbers arise everywhere?

I have seen Bernoulli numbers many times, and sometimes very surprisingly. They appear in my textbook on complex analysis, in algebraic topology, and of course, number theory. Things like the criteria ...

**29**

votes

**13**answers

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 ...

**18**

votes

**3**answers

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

**6**answers

965 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 ...

**17**

votes

**6**answers

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

**1**answer

561 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

**0**answers

291 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 ...

**8**

votes

**0**answers

610 views

### Counting Lattice Points in Real Polytopes

Suppose one did have an exact formula for the number of $\mathbb{Z}^n$-lattice points intersecting an arbitrary dilate of a (not necessarily rational) finite, closed and convex $n$-polytope. As a ...

**8**

votes

**1**answer

660 views

### Analogue to Serre spectral sequence for cofiber sequences and homotopy

(This is a follow-up question to this one).
As it is nicely outlined in an answer to this question, homotopy groups behave well with respect to (Serre)-fibrations and (co)homology groups behave well ...

**66**

votes

**34**answers

11k 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 ...

**13**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Why does homotopy behave well with respect to fibrations and homology with respect to cofibrations?

(I apologize that this is a vague question).
I seems to me somehow that homotopy groups behave well with respect to (Serre)-fibrations. For example you get a long exact sequence of homotopy groups ...

**7**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### what can be said about the choice of a prior in Bayesian statistics?

When reading about the Bayesian approach to statistics, priors are an important component of the whole methodology.
Yet, it seems like priors are chosen without any specific theoretical motivation. ...

**24**

votes

**10**answers

2k views

### Are infinite dimensional constructions needed to prove finite dimensional results?

Infinite dimensional constructions, such as spaces of diffeomorphisms, spectra, spaces of paths, and spaces of connections, appear all over topology. I rather like them, because they sometimes help me ...

**40**

votes

**14**answers

6k views

### Does any research mathematics involve solving functional equations?

This is a somewhat frivolous question, so I won't mind if it gets closed. One of the categories of Olympiad-style problems (e.g. at the IMO) is solving various functional equations, such as those ...

**66**

votes

**52**answers

24k views

### Theorems that are 'obvious' but hard to prove

There are several well-known mathematical statements that are 'obvious' but false (such as the negation of the Banach--Tarski theorem). There are plenty more that are 'obvious' and true. One would ...

**9**

votes

**11**answers

3k views

### What advanced Area of Mathematics can be delved into with only basic Calculus and Linear Algebra

Hello Mathoverflow Community,
I would really appreciate some advice on this:
All I know is Basic Calculus and Basic Linear Algebra,
I want to start learning more advanced material on my own while ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Narratives in Modular Curves

I've tried several times to read up on modular curves, and I've despaired every time. It seems that there are several competing narratives, that all get enfused and conspire to befuddle me. There are ...

**79**

votes

**16**answers

8k views

### What makes four dimensions special?

Do you know properties which distinguish four-dimensional spaces among the others?
What makes four-dimensional topological manifolds special?
What makes four-dimensional differentiable manifolds ...

**25**

votes

**8**answers

4k views

### How should one think about sheafification and the difference between a sheaf and a presheaf

The first time I got in touch with the abstract notion of a sheaf on a topological space $X$, I thought of it as something which assigns to an open set $U$ of $X$ something like the ring of continuous ...

**80**

votes

**17**answers

23k views

### What recent discoveries have amateur mathematicians made?

E.T. Bell called Fermat the Prince of Amateurs. One hundred years ago Ramanujan amazed the mathematical world. In between were many important amateurs and mathematicians off the beaten path, but what ...

**17**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### How and how much do the notations and diagrams influence our understanding of mathematical concepts?

How and how much do the notations and diagrams influence
our understanding of mathematical
concepts?
This question was stimulated by the MathOverflow questions Thinking and Explaining and ...

**51**

votes

**11**answers

5k views

### Why certain diophantine equations are interesting (and others are not) ?

It is quite clear why certain differential equations, among the jungle of possible diff equations that is possible to conceive, are studied: some come from physical problems, or from "spontaneous" ...

**4**

votes

**4**answers

4k views

### Why do we want to have orthogonal bases in decompositions?

In the decompositions I encountered so far, we all had orthogonal set of bases. For example in Singular Value Decomposition, we had orthogonal singular right and left vectors, in [discrete] cosine ...

**7**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### Hecke-algebras in your field of mathematics

(How) do Hecke-algebras arise naturally in your field of mathematics and why are they important?
How would you define them and how do you think about them?
e.g. generators and relations, functions ...

**13**

votes

**16**answers

1k views

### Generalized notions of solutions in various areas of mathematics

In many areas of mathematics (PDE, Algebra, combinatorics, geometry) when we have difficulty in coming with a solution to a problem we consider various notions of "generalized solutions". (There are ...