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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14
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
66
votes
15answers
13k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
981 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 ...
49
votes
11answers
4k 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" ...
2
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
852 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 ...
12
votes
16answers
993 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Brownian motion, martingales, Markov Chains - Rosetta Stone

What are the most fundamental/useful/interesting ways in which the concepts of Brownian motion, martingales and markov chains are related? I'm a graduate student doing a crash course in ...
3
votes
0answers
389 views

Quantized Calculus, the Hilbert Transform and the Upper Half-Plane

Given a *-algebra $\mathcal{A}$ over $\mathbb{C}$, a Fredholm module is a *-representation $\pi$ of $\mathcal{A}$ as operators on a Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$ along with a self-adjoint operator $F$ ...
29
votes
9answers
4k 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 ...
68
votes
18answers
6k views

How do you decide whether a question in abstract algebra is worth studying?

Dear MO-community, I am not sure how mature my view on this is and I might say some things that are controversial. I welcome contradicting views. In any case, I find it important to clarify this in my ...
5
votes
2answers
673 views

Number of ways to construct mathematical objects

This question stems from this other one mentioning 7 ways of constructing smooth manifolds. I quote: At the 2010 Clay Research Conference, Gromov explained that we know of only 7 different methods ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Online math history lectures

This question is somewhat similar to this: Best online mathematics videos? I'm using the word "history" loosely here. What I'm looking for are those lectures that put various mathematical ...
186
votes
21answers
21k views

Thinking and Explaining

How big a gap is there between how you think about mathematics and what you say to others? Do you say what you're thinking? Please give either personal examples of how your thoughts and words ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Integrals from a non-analytic point of view

I've mentioned before that I'm using this forum to expand my knowledge on things I know very little about. I've learnt integrals like everyone else: there is the Riemann integral, then the Lebesgue ...
3
votes
1answer
366 views

Morava's “Motives and cell bundles”?

Hello, do you know more about, or some exposition of Morava's talk?
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Applications of Math: Theory vs. Practice

I have a problem: I learned about a lot of the applications of mathematics from academics. Neither they nor I have had much contact with the "real world" to go and see for ourselves how mathematics ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Linear/Non-linear sigma model

This is slightly an open-ended invitation to discuss references and reasons for excitement about the linear and non-linear sigma model. I gauge from some other interactions that it has considerable ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Graphical representation of mathematical structures (in the spirit of unified modeling language)

In software engineering the unified modeling language ("UML") is a well established technique for providing overview of complex systems and an efficient means of communicating about them. There are ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

P not eq. NP news?: [closed]

"Vinay Deolalikar. P is not equal to NP. 6th August, 2010 (66 pages 10pt, 102 pages 12pt). Manuscript sent on 6th August to several leading researchers in various areas. Confirmations began arriving ...
16
votes
7answers
4k views

What is Realistic Mathematics?

This post is partially about opinions and partially about more precise mathematical questions. Most of this post is not as formal as a precise mathematical question. However, I hope that most readers ...
102
votes
3answers
4k views

Analytic tools in algebraic geometry

This is not a very precise question, but I hope it will get some good answers. As someone with a background in smooth manifold theory, I have experienced algebraic geometry as a beautiful but foreign ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

The unprecedented success of the “intersection” operator

You might think that the title is an overstatement of a well-known fact but it is the best title I can come up with for the wonders the intersection operator does in some fields of math. ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a common genesis for ADE classifications?

Recall that a certain type of object admits an ADE classification if there is a notion of equivalence relative to which equivalence classes of objects of the given type can be placed in one-to-one ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Is the dual notion of a presheaf useful?

It seems that there is a common theme in mathematics where, if we want to find out about a category C, then we look at $\hat{C}$ (the category of contravariant functors from $C$ to $Set$). There are ...
0
votes
3answers
943 views

Intuitions/connections/examples for “eigen-*”

There are many concepts in mathematics that begin with the German word "eigen": eigenvector, eigenvalue, eigenspace, eigenstate, eigenfunction, eigensystem etc. (to name just the most important (?) ...
9
votes
0answers
999 views

Idea of presheaf cohomology vs. sheaf cohomology

Let $X$ be a topological space and $U$ an open cover of $X$. In this thread Angelo explained beautifully how presheaf cohomology (Cech cohomology) relates to sheaf cohomology: The zeroth Cech ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Intuition and/or visualisation of Ito integral/Ito's lemma

Riemann-sums can e.g. be very intuitively visualized by rectangles that approximate the area under the curve. See e.g. Wikipedia:Riemann sum The Ito integral has due to the unbounded total variation ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Defining variable, symbol, indeterminate and parameter

Are there precise definitions for what a variable, a symbol, a name, an indeterminate, a meta-variable, and a parameter are? In informal mathematics, they are used in a variety of ways, and often in ...
35
votes
5answers
2k views

What's wrong with the surreals?

Of all the constructions of the reals, the construction of the surreals seems the most elegant to me. It seems to immediately capture the total ordering and precision of Dedekind cuts at a ...
22
votes
8answers
2k views

Intuitive and/or philosophical explanation for set theory paradoxes

Every student of set theory knows that the early axiomatization of the theory had to deal with spectacular paradoxes such as Russel's, Burali-Forti's etc. This is why the (self-contradictory) ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Geometric interpretation of the fundamental groupoid

Motivation The common functors from topological spaces to other categories have geometric interpretations. For example, the fundamental group is how loops behave in the space, and higher homotopy ...
17
votes
8answers
3k views

To what extent is it true that “number theory = mathematics”? [closed]

In a thought-provoking answer to this MO question, Kevin Buzzard and several commentators have described a multitude of ways in which number theory is related to other parts of mathematics. It seems ...
62
votes
24answers
26k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
864 views

A Sketch of “Esquisse d'un Programme”

I'm refering, of course, to Grothendieck's ambitious program available fully here: http://www.math.jussieu.fr/~leila/grothendieckcircle/EsquisseFr.pdf The text is, as described in its title, a ...
11
votes
2answers
443 views

What do you use categorical glueing/sconing/Freyd covers for?

In the theory of programming languages and structural proof theory, one of the handiest techniques we have available is a method called "logical relations", in which you can prove properties of ...
63
votes
10answers
6k views

Why are modular forms interesting?

Well, I'm aware that this question may seem very naive to the several experts on this topic that populate this site: feel free to add the "soft question" tag if you want... So, knowing nothing about ...
8
votes
0answers
385 views

What is the origin of the formula for the Lie derivative along a Killing vector?

Background Let $(M,g)$ be an $n$-dimensioal riemannian manifold. A vector field $X$ on $M$ is said to be a Killing vector if the flow it generates is an isometry; that is, it preserves the metric ...
31
votes
13answers
2k views

Equality vs. isomorphism vs. specific isomorphism

This question prompted a reformulation: What is a really good example of a situation where keeping track of isomorphisms leads to tangible benefit? I believe this to be a serious question because ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Big picture concerning Ito integral, Stratonovich integral and standard results in probability theory

I am confused and don't get the big picture concerning the connection between Ito integral Stratonovich integral Standard results in probability theory concerning skewed distributions. Example: ...
16
votes
3answers
809 views

Natural setting for characteristic classes?

In my mind, algebraic topology is comprised of two components: Chain complex information, which is intrinsic information concerning how your object may be built up out of simple "lego blocks". ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

Are there any “homotopical spaces” ?

This is a somewhat vague question; I don't know how "soft" it is, and even if it makes sense. [Edit: in the light of the comments, we can state my question in a formally precise way, that is: "Is ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it true that the only interesting topologies are metric topologies and weak topologies?

In "Infinite dimensional analysis, A hitchhikers guide" by Aliprantis and Border, they write that these 2 classes of topologies "by and large include everything of interest". @Pete Clarke: I was ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Are rings really more fundamental objects than semi-rings?

The discovery (or invention) of negatives, which happened several centuries ago by the Chinese, Indians and Arabs, has of course be of fundamental importance to mathematics. From then on, it seems ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Path integrals outside QFT

The main application of Feynman path integrals (and the primary motivation behind them) is in Quantum Field Theory - currently this is something standard for physicists, if even the mathematical ...
54
votes
6answers
7k views

How to find ICM talks?

I am very interested in reading some and skimming through the list of invited talks at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Since the proceedings contain talks supposedly by top experts in ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

Is the ABC conjecture known to imply the Riemann hypothesis?

I once heard from a graduate student that the ABC conjecture implies the Riemann hypothesis. I can't find a reference for this, but given the department the student is from I tend to believe he might ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

Mathematics of path integral: state of the art

I was told that one of the most efficient tools (e.g. in terms of computations relevant to physics, but also in terms of guessing heuristically mathematical facts) that physicists use is the so called ...
25
votes
5answers
5k views

Doing geometry using Feynman Path Integral?

I have often heard in the folk-lore that Feynman Path Integral can be used to compute geometric invariants of a space. Coming from a background of studying Quantum Field Theory from the books like ...
7
votes
3answers
911 views

Does the presence of cocycle conditions indicate the existence of an underlying cohomology theory?

Motivation: We have two examples: (Abelian) Kummer theory (resp. Artin-Schreier theory) has a hidden cohomology theory given by Galois cohomology. The cocycle conditions become clear when you look ...