**86**

votes

**42**answers

11k views

### Experimental Mathematics

I would like to ask about examples where experimentation by computers have led to major mathematical advances.
A new look
Now as the question is five years old and there are certainly more examples ...

**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 ...

**10**

votes

**1**answer

586 views

### Foundations of topology

I recently went to a talk of Oleg Viro where he expressed his dissatisfaction with current foundations of differential topology parallel to what has been discussed here.
Also some time ago I read ...

**24**

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 ...

**105**

votes

**45**answers

19k 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 ...

**46**

votes

**14**answers

6k 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 ...

**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 ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

137 views

### Most natural equivalence between $C^*$-algebras in NCG

I have listen or read that, in the context of noncommutative geometry, Morita equivalence is a more natural equivalence for $C^*$-algebras than $*$-isomorphism.
Can someone explain this sentence or ...

**24**

votes

**10**answers

3k views

### What are some interesting problems in the intersection of Algebraic Number Theory and Algebraic Topology?

I'm a beginning graduate student and while my background is primarily in algebraic number theory, I've found myself a bit smitten with the subject of algebraic topology recently after only having read ...

**43**

votes

**10**answers

2k views

### What advantage humans have over computers in mathematics?

Now that AlphaGo has just beaten Lee Sedol in Go and Deep Blue has beaten Garry Kasparov in chess in 1997, I wonder what advantage humans have over computers in mathematics?
More specifically, are ...

**22**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### Expert, Intuitive, Organizing Analogies

In learning a new area it is very helpful to have high-level intuitive analogies that keep track of the various parts of an important argument or strategy. Experts have a store of such things, and ...

**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 ...

**33**

votes

**1**answer

2k 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 ...

**56**

votes

**12**answers

3k views

### Why is Set, and not Rel, so ubiquitous in mathematics?

The concept of relation in the history of mathematics, either consciously or not, has always been important: think of order relations or equivalence relations.
Why was there the necessity of singling ...

**35**

votes

**25**answers

6k views

### Where can square roots come from when they are not distances?

In a recent survey "Supergeometry in Mathematics and Physics", Kapranov points out cases in which observable quantities of immediate interest are represented as bilinear combinations of more ...

**28**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Grothendieck says: points are not mere points, but carry Galois group actions

Apologies in advance if this question is too elementary for MO. I didn't find an explanation of these ideas in any algebraic geometry books (I don't know French).
The following is an excerpt from ...

**0**

votes

**1**answer

574 views

### Generalization of join of simplicial complexes

The join of two abstract simplicial complexes $K$ and $L$, denoted $K\star L$ is defined as a simplicial complex on the base set $V(K)\dot{\cup} V(L)$ whose simplices are disjoint union of simplices ...

**27**

votes

**0**answers

487 views

### Atiyah-Singer theorem-a big picture

So far I made several attempts to really learn Atiyah-Singer theorem. In order
to really understand this result rather broad background is required: you need
to know analysis (pseudodifferential ...

**80**

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 ...

**11**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Why the search for ever larger primes?

I understand why primes are useful numbers and also why the product of large primes are useful such as for application in public key cryptography, but I am wondering why it is useful to continue the ...

**45**

votes

**7**answers

3k 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 ...

**241**

votes

**21**answers

30k 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 ...

**2**

votes

**1**answer

309 views

### A morphism-revealing category? [closed]

The constructs can be considered as subcategories of Set but when considered as subcategories of the category SubSet, of pairs of sets with pairs $(X,S)$, $S\subseteq X$, as objects and functions ...

**82**

votes

**15**answers

7k views

### Proposals for polymath projects

Background
Polymath projects are a form of open Internet collaboration aimed towards a major mathematical goal, usually to settle a major mathematical problem. This is a concept introduced in 2009 by ...

**2**

votes

**0**answers

109 views

### Intuition behind the Duistermaat-Guillemin version of Weyl's law

The theorem in question (see this paper), after a modification by Ivrii (see this paper) states the following:
Let $(M, g)$ be a compact Riemannian manifold of dimension $n \geq 2$. Assume that the ...

**149**

votes

**77**answers

24k 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 ...

**7**

votes

**1**answer

129 views

### Classifying two-faces of four-polytopes

Motivation: This question is related to my study of hyperbolic Coxeter polytopes. In general, if one put some restrictions on the type of their dihedral angles (say, all dihedral angles are equal to ...

**59**

votes

**22**answers

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 ...

**9**

votes

**2**answers

926 views

### Integrable dynamical system - relation to elliptic curves

From seminar on kdV equation I know that for integrable dynamical system its trajectory in phase space lays on tori. In wikipedia article You may read (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrable_system):
...

**48**

votes

**22**answers

8k views

### What's a groupoid? What's a good example of a groupoid? [closed]

Or more specifically, why do people get so excited about them? And what's your favorite easy example of one, which illustrates why I should care (and is not a group)?

**123**

votes

**27**answers

53k 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 ...

**13**

votes

**1**answer

462 views

### Axiom of choice as zero dimensionality

In the paper Quantifiers and Sheaves by Lawvere, at the bottom of the second page, the author writes:
"... the condition that every epi splits, which geometrically we would call 0-dimensionality ...

**81**

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 ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

233 views

### What kinds of limits does localization of commutative rings reflect?

Localization of commutative rings is a left exact left adjoint, so it behaves nicely with plenty of things. Local-to-global principles are also abundant in commutative algebra, and I thought some of ...

**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 ...

**86**

votes

**12**answers

17k views

### What is an integrable system

What is an integrable system, and what is the significance of such systems? (Maybe it is easier to explain what a non-integrable system is.) In particular, is there a dichotomy between "integrable" ...

**3**

votes

**0**answers

325 views

### Mystery behind ADE Dynkin diagram [duplicate]

ADE Dynkin diagram classifies:
finite type quiver (Gabriel's theorem)
du Val singularity (minimal resolution of $\mathbb{C}^2/G$, $G$ is a finite subgroup of $SL_2(\mathbb{C})$)
simply laced simple ...

**25**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### A toolbox for algebraic topology

This question has a very general part and a rather concrete part.
General:
When one wants to prove something in algebraic topology (actually in all parts of mathematics) one obviously needs some ...

**18**

votes

**2**answers

821 views

### how do you visualize characteristic class?

For cohomology, there are some equivalent definitions when the object we consider is sufficiently nice. Since I mainly work with algebraic variety, I will restrict the objects I am considering to be ...

**7**

votes

**2**answers

571 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?

**145**

votes

**136**answers

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 ...

**1**

vote

**0**answers

98 views

### Programmatically computing dual Hopf algebras: state of the art

Given a graded Hopf algebra of finite type, we know the (graded) linear dual is also a graded Hopf algebra. For instance the dual Hopf algebra to the polynomial algebra on an even degree generator, ...

**11**

votes

**1**answer

223 views

### On Bailey–Borwein–Plouffe formula for irrational numbers

A BBP-type formula for an irrational number $\alpha$ in the integer base $b\geq 2$ is a formula in the form $\alpha=\Sigma_{k=0}^{\infty}\frac{1}{b^k}\frac{p(k)}{q(k)}$ ($p, q$ are polynomials in ...

**21**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Residual finiteness: why do we care?

Residually finite groups have been studied for a long time. However, I am struggling to work out why we care, or perhaps, why they continue to be of interest. Let me explain.
Magnus, in his 1968 ...

**9**

votes

**1**answer

400 views

### Grothendieck - sheaves as meter sticks

I'm trying to read parts of McLarty's Grothendieck on Simplicity and Generality. In the article, I read Grothendieck thought of sheaves over some topological space as meter sticks measuring it.
...

**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.
...

**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

**22**answers

4k views

### What are examples of good toy models in mathematics?

This post is community wiki.
A comment on another question reminded me of this old post of Terence Tao's about toy models. I really like the idea of using toy models of a difficult object to ...

**30**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Underlying idea for (automorphic) L-function?

Edit: So with a few more months of math under my belt, I recognize some of the issues with this question. I still hope for an answer, so let me say a few things.
Within the Langlands philosophy, ...

**33**

votes

**5**answers

6k views

### What is a cumulant really?

A cumulant is defined via the cumulant generating function
$$ g(t)\stackrel{\tiny def}{=} \sum_{n=1}^\infty \kappa_n \frac{t^n}{n},$$
where
$$
g(t)\stackrel{\tiny def}{=} \log E(e^{tX}).
$$
Cumulants ...