**64**

votes

**16**answers

6k 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 ...

**128**

votes

**72**answers

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 ...

**92**

votes

**25**answers

37k 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 ...

**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 ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

290 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.
...

**40**

votes

**24**answers

7k 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.
...

**60**

votes

**32**answers

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 ...

**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

3k 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 ...

**27**

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, ...

**30**

votes

**5**answers

5k 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 ...

**26**

votes

**9**answers

6k 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 ...

**0**

votes

**0**answers

65 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, ...

**89**

votes

**42**answers

17k 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 ...

**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 ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

908 views

### Why we study Geometric invariant theory?

I am trying to learn Geometric invariant theory like it was introduced by Mumford. But I do not have a strong motivation and so I want to know the reason of studying Geometric invariant theory. I just ...

**5**

votes

**1**answer

299 views

### Surreal numbers, ultrapowers of $\Bbb R$, ordinal-valued functions and the slow-growing hierarchy

Philip Ehrlich's paper “The Absolute Arithmetic Continuum and the Unification of All Numbers Great and Small”, The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 18 (1) 2012, pp. 1-45. claims as a theorem that, in NBG, ...

**18**

votes

**4**answers

3k 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 ...

**5**

votes

**2**answers

592 views

### Mazur's torsion theorem on elliptic curves and its generalisations

I want to study Mazur's torsion theorem for elliptic curves over $Q$ and its generalizations for number fields, i.e., papers by Kamienny, Kenku & Momose, Filip Najman. So please suggest to me what ...

**131**

votes

**132**answers

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 ...

**16**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Category theory and model theory as “natural” counterparts

I am aware of the profound discussion of the relationship between category theory and model theory (e.g. at The n-Category Café) but do wonder why category theory (CT) is not opposed to model theory ...

**11**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### What´s essential to learn about complex spaces and several complex variables for an algebraic geometer?

Hi, I don´t know if this question is suitable for this site. The field of several complex variables is too broad, so I would like to know what´s essential to learn about complex spaces and several ...

**22**

votes

**9**answers

2k 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 ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

238 views

### What is the applications of the dg-enhancements of derived categories of sheaves

Let $X$ be a scheme and let $D^b_{\text{coh}}(X)$ be the derived category of complexes of sheaves with bounded, coherent cohomologies.
We know that the category $D^b_{\text{coh}}(X)$ has some ...

**79**

votes

**11**answers

9k 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 ...

**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 ...

**38**

votes

**8**answers

10k views

### Modern algebraic geometry vs. classical algebraic geometry

Can anyone offer advice on roughly how much commutative algebra, homological algebra etc. one needs to know to do research in (or to learn) modern algebraic geometry. Would you need to be familiar ...

**13**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### What is lambda calculus related to?

So I'm not much of a math guy but I've really enjoyed programming in Lisp and have become interested in the ideas of lambda calculus which it is based.
I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion ...

**0**

votes

**3**answers

1k 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 (?) ...

**4**

votes

**2**answers

686 views

### What's so special about $1$-categories?

I have been pretty thoroughly convinced for some time now that, when thinking about mathematics, one really should be thinking 'categorically', that is, one should always be thinking of the morphisms ...

**60**

votes

**34**answers

9k 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 ...

**24**

votes

**1**answer

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 ...

**76**

votes

**18**answers

7k 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 ...

**33**

votes

**0**answers

4k views

### Grothendieck's manuscript on topology

Edit: Infos on the current state by Lieven Le Bruyn: http://www.neverendingbooks.org/grothendiecks-gribouillis
Edit: Just in case anyone still thinks that Grothendieck's unpublished manuscripts are ...

**23**

votes

**6**answers

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 ...

**2**

votes

**1**answer

301 views

### Statistical distance between discrete and continuous distributions

Are there any statistical distance functions that are capable of comparing a continuous and a discrete distribution? From reading this list
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_distance
the only ...

**-3**

votes

**1**answer

291 views

### How many of Ramanujan's discoveries have had a practical application? [closed]

I was reading about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who, before dying at the age of 32, independently compiled nearly 3900 results (this is from Wikipedia). So based on this he seems to ...

**2**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Why Riemann Hypothesis so important [closed]

I am often hearing people emphasized how important the RH is,one of them said that it should lead to an efficient way of determining whether a given large number is prime,and the other said,RH would ...

**2**

votes

**0**answers

170 views

### Interpretation of Shannon Entropy Application

Consider a collection of increasing positive integers $\{a_i\}_{i=1}^m$ and the distribution $p_i=\frac{a_i}{\sum_{i=1}^ma_i}$. Let entropy of $\mathcal{A}=\{a_i\}_{i=1}^m$ be given
by ...

**4**

votes

**2**answers

298 views

### Can one make a category concrete by “enlarging the universe”?

This is more or less a followup of this question. There, it was established that (it is well known that) the homotopy category of topological spaces is not concrete, in other words, there is no ...

**16**

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 ...

**7**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### The resolution of which conjecture/problem would advance Mathematics the most? [closed]

This is an impossibly broad question, and makes the unwarranted assumption that Mathematics is a uniform field. It might make more sense to ask the same question restricted to, say, Mathematical ...

**-3**

votes

**1**answer

132 views

### Decidable theorem or result that is not weaker than Tarski's theorem

I am wondering what other decidable theorem or results that is not weaker or stronger than Tarski's theorem.
Could any one give reference or a simple introduction about such result known in their ...

**9**

votes

**4**answers

974 views

### What is about J. v. Neumann's “Continuous geometry”?

I am curious about von Neumann's "Continuous geometry", but found no recent text or survey on it. Does anyone know the book and would be so nice to share their impression, and if/how the concept of ...

**38**

votes

**7**answers

5k views

### “Algebraic” topologies like the Zariski topology?

The fact that a commutative ring has a natural topological space associated with it is still a really interesting coincidence. The entire subject of Algebraic geometry is based on this simple fact.
...

**55**

votes

**9**answers

5k views

### How does one find out what's happening in contemporary mathematics research?

How does one find out what's happening in contemporary mathematics research?
EDIT: I should have mentioned that I am looking for open access online sources. It so happens that I have been outside ...

**15**

votes

**1**answer

582 views

### 3D generalizations of permutations, RSK correspondence, contingency tables, etc.

I want to gather facts and questions related to 3D generalizations
of permutations, RSK correspondence, contingency tables,
etc. One reason I am interested in this is because it is potentially
related ...

**11**

votes

**5**answers

3k 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 ...

**25**

votes

**9**answers

1k views

### Continuous relations?

What might it mean for a relation $R\subset X\times Y$ to be continuous? In topology, category theory or in analysis? Is it possible, canonical, useful?
I have a vague idea of the possibility of ...

**21**

votes

**8**answers

3k views

### Examples of intuition from fields other than Physics to solve math problems

This is a chaser for the examples of using physical intuition to solve math problems question.
Physical intuition seems to be used relatively frequently for solving math problems as well as stating ...