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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38
votes
7answers
4k 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. ...
-4
votes
0answers
88 views

Löwenheim–Skolem as an argument for discrete mathematics? [closed]

At least as far as first-order theories go, one could construe the (downward) Löwenheim–Skolem theorem as an incentive to invest more in discrete models rather than in continuous ones. This would ...
54
votes
9answers
4k 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
1answer
480 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 ...
82
votes
38answers
14k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
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 ...
70
votes
25answers
28k 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 ...
25
votes
9answers
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 ...
19
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
348 views

Categories with binary relations as objects

For the category of functions, pairs of functions making commutative diagrams are the canonical morphisms $\alpha:f\rightarrow g$. For binary relations there is an alternative, to consider the ...
63
votes
11answers
12k 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" ...
50
votes
11answers
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 ...
198
votes
22answers
23k 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 ...
64
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
380 views

Computer Science applications of Roth's Theorem [closed]

I have been reading about Additive Combinatorics and in particular Roth's theorem which states any positive upper density set has infinitely many 3-step arithmetic progressions. Let $A \subset ...
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, ...
12
votes
0answers
163 views

What do tangles teach us about braids?

A braid is a smooth level-preserving embedding $f\colon\, \{1,2,\ldots,n\}\times[0,1]\hookrightarrow \mathbb{R}^2 \times [0,1]$ such that $f(k,0)=(k,0)$ and $f(k,1) \in \{1,2,\ldots,n\} \times ...
49
votes
13answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
328 views

Why are Witten-Reshetikhin-Turaev invariants expected to be integral?

A Witten-Reshetikhin-Turaev (WRT) Invariant $\tau_{M,L}^G(\xi)\in\mathbb{C}$ is an invariant of closed oriented 3-manifold $M$ containing a framed link $L$, where $G$ is a simple Lie group, and $\xi$ ...
6
votes
1answer
321 views

Differences in philosophy between Lie Groups and Differential Galois Theory

As far as I have heard,Sophus Lie's aim was to construct an analogue of galois theory for differential galois theory. I am familiar with lie group but not with differential galois theory. What is the ...
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. ...
43
votes
11answers
5k views

What precisely Is “Categorification”?

(And what's it good for.) Related MO questions (with some very nice answers): examples-of-categorification; can-we-categorify-the-equation $(1-t)(1+t+t^2+\dots)=1$?; categorification-request.
15
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Big Picture: What is the connection of Malliavin calculus with differential geometry?

I know that Paul Malliavin was heavily influenced by ideas from differential geometry while developing his calculus on Wiener space. But what are the concrete analogies between both areas of ...
23
votes
9answers
5k views

Why are polynomials so useful in mathematics?

This is perhaps unanswerable, or perhaps I am too algebraically ignorant to phrase it cogently, but: Is there some identifiable reason that polynomials over $\mathbb{C}$, $\mathbb{R}$, ...
70
votes
16answers
16k 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 ...
11
votes
0answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
533 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
3k views

Heuristic behind the Fourier-Mukai transform

What is the heuristic idea behind the Fourier-Mukai transform? What is the connection to the classical Fourier transform? Moreover, could someone recommend a concise introduction to the subject?
3
votes
0answers
474 views

Differential Galois number theory

Following http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/635659/can-the-error-term-involved-in-the-pnt-be-expressed-in-a-galois-theoretic-framew?noredirect=1#comment1341143_635659, I vainly tried to find ...
53
votes
33answers
8k views

Experimental Mathematics

I would like to ask about examples where experimentation by computers have led to major mathematical advances. Motivation I am aware about a few such cases and I think it will be useful to gather ...
7
votes
5answers
992 views

Advice on choosing an area of specialization

I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question for MO, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. I'm a second year graduate student, currently gearing up to construct a committee and syllabus for my ...
6
votes
1answer
240 views

Under which constraints are there only finite numbers of irreducible eta product identities?

For the Dedekind eta function, defined as usual by $\eta(q) = q^{\frac1{24}} \prod\limits_{n=1}^{\infty} (1-q^{n})$, let for brevity $e_k:=\eta(q^k)$. An eta product identity (or eta identity for ...
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 ...
10
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 ...
33
votes
33answers
4k views

Structures that turn out to exhibit a symmetry even though their definition doesn't

Sometimes (often?) a structure depending on several parameters turns out to be symmetric w.r.t. interchanging two of the parameters, even though the definition gives a priori no clue of that symmetry. ...
58
votes
52answers
19k 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 ...
15
votes
12answers
2k views

What are some fundamental “sources” for the appearance of pi in mathematics?

I thought it might be fun to ask this question as a way of celebrating Pi Day. One way in which people popularize pi is that they say that even though it's defined in terms of properties of a circle, ...
5
votes
0answers
71 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 ...
11
votes
0answers
421 views

How come Cartan did not notice the close relationship between symmetric spaces and isoparametric hypersurfaces?

Elie Cartan made fundamental contributions to the theory of Lie groups and their geometrical applications. Among those, we can list the introduction of the remarkable family of Riemannian symmetric ...
33
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 ...
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
167 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
132 views

Toric ideal of slice of a polytope?

Given a collection $A:=\{a_1, \ldots ,a_n \}$ of different integer points in $\mathbb{N}^d$, which span an affine hyperplane when viewed in $\mathbb{R}^d$, one can define a toric ideal $I_A$ from a ...
18
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
683 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
403 views

Getting the story of Dynkin and Satake diagrams straight

I've been trying to teach myself the theory of Lie groups. The sources I've been reading reference Lie algebras in the context of Dynkin and Satake diagrams, but not Lie groups (which I am more ...
45
votes
18answers
7k 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 are ...
-2
votes
2answers
637 views

Accidental, unplanned breakthroughs in Mathematics [closed]

In math/physics, or generally in science, there are many moments where the success and the triumph come from the accidental, unplanned attempts. Moreover, there are some cases that originally having ...
12
votes
6answers
811 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 ...