Special functions, orthogonal polynomials, harmonic analysis, ODE's, differential relations, calculus of variations, approximations, expansions, asymptotics.

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93
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16answers
13k views

How do I make the conceptual transition from multivariable calculus to differential forms?

One way to define the algebra of differential forms $\Omega(M)$ on a smooth manifold $M$ (as explained by John Baez's week287) is as the exterior algebra of the dual of the module of derivations on ...
81
votes
25answers
23k views

What is convolution intuitively?

If random variable $X$ has a probability distribution of $f(x)$ and random variable $Y$ has a probability distribution $g(x)$ then $(f*g)(x)$, the convolution of $f$ and $g$, is the probability ...
80
votes
5answers
6k views

Source and context of $\frac{22}{7} - \pi = \int_0^1 (x-x^2)^4 dx/(1+x^2)$?

Possibly the most striking proof of Archimedes's inequality $\pi < 22/7$ is an integral formula for the difference: $$ \frac{22}{7} - \pi = \int_0^1 (x-x^2)^4 \frac{dx}{1+x^2}, $$ where the ...
74
votes
17answers
15k views

Why is differentiating mechanics and integration art?

It is often said that "Differentiation is mechanics, integration is art." We have more or less simple rules in one direction but not in the other (e.g. product rule/simple <-> integration by ...
68
votes
0answers
5k views

Dropping three bodies

Consider the usual three-body problem with Newtonian $1/r^2$ force between masses. Let the three masses start off at rest, and not collinear. Then they will become collinear a finite time ...
64
votes
4answers
8k views

Does the inverse function theorem hold for everywhere differentiable maps?

(This question was posed to me by a colleague; I was unable to answer it, so am posing it here instead.) Let $f: {\bf R}^n \to {\bf R}^n$ be an everywhere differentiable map, and suppose that at each ...
63
votes
7answers
5k views

Is $ \sum\limits_{n=0}^\infty x^n / \sqrt{n!} $ positive?

Is $$ \sum_{n=0}^\infty {x^n \over \sqrt{n!}} > 0 $$ for all real $x$? (I think it is.) If so, how would one prove this? (To confirm: This is the power series for $e^x$, except with the ...
58
votes
8answers
13k views

How to solve f(f(x)) = cos(x) ?

I found the following interesting equation on some web page I cannot remember: $f(f(x))=\cos(x)$ Out of curiosity I tried to solve it, but realized that I do not have a clue how to approach such an ...
56
votes
20answers
7k views

Probabilistic Proofs of Analytic Facts

What are some interesting examples of probabilistic reasoning to establish results that would traditionally be considered analysis? What I mean by "probabilistic reasoning" is that the approach should ...
55
votes
1answer
3k views

A hard integral identity on MATH.SE

The following identity on MATH.SE $$\int_0^{1}\arctan\left(\frac{\mathrm{arctanh}\ x-\arctan{x}}{\pi+\mathrm{arctanh}\ x-\arctan{x}}\right)\frac{dx}{x}=\frac{\pi}{8}\log\frac{\pi^2}{8}$$ seems to be ...
52
votes
23answers
17k views

Why should one still teach Riemann integration?

In the introduction to chapter VIII of Dieudonné's Foundations of Modern Analysis (Volume 1 of his 13-volume Treatise on Analysis), he makes the following argument: Finally, the reader will ...
50
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it possible to express $\int\sqrt{x+\sqrt{x+\sqrt{x+1}}}dx$ in elementary functions?

I asked a question at Math.SE last year and later offered a bounty for it, but it remains unsolved even in the simplest case. So I finally decided to repost this case here: Is it possible to express ...
50
votes
15answers
7k views

What's a nice argument that shows the volume of the unit ball in $\mathbb R^n$ approaches 0?

Before you close for "homework problem", please note the tags. Last week, I gave my calculus 1 class the assignment to calculate the $n$-volume of the $n$-ball. They had finished up talking about ...
49
votes
9answers
3k views

Taking “Zooming in on a point of a graph” seriously

In calculus classes it is sometimes said that the tangent line to a curve at a point is the line that we get by "zooming in" on that point with an infinitely powerful microscope. This explanation ...
46
votes
4answers
2k views

Nonexistence of boundary between convergent and divergent series?

The following is a FAQ that I sometimes get asked, and it occurred to me that I do not have an answer that I am completely satisfied with. In Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis, following ...
44
votes
7answers
2k views

How closed-form conjectures are made?

Recently I posted a conjecture at Math.SE: $$\int_0^\infty\ln\frac{J_\mu(x)^2+Y_\mu(x)^2}{J_\nu(x)^2+Y_\nu(x)^2}\mathrm dx\stackrel{?}{=}\frac{\pi}{2}(\mu^2-\nu^2),$$ where $J_\mu(x)$ and $Y_\mu(x)$ ...
43
votes
16answers
7k views

Atiyah-Singer index theorem

Every year or so I make an attempt to "really" learn the Atiyah-Singer index theorem. I always find that I give up because my analysis background is too weak -- most of the sources spend a lot of ...
42
votes
2answers
2k views

Is a function with nowhere vanishing derivatives analytic?

My question is the following: Let $f\in C^\infty(a,b)$, such that $f^{(n)}(x)\ne 0$, for every $n\in\mathbb N$, and every $x\in (a,b)$. Does that imply that $f$ is real analytic? EDIT. According to a ...
38
votes
9answers
7k views

Why do functions in complex analysis behave so well? (as opposed to functions in real analysis)

Complex analytic functions show rigid behavior while real-valued smooth functions are flexible. Why is this the case?
38
votes
2answers
12k views

Is the analysis as taught in universities in fact the analysis of definable numbers?

Ten years ago when I studied in the university I had no idea about definable numbers, but I came to this concept myself. My thoughts were as follows: All numbers are divided into two classes: those ...
37
votes
16answers
5k views

How helpful is non-standard analysis?

So, I can understand how non-standard analysis is better than standard analysis in that some proofs become simplified, and infinitesimals are somehow more intuitive to grasp than epsilon-delta ...
37
votes
1answer
1k views

Microwaving Cubes

First a little background. Mircowaves do not heat uniformly. To help overcome this, your 'food' is rotated, however this is not usually sufficient to produce a totally uniform heating. Informally, the ...
36
votes
2answers
3k views

Alternating sum of square roots of binomial coefficients

Let $$ c_n = \sum_{r=0}^n (-1)^r \sqrt{\binom{n}{r}}. $$ It is clear that $c_n = 0$ if $n$ is odd. Remarkably, it appears that despite the huge positive and negative contributions in the sum ...
34
votes
3answers
4k views

On linear independence of exponentials

Problem. Let $\{\lambda_n\}_{n\in\mathbb N}$ be a sequence of complex numbers . Let's call a family of exponential functions $\{\exp (\lambda_n s)\}_{n\in\mathbb N}$ $F$-independent (where $F$ is ...
31
votes
18answers
9k views

Interesting Calculus Questions/Exercises

I am in the process of redesigning the calculus course that I have taught five or six times. What I would like to know is if anyone has some really good examples or exercises that I could either do ...
30
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a systematic method for differentiating under the integral sign?

This MO question by Tim Gowers reminded me of a question I've wondered about for some time. In the delightful book Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, Feynman praises the technique of differentiating ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

Which functions of one variable are derivatives ?

This is motivated by this recent MO question. Is there a complete characterization of those functions $f:(a,b)\rightarrow\mathbb R$ that are pointwise derivative of some everywhere differentiable ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Taylor's theorem and the symmetric group

Anytime I see an $n!$ in some formula, my instinct is to look for the symmetric group on $n$ letters coming in somewhere. I have never done this seriously with the $n!$ in Taylor's theorem. Question: ...
28
votes
7answers
2k views

How should an analytic number theorist look at Bessel functions?

(And a related question: Where should an analytic number theorist learn about Bessel functions?) Bessel functions occur quite frequently in analytic number theory. One example, Corollary 4.7 of ...
28
votes
7answers
3k views

formal power series convergence

I have spent some time using gp-pari. There is, of course, a formal power series solution to $ f(f(x)) = \sin x.$ It is displayed, below, identified by the symbol $g$ because I am not entirely sure ...
28
votes
1answer
1k views

Every real function has a dense set on which its restriction is continuous

The title says it all: if $f\colon \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ is any real function, there exists a dense subset $D$ of $\mathbb{R}$ such that $f|_D$ is continuous. Or so I'm told, but this leaves me ...
27
votes
15answers
8k views

What is the Implicit Function Theorem good for?

What are some applications of the Implicit Function Theorem in calculus? The only applications I can think of are: the result that the solution space of a non-degenerate system of equations ...
27
votes
3answers
1k views

A translation of the Cantor set contained in the irrationals

Let $C$ be the standard Cantor middle-third set. As a consequence of the Baire category theorem, there are numbers $r$ such that $C+r$ consists solely of irrational numbers, see here. What would ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

Must the set of lines through the origin on which a nonconstant entire function is bounded be finite?

If an entire function is bounded for all $z \in \mathbb{C}$, than it's a constant by Liouville's theorem. Of course an entire function can be bounded on lines through the origin $z=r \exp(i \phi), ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

Is “Napkin conjecture” open ? (ORIGAMI)

If false the following conjecture would be a nice counter intuitive fact. Given a square sheet of perimeter $P$ when folding it along Origami moves you end up with some polygonal flat figure with ...
27
votes
1answer
1k views

Geometric interpretation of the half-derivative?

For $f(x)=x$, the half-derivative of $f$ is $$\frac{d^{\frac{1}{2}}}{dx^{\frac{1}{2}}} x = 2 \sqrt{\frac{x}{\pi}} \;.$$ Is there some geometric interpretation of (Q1) this specific derivative, and, ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

Dynamical properties of injective continuous functions on $\mathbb{R}^d$

Let $\varphi:\mathbb{R}^d\to\mathbb{R}^d$ be an injective continuous function. Denote by $\varphi_n$ the $n$-th iterate of $\varphi$, i.e. $\varphi_n(x)=\varphi_{n-1}(\varphi(x))$ for all ...
27
votes
0answers
988 views

Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least n+1 zeros on $(-1,1)$

Let $f\in C^{\infty}(\mathbb{R},\mathbb{R})$ such that $f(x)=0$ on $\mathbb{R}\setminus (-1,1)$. Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least $n+1$ zeros on $(-1,1)$ ...
26
votes
1answer
1k views

An inequality for cosine of n

Can anyone provide a proof of the following inequality? If $n$ is a positive integer, $n\geq2$, then $$\cos(n) \leq 1 - 2^{-n}.$$ This is satisfied if $n$ is not within about $2^{-n/2}$ of a multiple ...
26
votes
0answers
1k views

Curious $q$-analogues

Consider the Fibonacci polynomials $$F_n (x) = \sum_{j = 0}^{\left\lfloor {n/2} \right\rfloor }\binom{n-j}{j} x^{n - 2j} $$ and the Lucas polynomials $$L_n (x) = \sum_{j = 0}^{\left\lfloor {n/2} ...
25
votes
6answers
6k views

Why are there so many smooth functions?

I do understand that my question might seem a little bit ignorant, but I thought about it a lot and still can't wrap my head around it. Analycity imposes very strong conditions on a map, from ...
25
votes
5answers
11k views

Inverse gamma function?

This is an analysis question I remember thinking about in high school. Reading some of the other topics here reminded me of this, and I'd like to hear other people's solutions to this. We have the ...
25
votes
1answer
784 views

A question of Erdős on equidistribution

In his book Metric Number Theory, Glyn Harman mentions the following problem he attributes to Erdős: Let $f(\alpha)$ be a bounded measurable function with period 1. Is it true that ...
24
votes
9answers
3k views

Why is the Laplacian ubiquitous?

The title says it all. I'm wondering why the Laplacian appears everywhere, e.g. number theory, Riemannian geometry, quantum mechanics, and representation theory. And people seems to care about their ...
24
votes
6answers
6k views

A question regarding a claim of V. I. Arnold

In his Huygens and Barrow, Newton and Hooke, Arnold mentions a notorious teaser that, in his opinion, "modern" mathematicians are not capable of solving quickly. Then, he adds that the exception that ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

Do these properties characterize differentiation?

Let $L: C^\infty(\mathbb{R}) \to C^\infty(\mathbb{R})$ be a linear operator which satisfies: $L(1) = 0$ $L(x) = 1$ $L(f \cdot g) = f \cdot L(g) + g \cdot L(f)$ Is $L$ necessarily the derivative? ...
24
votes
7answers
2k views

What examples of distributions should I keep in mind?

I'm learning a bit about the theory of distributions. What examples of distributions will help me develop good intuition? Definitions: Let $U$ be an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$. Write ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

Which differential equations allow for a variational formulation?

Many ODE's and PDE's arising in nature have a variational formulation. An example of what I mean is the following. Classical motions are solutions $q(t)$ to Lagrange's equation $$ ...
23
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a topology on growth rates of functions?

I've often idly wondered one can say about the collection of "growth rates". By growth rate, let's say we mean an equivalence class of functions (0,infty) \to (0,\infty), where two functions f_1,f_2 ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Do Abel summation and zeta summation always coincide?

This is a more focused version of Summation methods for divergent series. Let $a_n$ be a sequence of real numbers such that $\lim_{x \to 1^{-}} > \sum a_n x^n$ and $\lim_{s \to 0^{+}} > ...