**119**

votes

**16**answers

17k 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 ...

**98**

votes

**26**answers

31k 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 ...

**92**

votes

**5**answers

7k 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 ...

**85**

votes

**17**answers

19k 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 ...

**84**

votes

**0**answers

6k 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 ...

**74**

votes

**8**answers

6k 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 ...

**74**

votes

**9**answers

16k 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 ...

**72**

votes

**4**answers

12k 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 ...

**64**

votes

**23**answers

22k 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 ...

**61**

votes

**21**answers

8k 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 ...

**61**

votes

**2**answers

4k 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 ...

**58**

votes

**1**answer

4k 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 ...

**57**

votes

**15**answers

8k 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 ...

**54**

votes

**2**answers

15k 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 ...

**54**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Why does $d^n \exp(-x-x^{-1})/(dx)^n$ only have $n$ positive real zeroes?

Set $f(x) = \exp(-x-x^{-1})$. An easy induction shows that
$$\frac{d^n}{(dx)^n} f(x) = \phi_n(x^{-1}) f(x)$$
for $\phi_n$ a polynomial of degree $2n$. Clearly, the roots of $\phi_n(x^{-1})$ are the ...

**52**

votes

**9**answers

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 ...

**51**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### History of $\frac d{dt}\tan^{-1}(t)=\frac 1{1+t^2}$

Let $\theta = \tan^{-1}(t)$. Nowadays it is taught:
1º that
$$
\frac{d\theta}{dt} = \frac 1{dt\,/\,d\theta} = \frac 1{1+t^2},
\tag1
$$
2º that, via the fundamental theorem of calculus, this is ...

**50**

votes

**4**answers

3k 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 ...

**49**

votes

**3**answers

5k views

### Is this differential identity known?

Recently I discovered the differential identity
$$ \frac{d^{k+1}}{dx^{k+1}} (1+x^2)^{k/2} = \frac{(1 \times 3 \times \dots \times k)^2}{(1+x^2)^{(k+2)/2}}$$
valid for any odd natural number $k$; for ...

**47**

votes

**9**answers

8k 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?

**47**

votes

**7**answers

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 $Y_\mu(x)$ ...

**44**

votes

**22**answers

13k 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 ...

**44**

votes

**16**answers

8k 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 ...

**44**

votes

**2**answers

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 ...

**39**

votes

**16**answers

6k 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 ...

**38**

votes

**1**answer

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 ...

**37**

votes

**2**answers

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 ...

**35**

votes

**1**answer

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 ...

**34**

votes

**7**answers

7k 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 ...

**34**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### On an example of an eventually oscillating function

For $x\in(0,1)$, put
$$f(x):=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}(-1)^{n}x^{2^{n}}.$$
This function possesses interesting properties. It grows monotonically from $0$ up to certain point. Then it starts to oscillate ...

**34**

votes

**3**answers

5k 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 ...

**33**

votes

**4**answers

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 ...

**32**

votes

**7**answers

4k views

### Does the formal power series solution to $f(f(x))= \sin( x) $ converge?

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 ...

**32**

votes

**3**answers

3k 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 ...

**31**

votes

**19**answers

7k views

### Interesting applications (in pure mathematics) of first-year calculus

What interesting applications are there for theorems or other results studied in first-year calculus courses?
A good example for such an application would be using a calculus theorem to prove a ...

**31**

votes

**15**answers

10k 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 ...

**31**

votes

**7**answers

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 ...

**31**

votes

**5**answers

15k 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 ...

**31**

votes

**1**answer

1k 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 $(-1,1)$
...

**30**

votes

**3**answers

2k 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 ...

**30**

votes

**2**answers

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), ...

**30**

votes

**1**answer

2k 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, ...

**30**

votes

**0**answers

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} ...

**29**

votes

**6**answers

3k 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: ...

**29**

votes

**11**answers

27k views

### Why is the gradient normal?

This is a somewhat long discussion so bear with me. There is a theorem that I have always been curious about from an intuitive standpoint. This is an issue that has been glossed over in most ...

**29**

votes

**4**answers

2k 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
$$
...

**28**

votes

**7**answers

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 ...

**28**

votes

**1**answer

865 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
...

**27**

votes

**7**answers

7k views

### Way to memorize relations between the Sobolev spaces?

Consider the Sobolev spaces $W^{k,p}(\Omega)$ with a bounded domain $\Omega$ in n-dimensional Euclidean space. When facing the different embedding theorems for the first time, one can certainly feel ...

**27**

votes

**3**answers

2k 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? ...