66
votes
6answers
7k views

Mistakes in mathematics, false illusions about conjectures

Since long time ago I have been thinking in two problems that I have not been able to solve. It seems that one of them was recently solved. I have been thinking a lot about the motivation and its ...
4
votes
1answer
396 views

Examples of “nice” properties of algebraic extensions of $\mathbb{Q}$

I am writing a short survey of some "nice'' properties of algebraic extensions of $\mathbb{Q}$. Let's say a property (P) is nice if every finite extension of $\mathbb{Q}$ satisfies (P), and if $K ...
2
votes
1answer
282 views

Examples of Quot schemes

I'm studying Quot schemes, that I denote with $Quot_{N,X,P}$, with $N \in \mathbb{Z}$, $X \subset \mathbb{P}^d$ and $P \in \mathbb{Q}[t]$. So, I'm looking for explicit examples of Quot schemes. Could ...
7
votes
2answers
196 views

Natural $\Pi^1_2$ (or worse) classes of structures?

(To clarify, my interest is mainly lightface, that is, $\Pi^1_2$ instead of $\bf \Pi^1_2$, although it doesn't particularly matter.) This is just an idle curiosity. In logic, I find myself frequently ...
14
votes
10answers
2k views

An example of a proof that is explanatory but not beautiful? (or vice versa)

This question has a philosophical bent, but hopefully it will evoke straightforward, mathematical answers that would be appropriate for this list (like my earlier question about beautiful proofs ...
7
votes
7answers
966 views

Gelfand representation and functional calculus applications beyond Functional Analysis

I think it is fair to say that the fields of Operator Algebras, Operator Theory, and Banach Algebras rely on Gelfand representation and functional calculus in a crucial way. I am curious about ...
6
votes
0answers
174 views

what's the role of $H^{p}(\mathbb{R}^{n})$ in modern (harmonic) analysis?

The classical theory of $H^p$,due to it's heavy dependence on the complex function theory(such as Blaschke products), seemed to have an insurmountable obstacle barrying its extension to several ...
1
vote
0answers
120 views

Algebraic properties of the semiring of open subsets.

Does anyone know of a useful general topological application of the algebraic properties of the semiring of open subsets of some topological space? Or examples of any such nontrivial properties at ...
39
votes
35answers
6k views

Examples of theorems with proofs that have dramatically improved over time

I am looking for examples of theorems that may have originally had a clunky, or rather technical, or in some way non-illuminating proof, but that eventually came to have a proof that people consider ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

Excellent uses of induction and recursion

Can you make an example of a great proof by induction or construction by recursion? Given that you already have your own idea of what "great" means, here it can also be taken to mean that the chosen ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Easy and Hard problems in Mathematics [closed]

Modified question: I would like to know some examples of problems in Mathematics, for pedagogical purposes, which do not involve difficult techiques to solve the problem but with a change of context ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

When are technical assumptions critical? [closed]

Apart from their technical statement and proof, a usual presentation of theorems is by leading up to them with a definite motivation or intuition, for example putting the results in the wider context ...
3
votes
2answers
922 views

Is beauty at the high school level even possible? [closed]

This question is a follow up to 74841, and follows from a suggestion by Gian-Carlo Rota that beauty as judged by the educated public differs from that experienced by mathematicians (he gives Euclidean ...
32
votes
22answers
6k views

Examples of seemingly elementary problems that are hard to solve?

I'm looking for a list of problems such that a) any undergraduate student who took multivariable calculus and linear algebra can understand the statements, (Edit: the definition of understanding here ...
40
votes
44answers
13k views

An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...
6
votes
3answers
298 views

Non-trivial integral forms of algebras

Suppose $\mathcal{A}$ is a $\mathbf{C}$-algebra then an integral form would be a subring $\mathcal{B} \subset \mathcal{A}$ such that the canonical map $\mathcal{B} \otimes_{\mathbf{Z}} \mathbf{C} ...
6
votes
10answers
824 views

Examples of “Unusual” Classifications

When one says "classification" in math, usually one of a handful of examples springs to mind: -Classification of Finite Simple Groups with 18 infinite families and 26 sporadic examples (assuming one ...
43
votes
29answers
9k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Advanced Math Jokes [closed]

I am looking for jokes which involve some serious mathematics. Sometimes, a totally absurd argument is surprisingly convincing and this makes you laugh. I am looking for jokes which make you laugh and ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Classification Problems [closed]

I was thinking about the famous question in philosophy of mathematics: "When are two proofs the same?" and I was wondering if we could somehow "classify" proofs by establishing some sort of functorial ...
116
votes
67answers
36k views

Awfully sophisticated proof for simple facts [closed]

It is sometimes the case that one can produce proofs of simple facts that are of disproportionate sophistication which, however, do not involve any circularity. For example, (I think) I gave an ...
92
votes
59answers
16k views

Jokes in the sense of Littlewood: examples? [closed]

First, let me make it clear that I do not mean jokes of the "abelian grape" variety. I take my cue from the following passage in A Mathematician's Miscellany by J.E. Littlewood (Methuen 1953, p. 79): ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

What are your favorite finite non-commutative rings?

When you are checking a conjecture or working through a proof, it is nice to have a collection of examples on hand. There are many convenient examples of commutative rings, both finite and infinite, ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

The harmonic (series) beetle: live illustrations of mathematical theorems

In my analysis class I use the following problem to illustrate the divergence of the harmonic series (consider this as a hint for solving it). Exercise. A beetle creeps along a 1-meter infinitely ...
24
votes
20answers
6k views

Nontrivial question about fibonacci numbers?

I'm looking for a nontrivial, but not super difficult question concerning Fibonacci numbers. It should be at a level suitable for an undergraduate course. Here is a (not so good) example of the sort ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What are examples of theorems get extensions based on simple observation?

Here are some examples illustrate what I meant: Bonnet-Myers:Bonnet in 1855 proved n=2 case, Myers in 1941 extended to any dimension using the same idea. Bishop-Gromov Volume comparison: Bishop knew ...
13
votes
27answers
2k views

Justifying a theory by a seemingly unrelated example

Here is a topic in the vein of Describe a topic in one sentence and Fundamental examples : imagine that you are trying to explain and justify a mathematical theory T to a skeptical mathematician ...
45
votes
27answers
4k views

books well-motivated with explicit examples

It is ultimately a matter of personal taste, but I prefer to see a long explicit example, before jumping into the usual definition-theorem path (hopefully I am not the only one here). My problem is ...
57
votes
23answers
21k views

What are the most misleading alternate definitions in taught mathematics?

I suppose this question can be interpreted in two ways. It is often the case that two or more equivalent (but not necessarily semantically equivalent) definitions of the same idea/object are used in ...
42
votes
34answers
3k views

Dimension Leaps

Many mathematical areas have a notion of "dimension", either rigorously or naively, and different dimensions can exhibit wildly different behaviour. Often, the behaviour is similar for "nearby" ...
112
votes
130answers
26k 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 ...
35
votes
78answers
8k views

What is the first interesting theorem in (insert subject here)? [closed]

In most students' introduction to rigorous proof-based mathematics, many of the initial exercises and theorems are just a test of a student's understanding of how to work with the axioms and unpack ...
105
votes
75answers
32k views

Best online mathematics videos?

I know of two good mathematics videos available online, namely: Sphere inside out (part I and part II) Moebius transformation revealed Do you know of any other good math videos? Share.
82
votes
81answers
63k views

Do good math jokes exist? [closed]

Have a good joke? Share. I know this is subjective, but the principle "should be of interest to mathematicians" trumps. (I hope.)