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61
votes
23answers
22k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Algebraic varieties which are topological manifolds

Inspired by this thread, which concludes that a non-singular variety over the complex numbers is naturally a smooth manifold, does anyone know conditions that imply that the topological space ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Examples of noncommutative analogs outside operator algebras?

Theo's question made me wonder if there are other "noncommutative analogs" outside of operator algebras. Some noncommutative analogs from operator algebras include: A $C^\ast$-algebra is a ...
5
votes
3answers
635 views

Gerbes for a cyclic group. (or maybe G_m too)

Let μn be the group scheme of n-th roots of unity. If X is a scheme and L is a line bundle on X, then I can construct a μn-gerbe Y over X by letting the S-points of Y be a S-point of X, a line ...
34
votes
12answers
5k views

Combinatorial results without known combinatorial proofs

Stanley likes to keep a list of combinatorial results for which there is no known combinatorial proof. For example, until recently I believe the explicit enumeration of the de Brujin sequences fell ...
47
votes
33answers
4k 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" ...
0
votes
3answers
217 views

Where to find nice diagrams of trees and other graphs? [closed]

Are there some publicly available, vector format diagrams of trees and other graphs? They aren't hard to make, but they sure do take a lot of time (for me).
12
votes
0answers
542 views

Pencils with many completely decomposable fibers

Let $F= \frac{G}{H} : \mathbb P^n \to \mathbb P^1$ be a non-constant rational function ($G$ and $H$ homogenous polynomials of the same degree in $\mathbb C^{n+1})$. The fiber over $(\lambda:\mu) \in ...
117
votes
130answers
27k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
669 views

Simple applications of Atiyah-Bott localization

I am looking for some simple and concrete -- but still non-trivial and illustrative -- applications of Atiyah-Bott localization in the context of equivariant cohomology. Do you know any good ones?
6
votes
1answer
558 views

“Vector bundle” with non-smoothly varying transition functions

I'm working my way through Lang's Fundamentals of Differential Geometry, and when he introduces vector bundles, he states that for finite dimensional bundles, the third axiom is redundant. I'm hoping ...
7
votes
5answers
819 views

Examples of left reversible semigroups

I am looking for concrete examples of cancellative, left reversible semigroups. Left reversible semigroups are also called "Ore semigroups". See this wikipedia page for the definition of a left ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there pairs of highly connected finite CW-complexes with the same homotopy groups?

Fix an integer n. Can you find two finite CW-complexes X and Y which * are both n connected, * are not homotopy equivalent, yet * $\pi_q X \approx \pi_q Y$ for all $q$. In Are there two ...
2
votes
1answer
239 views

Hausdorff Derived Series

There is a short section in the book Locally Compact Groups by Markus Stroppel (Chapter B7) on the notion of a "Hausdorff Solvable Group", which he defines as a topological group with a descending ...
9
votes
1answer
332 views

Can an algebraic space fail to have a unviersal map to a scheme?

Let $\mathcal{X}$ be an algebraic space. Can it happen that there does not exist a map $\mathcal{X} \to X$ with $X$ a scheme that is initial for maps from $\mathcal{X}$ to schemes? Are there ...
6
votes
3answers
693 views

Examples of birational equivalence of a variety and a hypersurface

There's an algebraic geometry theorem (I.4.9 in Hartshorne) that says: any variety of dimension r (over an algebraically closed field) is birationally equivalent to a hypersurface in projective space ...
12
votes
3answers
537 views

Constructing a degeneration (as a group scheme) of G_m to G_a

SGA 3, expose 12, remark 1.6 says that one can easily construct a group scheme over a discrete valuation ring with generic fiber Gm and special fiber Ga. What is such an example?
7
votes
2answers
743 views

Folding by Automorphisms

Background reading: John Stembridge's webpage. The idea is that when you want to prove a theorem for all root systems, sometimes it suffices to prove the result for the simply laced case, and then ...
7
votes
3answers
940 views

Nonprojective Surface

Let k be an algebraically closed field. It's well known that every complete curve, period, is projective. Also, that every smooth surface is, and that there are smooth 3-folds which are not, and ...
27
votes
6answers
4k views

Algebraically closed fields of positive characteristic

I'm taking introductory algebraic geometry this term, so a lot of the theorems we see in class start with "Let k be an algebraically closed field." One of the things that's annoyed me is that as far ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Why does the power series expressing e^x have the form of a constant raised to x ? [closed]

This question is probably very basic, but I've been away from school for a while and the answer eludes me. I was tempted to prove that d/dx(e^x) = (e^x) for old times sake and that was easy enough. I ...
32
votes
17answers
4k views

Canonical examples of algebraic structures

Please list some examples of common examples of algebraic structures. I was thinking answers of the following form. "When I read about a [insert structure here], I immediately think of [example]." ...
26
votes
7answers
2k views

Does any method of summing divergent series work on the harmonic series?

It's sort of folklore (as exemplified by this old post at The Everything Seminar) that none of the common techniques for summing divergent series work to give a meaningful value to the harmonic ...
6
votes
0answers
558 views

“a theory of generalized Donaldson-Thomas invariants” by Joyce & Song

Is anyone else working through this paper : http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.5645 ? I am trying to verifying example 6.2 (m=2 for simplicity) using only the definitions, namely: J^{2\alpha}(\tau) = -1/4 ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

Examples where Kolmogorov's zero-one law gives probability 0 or 1 but hard to determine which?

Inspired by this question, I was curious about a comment in this article: In many situations, it can be easy to apply Kolmogorov's zero-one law to show that some event has probability 0 or ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Proof of no rational point on Selmer's Curve 3x^3+4y^3+5z^3=0

The projective curve $3x^3+4y^3+5z^3=0$ is often cited as an example (given by Selmer) of a failure of the Hasse Principle: the equation has solutions in any completion of the rationals $\mathbb Q$, ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Some intuition behind the five lemma?

Slightly simplified, the five lemma states that if we have a commutative diagram (in, say, an abelian category) $$\require{AMScd} \begin{CD} A_1 @>>> A_2 @>>> A_3 @>>> A_4 ...
37
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
409 views

Which commutative rigs arise from a distributive category?

A rig is an algebraic object with multiplication and addition, such that multiplication distributes over addition and addition is commutative. However, instead of requiring that the set forms an ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

What are the most important instances of the “yoga of generic points”?

In algebraic geometry, an irreducible scheme has a point called "the generic point." The justification for this terminology is that under reasonable finiteness hypotheses, a property that is true at ...
120
votes
26answers
14k views

What are some reasonable-sounding statements that are independent of ZFC?

Every now and then, somebody will tell me about a question. When I start thinking about it, they say, "actually, it's undecidable in ZFC." For example, suppose A is an abelian group such that every ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

What representative examples of modules should I keep in mind?

So here's my problem: I have no intuition for how a "generic" module over a commutative ring should behave. (I think I should never have been told "modules are like vector spaces.") The only ...
108
votes
75answers
34k 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.
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Examples and intuition for arithmetic schemes

How should a beginner learn about arithmetic schemes (interpret this as you wish, or as a regular scheme, proper and flat over Spec(Z))? What are the most important examples of such schemes? Good ...
28
votes
15answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
7answers
523 views

Given a sequence defined on the positive integers, how should it be extended to be defined at zero?

This question is inspired by a lecture Bjorn Poonen gave at MIT last year. I have ideas of my own, but I'm interested in what other people have to say, so I'll make this community wiki and post my ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Graded local rings versus local rings

A lot of times I see theorems stated for local rings, but usually they are also true for "graded local rings", i.e., graded rings with a unique homogeneous maximal ideal (like the polynomial ring). ...
3
votes
5answers
796 views

Is very ampleness of a divisor on a curve determined entirely by degree and genus?

Edit: Apparently the answer is "no", so what is an example of two curves of genus g, and a divisor of degree d on each, such that one is very ample and the other is not? Question as originally ...
39
votes
21answers
6k views

What's a groupoid? What's a good example of a groupoid?

Or more specifically, why do people get so excited about them? And what's your favorite easy example of one, which illustrates why I should care (and is not a group)?
92
votes
81answers
68k 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.)
6
votes
1answer
480 views

Example where you *need* non-DVRs in the valuative criteria

The valuative criterion for separatedness (resp. properness) says that a morphism of schemes (resp. a quasi-compact morphism of schemes) f:X→Y is separated (resp. proper) if and only if it ...
4
votes
2answers
629 views

Operator Valued Weights

One of the basic tools in subfactors is the conditional expectation. If $N\subset M$ is a $II_1$-subfactor (or an inclusion of finite factors), then there is a unique trace-preserving conditional ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Examples of rational families of abelian varieties.

I'd like to know examples of non-trivial families of abelian varieties over rational bases (e.g. open subschemes of the projective line P^1). One can generate many examples as Jacobians of rational ...
4
votes
7answers
1k views

Hochschild/Cyclic Homology of von Neumann Algebras: Useless?

Hochschild homology gives invariants of (unital) $k$-algebras for $k$ a unital, commutative ring. If we let our algebra $A$ be the group ring $k[G]$ for $G$ a finite group, we get group homology. ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Is the long line paracompact?

A manifold is usually defined as a second-countable hausdorff topological space which is locally homeomorphic to Rn. My understanding is that the reason "second-countable" is part of the definition is ...
13
votes
3answers
862 views

Is there an example of a variety over the complex numbers with no embedding into a smooth variety?

Is there an example of a variety over the complex numbers with no embedding into a smooth variety?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there an example of a formally smooth morphism which is not smooth?

A morphism of schemes is formally smooth and locally of finite presentation iff it is smooth. What happens if we drop the finitely presented hypothesis? Of course, locally of finite presentation is ...
3
votes
3answers
664 views

Does the “continuous locus” of a function have any nice properties?

Suppose f:R→R is a function. Let S={x∈R|f is continuous at x}. Does S have any nice properties? Here are some observations about what S could be: S can be any closed set. For a closed set ...
6
votes
1answer
397 views

Can one check formal smoothness using only one-variable Artin rings?

Let f:X -> Y be a morphism of schemes over a field k. Can one check that f is formally smooth using only Artin rings of the form k'[t]/t^n, where k' is also a field? Considering cuspidal curves one ...
11
votes
1answer
638 views

Is there an example of a scheme X whose reduction X_red is affine but X is not affine?

For Noetherian schemes this follows from Serre's criterion for affineness by a filtration argument.