The gm.general-mathematics tag has no usage guidance.

**15**

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**3**answers

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### Thom's Principle: rich structures are more numerous in low dimension

Marcel Berger states Thom's Principle as:
"rich structures are more numerous in low dimension,
and poor structures are more numerous in high dimension."
This is in
Geometry II
...

**88**

votes

**20**answers

12k views

### Mathematical habits of thought and action which would be of use to non-mathematicians

Once again I come to MO for help with something I'm writing for the public.
Which habits of mathematicians -- aspects of the way we approach problems, the way we argue, the way we function as a ...

**2**

votes

**5**answers

978 views

### Circumference of convex shapes

Here is a puzzle I found in "Mitteilungen der DMV" (roughly "Letters of the German Society of Mathematicians") issue 19/2011. It was posed by Alfred Schreiber in "Wie man Hasen fangt" (How to catch ...

**49**

votes

**5**answers

5k views

### Changing field of study post-PhD

I am doing my PhD in algebraic graph theory, for not much more reason than that was what was available. However, I love deep structure and theory in mathematics, and I do not particularly want to be ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

689 views

### Stylistic question

I'm writing up a paper now where I'm the only author and have a stylistic question.
Should I write ''I'' or ''we'' as in ''I/we recall the definition...'' etc. I think this simple example will make ...

**2**

votes

**0**answers

172 views

### Finite topological dimension x local compactness

Of course, the two notions are independent one from the other, but often one of them implies the other under some additional hypotheses. For instance:
A topological vector space is finite dimensional ...

**32**

votes

**9**answers

4k views

### Dimensional Analysis in Mathematics

Is there a sensible and useful definition of units in mathematics? In other words, is there a theory of dimensional analysis for mathematics?
In physics, an extremely useful tool is the Buckingham Pi ...

**15**

votes

**14**answers

3k views

### What are some examples of “chimeras” in mathematics?

The best example I can think of at the moment is Conway's surreal number system, which
combines 2-adic behavior in-the-small with $\infty$-adic behavior in the large. The surreally
simplest element ...

**22**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### Where do surreal numbers come from and what do they mean?

I know about Conway's original discovery of the surreal numbers by way of games,
as well as Kruskal's way of viewing surreal numbers in terms of asymptotic behavior
of real-valued functions, leading ...

**23**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### An elementary problem in Euclidean geometry [closed]

This problem was first put to me by Luke Pebody (who did not know the answer at the time) and after some work I am yet to find a proof or counterexample. I would be grateful of any insights.
Call a ...

**8**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Naturally occurring orderings

The are many orderings that naturally occur in interesting but seemingly unrelated circumstances. Here are some examples:
The volume spectrum of orientable hyperbolic 3-manifolds has order type ...

**24**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Overview of the interplay of Harmonic Analysis and Number Theory

I'm kind of disappointed that the question here was never sharpened.
The Laplacian $\Delta$ on the upper half-plane is $-y^{2}(\partial^{2}/\partial x^{2}+\partial^{2}/\partial y^{2}))$. Suppose $D$ ...

**6**

votes

**10**answers

899 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 ...

**37**

votes

**14**answers

3k views

### A set for which it is hard to determine whether or not it is countable.

I got thinking recently, while trying to come up with a problem, that I did not know of any sets which were reasonable to define but for which it was very difficult to determine whether or not they ...

**8**

votes

**3**answers

886 views

### P vs. NP resistant problems

According to Stephen Cook on wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P_versus_NP_problem
...it would transform mathematics by allowing a computer to find a formal proof of any theorem which has a ...

**114**

votes

**16**answers

15k views

### When should a supervisor be a co-author?

What are people's views on this? To be specific: suppose a PhD student has produced a piece of original mathematical research. Suppose that student's supervisor suggested the problem, and gave a few ...

**3**

votes

**0**answers

635 views

### How many projects do you work on concurrently? [closed]

I was wondering how many concurrent research projects a typical math researcher works on at a given time. I ask because I currently have the oppertunity to start a second project on something I'm ...

**2**

votes

**1**answer

314 views

### A question on a special type of function

Suppose I have a function $f$, and positive integers $x$ and $y$ such that $x$ is a
square, $x \ne y$ and $y \ne \sqrt{x}$.
Now, assume that:
$|\frac{f(x)}{y} - \frac{f(y)}{x}| > 2$
...

**3**

votes

**0**answers

1k views

### Where does Aphex Twin's “windowlicker” equation come from? [closed]

$\Delta M_i^{-1} = -\alpha \sum\limits_{n=1}^N D_i [n] \left[\sum\limits_{j \in C[i]} F_{ji} [n-1] + Fext_i [n^{-1}]\right]$
This is the name of the second song on Aphex Twin's album "Windowlicker". ...

**9**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Spaces with a quasi triangle inequality

How do you call a space with a function which is symmetric, non negative, positive definite and which satisfies a quasi-triangle inequality:
$d(x,z) \leq C( d(x,y)+d(y,z) )$
for all $x,y,z$ and some ...

**14**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Card game / options pricing / Brownian bridge question

We play a game. I shuffle a deck of cards and start dealing them face up. After any card you can say "stop", at which point I pay you 1 dollar for every red card dealt and you pay me 1 for every black ...

**14**

votes

**12**answers

2k views

### Why semigroups could be important?

There is known a lot about the use of groups -- they just really appear a lot, and appear naturally. Is there any known nice use of semigroups in Maths to sort of prove they are indeed important in ...

**7**

votes

**2**answers

927 views

### Are there uncountably many essentially inequivalent versions of Mathematics?

Hi everyone,
Disclaimer 1: logic and set theory are a long way from my field, so apologies in advance if I demonstrate extreme ignorance or stupidity, and please correct me if (when?) I write stupid ...

**1**

vote

**0**answers

290 views

### Why semigroups are important? [closed]

There is known a lot about semigroups, mostly about their inner structure etc. But is there any use of semigroups in the general Maths -- like that of groups?

**1**

vote

**1**answer

459 views

### Is there a conjunction bias?

This is slightly related to question The unprecedented success of the “intersection” operator .
Apart from a set of maths books of null measure, most have the following property:
Objects ...

**2**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Advice on Giving a Talk [closed]

What advice do you have for giving a talk on a mathematical research paper to people in other fields in science (not physics nor astronomy) but without lot of math background?
Thanks.

**4**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Who is this guy : Z.A. Melzak (wrote Companion to Concrete Mathematics) ? [closed]

Author : Z.A. Melzak
Book Title : Companion to Concrete Mathematics.
Publication : Dover renewed 2004 2 volumes in one. Copyright 1972/1976.
I found this book extremely nice.
To whet your appetite ...

**4**

votes

**3**answers

681 views

### Is the componentwise square-root of a positive-definite matrix also pos.-def.?

Let $A=(a_{ij}) \in \mathbb{R}^{n \times n}$ be a matrix with $a_{ij} = a_{ji} \geq 0$ and
$B=(b_{ij})$ with $b_{ij} = \sqrt{a_{ij}}$.
Is $B$ positive-definite whenever $A$ is?
In other words:
...

**-2**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Unpopular “elementary” theorems/identities to impress an audience of mathematicians. [closed]

This question grew out of my recent job interview. Since the interviewers were math professors, I had a hard time searching for interesting elementary theorems in case I got asked for one.
I thought ...

**63**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Good ways to engage in mathematics outreach?

Greetings all, I have often heard that it would be good if we as a community did more in the way of mathematics outreach: more to explain what it is we do to the community at large, more to expose ...

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votes

**94**answers

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### What would you want to see at the Museum of Mathematics?

EDIT (30 Nov 2012): MoMath is opening in a couple of weeks, so this seems like it might be a good time for any last-minute additions to this question before I vote to close my own question as "no ...

**7**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Technical trends quietly aimed at big open problems? [closed]

When I was an undergraduate 35 years ago, I made the mistake of asking some of my mathematics professors what well-known open problems they liked to think about. I got the message that this was ...

**9**

votes

**11**answers

3k views

### What advanced Area of Mathematics can be delved into with only basic Calculus and Linear Algebra

Hello Mathoverflow Community,
I would really appreciate some advice on this:
All I know is Basic Calculus and Basic Linear Algebra,
I want to start learning more advanced material on my own while ...

**13**

votes

**16**answers

2k views

### Individual mathematical objects whose study amounts to a (sub)discipline? [closed]

Certain mathematical objects have a theory so rich that their study
alone arguably constitutes a distinct (sub)discipline. My own list
would begin with
1) the absolute Galois group of the rationals;
...

**1**

vote

**0**answers

165 views

### Regarding a Feature of Multivariate Real Function

Any real function can be expressed as a function of the sum of two monotonic real functions?
More precisely, for real function p(x, y), there exist continuous real functions P(x), h(x,y), g(x) such ...

**1**

vote

**0**answers

531 views

### What is the name for(a^2 + b^2 + c^2 +…)/(a + b + c +…)? [closed]

That is, the sum of squares of some numbers divided by the sum of the numbers. The term "anti-harmonic mean" has been coined for this quantity. I'm hoping there is a better name.

**55**

votes

**6**answers

7k views

### Still Difficult After All These Years

I think we all secretly hope that in the long run mathematics becomes easier, in that with advances of perspective, today's difficult results will seem easier to future mathematicians. If I were ...

**55**

votes

**26**answers

5k views

### Proof synopsis collection

I hate to keep going with the big lists, but the question about one-sentence summaries of topics/areas spurred this question...and I just can't help myself!
Definition (Fraleigh): A proof synopsis ...

**15**

votes

**36**answers

3k views

### Basic results with three or more hypotheses

Consider the following statement of the Arzela-Ascoli theorem.
Theorem. Let K be a compact topological space and let S be a subset of C(K). Then S is relatively compact if and only if S is uniformly ...

**13**

votes

**2**answers

844 views

### Is there a name for sets for which it is easier to test membership than to find members---and vice versa?

This is a question my son Bob asked me. For some sets it is relatively easy
to test for membership but a lot more difficult to find members, and for others
the reverse is true. Here is an elementary ...

**46**

votes

**8**answers

3k views

### Has anyone thought about creating a formal proof wiki with verifier?

Mathematics has undergone some rather nice developments recently with the adoption of new techologies, things like on-line journals, the arXiv, this website, etc. I imagine there must be many further ...

**3**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Theorems true but wrong. [closed]

Many theorems have the form : Premise(es) implies Conclusion(s)
Example A of wrongness:
There are many examples in which a theorem is stated without mentioning that part of the premise is not ...

**46**

votes

**6**answers

5k views

### Does a referee have to check carefully the proof ?

I have always checked very carefully the papers I was refereeing when I wanted to suggest "accept". Actually I spend almost as much time checking the maths of a paper I referee than checking the maths ...

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votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Why is the Gaussian so pervasive in mathematics?

This is a heuristic question that I think was once asked by Serge Lang. The gaussian: $e^{-x^2}$ appears as the fixed point to the Fourier transform, in the punchline to the central limit theorem, as ...

**2**

votes

**2**answers

946 views

### Example of a function that behaves like another function

I need a function $f(x)$ with the following properties -
It should be monotonically non-decreasing.
For $x \geq 1$, $x + \frac{1}{x} - f(x) < \epsilon$ where $\epsilon$ is an extremely small ...

**8**

votes

**3**answers

578 views

### What is the strategy for “all words valid” scrabble?

The rules for "all words valid" scrabble are exactly the same as ordinary scrabble, except that every single combination of letters is in the dictionary. To make the game deterministic, we will also ...

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votes

**37**answers

23k views

### Demonstrating that rigour is important

Any pure mathematician will from time to time discuss, or think about, the question of why we care about proofs, or to put the question in a more precise form, why we seem to be so much happier with ...

**7**

votes

**1**answer

614 views

### Sum of subset of geometric series: a^2^n

The formula for 1 + a + a^2 + .... where 0 < a < 1 is $\frac{1}{1-a}$, but what if you wanted to sum only those where the exponent is a power of 2? That is,
$S = a + a^2 + a^4 + a^8 + \cdots$
...

**40**

votes

**8**answers

3k views

### Published results: when to take them for granted?

Two kinds of papers. There are two kinds of papers: self-contained ones, and those relying on published results (which I believe are the vast majority).
Checking the result. Of course, one should ...

**2**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Proofs by induction [closed]

Background
I'm interested in the issue of "explanatory" mathematical proofs and would like to try to find out what intuitions mathematicians have about induction, because there seems to be some ...