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**117**

votes

**39**answers

35k views

### Most interesting mathematics mistake?

Some mistakes in mathematics made by extremely smart and famous people can eventually lead to interesting developments and theorems, e.g. Poincaré's 3d sphere characterization or the search to prove ...

**49**

votes

**5**answers

6k 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 ...

**56**

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 ...

**47**

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 ...

**129**

votes

**19**answers

17k 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 ...

**45**

votes

**19**answers

7k views

### Are there proofs that you feel you did not “understand” for a long time?

Perhaps the "proofs" of ABC conjecture or newly released weak version of twin prime conjecture or alike readily come to your mind. These are not the proofs I am looking for. Indeed my question was ...

**67**

votes

**10**answers

8k views

### Have you solved problems in your sleep?

I have hit upon major (for me—relative to my trivial accomplishments)
insights in my research
in various sleep-deprived altered states of consciousness,
e.g., long solo car-drives extending ...

**35**

votes

**33**answers

4k views

### Structures that turn out to exhibit a symmetry even though their definition doesn't

Sometimes (often?) a structure depending on several parameters turns out to be symmetric w.r.t. interchanging two of the parameters, even though the definition gives a priori no clue of that symmetry. ...

**34**

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 ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### What are the applications of operator algebras to other areas?

Question: What are the applications of operator algebras to other areas?
More precisely, I would like to know the results in mathematical areas outside of operator algebras which were proved by ...

**33**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Negative impact of wrong or non-rigorous proofs

The recent talks of Voevodsky (for example, http://www.math.ias.edu/~vladimir/Site3/Univalent_Foundations_files/2014_IAS.pdf), which describe subtle errors in proofs by him as well as others, as well ...

**42**

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 ...

**34**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Famous vacuously true statements

I am interested to know other examples vacuously true statements that are non-trivial. My starting example is Turan's result in regards to the Riemann hypothesis, which states
Suppose that for each $...

**12**

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;
...

**28**

votes

**15**answers

2k views

### Objects which can't be defined without making choices but which end up independent of the choice

It happens a lot of times that when one defines a new object (ring, module, space, group, algebra, morphism, whatever) out of given data one first chooses some additional structure. And sometimes (...

**12**

votes

**0**answers

360 views

### Which limit to take as a key applied math decision

The Borel-Kolmogorov paradox refers to situations where non-uniqueness in the notion of conditioning on a set of measure zero leads to apparent contradictions. As a formal matter, one requires ...

**18**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Results that are easy to prove with a computer, but hard to prove by hand [closed]

Consider the assertion:
There is no completely multiplicative function $f:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow \{\pm 1\}$ with $\left|\sum_{n\leq x}f(n)\right|\leq 2$ for all $x\geq 0$.
One can write a very short ...

**8**

votes

**1**answer

678 views

### On the parity of $[x^n]$

I am trying to find a problem which appeared years ago in the American Mathematical Monthly. It went something like this: There was a Putnam Competition question which asked to show that there is a ...

**2**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### When did you “meet Polya”? [closed]

I guess most of us didn't meet Polya in person (this is the answer to the title)! Perhaps, it is much easier to guess that most of us have met one of his writings (or alike) on problem solving, and ...

**-5**

votes

**3**answers

799 views

### Where is the belly button of the Universe? [closed]

It's fine and nice and wonderful when a part of learning mathematics is chaotic, ad hoc, spontaneous, social, ...
However it would be perhaps of fundamental value to know a very central point of ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

507 views

### Sources of Theorem drafts by the original author

When I look at first time to a theorem and I try to understand it or when I try to memorise a useful theorem I always have difficulties (I am not the only one. For example: I read a question: I always ...

**3**

votes

**6**answers

1k 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 ...