History and philosophy of mathematics, biographies of mathematicians, mathematics education, recreational mathematics, communication of mathematics.

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Shuffle multiplication and generalized Leibniz rule in tensor calculus

The headline already says it: Is anybody (except me) aware of this formula for higher total covariant derivatives of tensor products? It is the simplest application of the commutative shuffle product ...
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71 views

Why are they called 'pernicious' numbers?

The definition of a pernicious number: In number theory, a pernicious number is a positive integer where the Hamming weight (or digit sum) of its binary representation is prime. The meaning of ...
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1answer
174 views

When was the “arrow notation” for functions first introduced?

When was the "arrow notation" $f: X \to Y$ for functions first introduced? Who introduced it and with which motivation? I ask this question in order to understand whether it was, in part, this ...
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2answers
219 views

Convention about “long” roots for simple Lie algebras of types ADE?

The classification of simple Lie algebras (over $\mathbb{C}$ or other sufficiently large field of characteristic 0) correlates these Lie algebras with the irreducible reduced root systems (in ...
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1answer
389 views

Did Brouwer evade uncountability?

I have the distinct memory of having often heard and read that intuitionism was inter alia geared to avoid Cantor's uncountable sets, and it may be that this was Brouwer's plan. But are there accounts ...
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233 views

Motivation behind Euler Theorem in differential geometry [migrated]

I am teaching a class on elementary differential geometry and I would like to know, for myself and for my students, something more about the history of Euler Theorem and Euler equation: the curvature ...
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1answer
420 views

Metric $d(A,B) = \mathbb P(\overline A\cup\overline B\mid A\cup B)$

I'm wondering where the relative probabilistic distance was first studied: $$d(A,B) =\mathbb P(\overline A\cup\overline B\mid A\cup B)$$ where $\overline A$ is the complement of $A$. A web search ...
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4answers
4k views

Are there any serious investigations of whether “mathematicians do their best work when they're young”?

There is no shortage of anecdotes and conjectures on both sides of this widespread belief, but good supporting data either way is harder to find. Can anyone provide any references for serious ...
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1answer
325 views

Discovery and Study of Conic Sections in Ancient Greece

Is there anything known about what drew the attention of ancient greek mathematicians to conic sections and, what were the models they used to study conic sections? What I would like to know, is ...
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154 views

Who first proved the fundamental theorem of projective geometry?

The following theorem is often called the fundamental theorem of projective geometry: Let $k$ be a field and let $n \geq 3$. Let $X$ be the partially ordered set of nonzero proper subspaces of ...
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235 views

What is the reason that $\sigma$-algebra replaced $\sigma$-ring in introductory measure theory?

May I ask what is the (historical) reason we adopted the $\sigma$-algebra rhetoric instead of $\sigma$-rings (like used in Halmos)? To my knowledge almost all modern measure theory or real analysis ...
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247 views

Reference request : Grothendieck's topological space valued integral

As I am learning the different kind of Banach space valued integrals (Pettis, Bochner), I know that Grothendieck made a "mémoire" in his youth about this topic, but I don't know if it is available ...
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505 views

Who first introduced the functional definition of symmetry?

Who first introduced the definition of symmetry using functions explicitly? (That is, for instance, a symmetry of a subset $X$ of the plane is a function $F$ from the plane to the plane that preserves ...
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1answer
164 views

Longevity of “random” conjectures

The "random" sample is obviously very, very skewed: If you would be asked to name a random conjecture, it probably will be a "famous" conjecture, and the longer a conjecture stands, the more famous it ...
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1answer
585 views

What is a totient?

In addition to the Euler totient function, there are a great many generalizations and related functions which go by the "totient", usually with some name: Jordan, Lehmer*, Schemmel, Nagell, Alder, ...
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4answers
893 views

Sierpinski's construction of a non-measurable set

In the early 20th century there was a lot of fuss over the axiom of choice implying that there are Lebesgue non-measurable sets of reals. In his book about The Axiom of Choice, Gregory Moore points to ...
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2answers
332 views

A bit of history of Verdier duality

I was wondering who originated the presentation of Verdier duality as an equivalence between categories of sheaves and cosheaves ? I learnt it reading Jacob Lurie's Higher Algebra and Justin Curry's ...
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1answer
461 views

Modular forms and “too many symmetries”

How do we interpret Barry Mazur's quote of Modular forms are functions on the complex plane that are inordinately symmetric. They satisfy so many internal symmetries that their mere existence ...
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1answer
328 views

Cap product à la Poincaré

Recently, it became apparent to me that I was not the only one who always first thought in terms of cap product before actually computing a cup product. There is no denying this is evil, but I found ...
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703 views

Producing finite objects by forcing!

It is a trivial fact that forcing can not produce finite sets of ground model objects. However there are situations, where we can use forcing to prove the existence of finite objects with some ...
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45 views

Reason for the Choice of Line Parameters in the Radon Transform

Why are the lines, over which the integrals in a Radon Transform are calculated, apparently always parameterized as $L(t,\phi,\alpha) := ...
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133 views

Link between abelian groups and endomorphisms

When teaching Algebra, I try to share my fascination about two apparently unrelated questions, which turn out to involve the same theory: classifying the finitely generated abelian groups, ...
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1answer
256 views

Euler's Triangular Number closure properties

Burton, in "Elementary Number Theory", states that the following problems are due to Euler 1775: If $n$ is a triangular number, then so are $9n+1$, $25n+3$ and $49n + 6$. R. F. Jordan in the J. ...
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1answer
729 views

Von Neumann's consistency proof

In the paper Zur Hilbertschen Beweistheorie, John Von Neumann has proposed a consistency proof for a fragment of first-order arithmetic (the fragment without induction and with the successor axioms ...
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261 views

When was Bounded Zermelo set theory first formulated?

Bounded Zermelo set theory, and many variants named for MacLane in some way, are used in equiconsistency proofs for Simple Theory of Types plus infinity, and for the Elementary Theory of the Category ...
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1answer
338 views

Oldest photographed mathematician [closed]

Who is the most ancient mathematician of which we have a photograph? (or, in the same vein, what is the oldest photograph of a mathematician) A quick search on MacTutor History of Mathematics gives ...
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202 views

When did “Betti cohomology” come to be used the way it is today? (and how is it used)

This is sort of a mixture of a math and history question. First the math part: thinking about it, I do not actually know how to properly use the term "Betti cohomology". I know I should, but I ...
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3answers
361 views

Riemann's formula for the metric in a normal neighborhood

I would love to understand the famous formula $g_{ij}(x) = \delta_{ij} + \frac{1}{3}R_{kijl}x^kx^l +O(||x||^3)$, which is valid in Riemannian normal coordinates and possibly more general situations. ...
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2answers
473 views

Who first noticed that Stirling numbers of the second kind count partitions?

When the Stirling numbers of the second kind were introduced by James Stirling in 1730, it was not combinatorially; rather, the numbers ${n \brace k}$ were defined via the polynomial identity $$ x^n = ...
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1answer
269 views

Disruptive innovations in mathematical notations [closed]

I am wondering whether there are examples of mathematical notations that, once introduced, have drastically changed or simplified the way to address a problem or a mathematical area, or that have ...
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3answers
374 views

How did the summation operation come into use? [closed]

So we've been using summations at least since the dawn of calculus. I'm wondering how the process of summing a function came to be known? Are there events that led to the invention of the summation ...
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2answers
470 views

Who first defined quantum integers?

Who first gave the defintion of quantum integers $$ [m]_q = \frac{1 - q^m}{1 - q} $$ and addition as $$ [m]_q \oplus_q [n]_q = [m]_q + q^m [n]_q $$ and multiplication as $$ [m]_q \otimes_q [n]_q = ...
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1answer
2k views

What did Rolle prove when he proved Rolle's theorem?

Rolle published what we today call Rolle's theorem about 150 years before the arithmetization of the reals. Unfortunately this proof seems to have been buried in a long book [Rolle 1691] that I can't ...
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319 views

Who first used/gave a coordinate representation of a graph?

In his proof of the Shannon capacity of a graph, Lovasz utilizes a coordinate representation of the pentagon (namely an orthonormal representation). Who first utilized a coordinate representation for ...
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21answers
10k views

Has philosophy ever clarified mathematics?

I've recently been reading some standard textbooks on the philosophy of mathematics, and I've become quite frustrated that (surely due to my own limitations) I don't seem to be gleaning any ...
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8answers
6k views

Why have mathematicians used differential equations to model nature instead of difference equations

Ever since Newton invented Calculus, mathematicians have been using differential equations to model natural phenomena. And they have been very successful in doing such. Yet, they could have been just ...
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3answers
288 views

A. Markov's papers?

A. Markov published several papers on his chains, starting in 1906, so it is written, in the journal: (1) Извѣстія Физико-математического общества при Казанском университете I am surprised by the ...
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Who first showed that $SL(n,O_K)$ is a lattice for a number ring $O_K$?

Let $O_K$ be the ring of integers in an algebraic number field $K$. Assume that $K$ has $r$ real embeddings and $s$ pairs of complex conjugate complex embeddings. There is then an injective ...
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3answers
204 views

What do you call a fixed point theorem for a mapping from a subset of a space to the whole space?

There are a number of fixed point theorems in which we have a map from some subset of a (metric, topological, ...) space to the whole space. (Usually, there is some condition regarding the behavior ...
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1answer
2k views

Did Leibniz really get the Leibniz rule wrong?

A couple of posts ([1], [2]) on matheducators.SE seem to suggest that Leibniz originally got the wrong form for the product rule, perhaps thinking that $(fg)'=f'g'$. Is there any actual historical ...
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1answer
766 views

Did differential geometry undergo a notation change?

As a graduate student, I found the old books of differential geometry used a different set of notation from modern textbooks. For example, Chern and Milnor defined the curvature 2-form by ...
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91 views

Continuous extension of Riemann maps and the Caratheodory-Torhorst Theorem

If $G\subsetneq\mathbb{C}$ is a simply-connected plane domain, then by the Riemann mapping theorem there is a conformal isomorphism $\newcommand{\D}{\mathbb{D}}\varphi:\D\to G$, where $\D$ is the unit ...
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1answer
2k views

Hilbert's Hotel

Hilbert's Hotel is a famous story about infinity attributed to David Hilbert (1862-1943). Is it documented that Hilbert's Hotel is in fact due to Hilbert, and if yes, where?
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1answer
265 views

History of powers beyond squares and cubes

The ancient Babylonians understood squares:       Plimpton 322 The ancient Athenians understood cubes, if we can take doubling the cube, i.e., the Delian problem, as evidence. My ...
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2answers
380 views

How did height in algeb. number theory/elliptic curves started?

Maybe this is obvious but it isn't to me yet. What is the history of heights used in say points of the project plane over a number field or of elliptic curve over a number field? I would guess people ...
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0answers
154 views

Motivating mathematics(particularly algebraic number theory) through historical problems [closed]

Most mathematical textbooks start a subject by going backwards, historically. They will define the terms that were invented to solve a problem in their polished form and then use these definitions and ...
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2answers
510 views

History of the analytic class number formula

The (general) analytic class number formula gives a value for the residue of the Dedekind zeta function of a number field at the point $s=1$ (or, as I prefer, the leading Taylor coefficient at $s=0$). ...
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1answer
354 views

Different approaches to forcing

There are many different approaches to the forcing method, and I am looking for all known such approaches. So my question is: Question 1. Which different approaches to set theoretic forcing are ...
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232 views

Silver's unpublished work on reverse Easton iteration

Silver was the first person who used the method of reverse Easton iterations in connection with large cardinals, and used it to force the failure of $GCH$ at some measurable cardinal. At most papers ...
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926 views

construction of nonmeasurable sets

I have a history question for which I've had trouble finding a good answer. The common story about nonmeasurable sets is that Vitali showed that one existed using the Axiom of Choice, and Lebesgue et ...