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

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8
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3answers
597 views

“Epicycles” (Ptolemy style) in math theory?

By analogy: The epicycles of Ptolemy explained the known facts in the sun system and in this sense were not "wrong". But they distracted from a better insight. From another viewpoint, everything fell ...
-5
votes
0answers
169 views

Are numbers fundamental mathematical entities? [on hold]

This question came to my mind after seeing Vi Hart's video on YouTube about the "number" Wau and the answer I gave there to the question "what is the number Wau?". As far as I know, numbers have ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

Are there any Algebraic Geometry Theorems that were proved using Combinatorics?

I'm collaborating with some algebraic geometers in a paper, and when writing the introduction I mentioned the interaction of Combinatorics and Algebraic Geometry, and gave some examples like the ...
19
votes
1answer
869 views

Homeomorphism historically: When did it reach its modern formulation?

Q. When did the notion of homeomorphism reach its modern formulation as a bicontinuous bijection, i.e., a continuous bijection between topological spaces whose inverse is also continuous? ...
35
votes
1answer
1k views

Did Bourbaki write a text on algebraic geometry?

Certainly Bourbaki never wrote an introduction to algebraic geometry: we would have heard about it, right?
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Famous examples of PhD advisors younger than their student [closed]

What are the most famous examples of PhD advisors in mathematics, younger than their student? (if possible put the date of birth and/or the difference in age).
4
votes
1answer
552 views

Cricket and the Hardy-Littlewod maximal function

I'v read somewhere that one motivation for Hardy to define his maximal function is the game of cricket. But I can't see how they are related. Could anyone provide some more information on their ...
1
vote
1answer
416 views

The most cited paper in Mathematics [closed]

I am wondering about the most cited papers/books in Mathematics. I always had the impression that the number of citations in the mathematical community is several orders of magnitude below the number ...
11
votes
4answers
675 views

Brandt's definition of groupoids (1926)

The definition of a category is usually attributed to Mac Lane and Eilenberg (1945). What seems to be less known is that the german mathematician Heinrich Brandt has developed the notion of a groupoid ...
14
votes
2answers
491 views

Scott-Solovay unpublished paper on ``Boolean valued models of set theory''

I have read some papers from 1970$^{th}$, and in some of them, the paper of Scott and Solovay on ``Boolean valued models of set theory'' is given as a main reference, with many references to the ...
9
votes
1answer
322 views

History of Tarski's problems on free groups

As is known, Tarski posed his questions about first-order theories of non-abelian free groups around 1945. However, the questions were not published in his papers or books. What is the original ...
22
votes
4answers
844 views

Communal problem books

A certain class of books is defined as follows: (1) the book was kept for years in a cafe or mathematics library; (2) the primary contents are research problems and comments, handwritten by resident ...
8
votes
0answers
159 views

History of preservation theorems in forcing theory

For my honours thesis, I am studying a general preservation theorem using a framework provided by Shelah. I am mainly concerned about revised countable support iteration of $\dot{S}$-semiproper ...
0
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0answers
82 views

Filmed lectures by Hassler Whitney

Are there any filmed lectures by outstanding American mathematician Hassler Whitney, besides the two Einstein Chair lectures below? Old lectures, from the 1940s onwards, would be particularly ...
3
votes
0answers
216 views

Galois correspondence subgroups/subsystems

In this paper (1998) by M. Izumi, R. Longo, S. Popa, there is the following result (page 49) on compact groups: By applying this result to finite groups, we get a Galois correspondence ...
3
votes
1answer
810 views

Who coined “mob” and “clan” and why these words?

A mob is a word used for a topological semigroup which is a Hausdorff space. A clan is a compact connected mob with a two-sided identity element. Who used these words with these meanings first and ...
5
votes
1answer
158 views

Did Lucas discover Lucas circles?

MathWord's article on Lucas circles traces the name to a little-known 1973 publication. These interesting circles have found their way into several 21st century publications, including the online ...
2
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0answers
101 views

Examples of Geometric Constructions in Higher Dimensions

The classical problem of geometric construction seems to be restricted to planar Euclidean Geometry with straight edge and compass as the only admissible "construction-tools". I would like to ...
3
votes
1answer
217 views

Was $\Sigma x$ used as quantifier?

Kurt Gödel in 1931 used $x\Pi a$ where we in contemporary notation would use $(\forall x) A$ or $(x)A$, and $Ex a$ where we would use $(\exists x) A$. I believe that I remember that $\Sigma xA$ has ...
5
votes
2answers
201 views

History of the orientation of Cartesian coordinates in drawing

Is there any actual historical example in which a Cartesian plane with all four quadrants has been used, but with all axes marked with positive numbers? [Please see Sawyer's paper below for a ...
0
votes
1answer
248 views

History of Poincare conjecture in higher dimension [closed]

As far as I know, when Poincare formulated his well known conjecture, the original statement was the follwoing: if a closed manifold has the same homology groups as the sphere it is homoeomorphic to ...
11
votes
2answers
847 views

Banach-Zarecki theorem - who was Zarecki?

I'm writing a paper for real analysis seminar, a paper about Banach-Zarecki theorem and I need some information about the authors. Stefan Banach - there is no problem to find information about him. ...
1
vote
0answers
160 views

Filmed lectures by Jürgen Moser

Are there any filmed lectures by outstanding German mathematician Jürgen Moser (July 4, 1928 – December 17, 1999)?
51
votes
2answers
1k views

History of $\frac d{dt}\tan^{-1}(t)=\frac 1{1+t^2}$

Let $\theta = \tan^{-1}(t)$. Nowadays it is taught: 1º that $$ \frac{d\theta}{dt} = \frac 1{dt\,/\,d\theta} = \frac 1{1+t^2}, \tag1 $$ 2º that, via the fundamental theorem of calculus, this is ...
11
votes
0answers
236 views

Why is a matrix pencil called a pencil?

I'm trying to understand the historical context behind the word pencil in matrix pencils, or pencil of curves so on. I am aware that even Gantmacher 1959 has this terminology however I don't know ...
12
votes
0answers
247 views

Grothendieck on polyhedra over finite fields

In Grothendieck's Sketch of a Programme he spends a few pages discussing polyhedra over arbitrary rings and concludes with some intriguing remarks on specializing polyhedra over their "most singular ...
2
votes
1answer
138 views

Two questions on substitutability

(1) The condition that a term $a$ be substitutable for another term in an expression can be given a recursive definition. Who first developed such a definition? (2) One sometimes see the phrase "$a$ ...
1
vote
0answers
352 views

Why did Grothendieck say stop publishing his works? [closed]

Why did Grothendieck say stop publishing his works? https://sbseminar.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/grothendiecks-letter/ Any edition or dissemination of such texts which have been made in the past ...
0
votes
0answers
52 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
89 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
198 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
238 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
419 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
437 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 ...
49
votes
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
421 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
177 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
254 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
256 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
533 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
593 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, ...
12
votes
4answers
929 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
338 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
487 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
349 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 ...
29
votes
1answer
742 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
48 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) := ...
5
votes
0answers
138 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, ...
7
votes
1answer
270 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. ...