Biographies, philosophy of mathematics, mathematics education, recreational mathematics, communication of mathematics

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1answer
235 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
153 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
549 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
784 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
308 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
430 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
301 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 ...
28
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1answer
661 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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42 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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130 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
237 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
710 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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2answers
260 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
329 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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197 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 ...
9
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1answer
291 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
452 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
263 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
369 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
452 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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2answers
317 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 ...
57
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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
283 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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0answers
202 views

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
201 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
736 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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0answers
76 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 ...
34
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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
258 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
376 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
149 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
496 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
349 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 ...
6
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0answers
228 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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2answers
871 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 ...
3
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1answer
360 views

Who defined and who coined “module”?

The title of my Q. says it all: QUESTION:   Who defined and who coined: module? Would it be Emmy Noether? EDIT   In view of @anon's and KConrad's answers, and as it could have been ...
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2answers
396 views

Who originated the standard symbols for Lie groups GL, SL, SU, etc.?

Who was first to use symbols GL, SL, O, SO, U, SU, Sp and their projective versions, and how did this notation become standard? The notation appears in fairly modern form in Weyl's "The Classical ...
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0answers
107 views

First Description of how to Remove Radicals from Equations

Who first described the technique of removing radicals as indicated in the answers to questions Tools for Removing Radicals from Equations and Rewrite sum of radicals equation as polynomial equation ? ...
4
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1answer
449 views

The ten martini problem - reason for name

Why is the problem called the ten martini problem? Sounds like an interesting name for people who drink.
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1answer
181 views

Finiteness as a motivation for compactness

Another history question, and I am not sure if I will get any answers. (If anyone knows of a good history of math list to use for this question I would be happy for any tips. The one I used to post to ...
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3answers
1k views

How were formulas / images added to books in post-printing-press / pre-digital times?

I have seen that Euclid's Elements was written 300 BC and first set in type in 1482. Are there scans of that old versions available? How were formulas / images added to the books created with ...
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2answers
708 views

Salvaging Leibnizian formalism?

Can one justify Leibniz's formalism in a suitable algebraic or topological context? We have published some papers recently where we argue that Leibniz's formalism for the calculus wasn't ...
30
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1answer
3k views

A topologist is not a mathematician - a small question

Years ago I read about a topologist who was to enter the states as an immigrant and was asked a question about his profession. He indicated he was a topologist, but as this was not included on the ...
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0answers
110 views

History of limit point compact -/-> compact example

A standard example in elementary topology (e.g. Munkres) of a space which is limit-point compact (every infinite subset of the space has a limit point) but not compact is the minimal uncountable ...
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1answer
128 views

Origins of the Jacobi matrix

I have several questions concerning history of Jacobi matrices. Does anybody know why the Jacobi matrix (=symmetric tridiagonal matrix) is named by Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi? What was his contribution ...
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99 views

Default Orientation of Vectors [closed]

When I started studying math in 1982 in Germany, there seemed to have been a change in the choice of the default orientation of vectors; while it was row-vectors till then, it changed to ...
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2answers
618 views

Maximal ideals are prime (history answer please!)

Please can someone tell me the history of the simple argument that any maximal ideal of a commutative ring or distributive lattice is prime? (It is understood that we have found the maximal one using ...