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

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12
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908 views

When was the continuum hypothesis born?

The question Solutions to the Continuum Hypothesis states that the continuum hypothesis was posed by Cantor in 1890. In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_hypothesis the year 1878 is quoted ...
11
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2answers
889 views

What might extraterrestrial mathematics look like? [closed]

In an extensive anthropological joint research project concerning the necessities in the development of life and civilisation my group is concerned with mathematics. This forum seems to be extremely ...
14
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3answers
1k views

Who introduced the terms “equivalence relation” and “equivalence class”?

Consider that the question does not concern the origin of the ideas of equivalence relation and equivalence class. It exactly concerns the origin of the terms "equivalence relation" and "equivalence ...
12
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2answers
728 views

An Euler-proof that cannot be repaired?

Ed Sandifer writes on Euler's wonderful work on prime numbers: The sum of the series of reciprocals of prime numbers $\frac{1}{2}+\frac{1}{3}+\frac{1}{5}+...$ is infinitely large, and is infinitely ...
14
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5answers
647 views

Historical use of figures in geometry

I was surprised to learn from John Stillwell's comment in answer to the question, "Can the unsolvability of quintics be seen in the geometry of the icosahedron?", that There is not a single ...
11
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2answers
522 views

Why did Voiculescu develop free probability?

I was recently asked why Voiculescu developed free probability theory. I am not very expert in this and the only answer I was able to provide is the classical one: he was challenging the isomorphism ...
1
vote
1answer
148 views

Understanding the rationale behind “batch means” estimation

Hello all, I am implementing an MCMC algorithm for my work, and I've come upon something in the literature which I just can't understand. Specifically, I am attempting to estimate the amount of ...
5
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1answer
157 views

How did Hankel determinants get the name Hankel-Hadamard?

My question concerns the name for determinants of Hankel-matrices $H = (s_{i+j})_{i,j = 0}^n$. In the classical textbook of Shohat and Tamarkin (1943) "The Problem of Moments", these determinants are ...
15
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2answers
953 views

Where did Sophus Lie write the group commutator for two one parameter groups

If $X,Y$ are vector fields and $\def\Fl{\operatorname{Fl}}\Fl^X_t$ and $\Fl^Y_t$ their local flows, let $[\Fl^X_t,\Fl^Y_t]:= \Fl^Y_{-t}\Fl^X_{-t}\Fl^Y_t\Fl^X_t$ denote the group commutator of the ...
25
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1answer
909 views

Does a proof of Selberg's 3.2 inequality exist?

A well-known inequality of Montgomery and Vaughan (generalizing a result of Hilbert) states that $$ \left |\sum_{r \neq s} \frac{w_{r} \overline{w_{s}} }{\lambda_r - \lambda_s} \right| \leq \pi ...
7
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3answers
316 views

Meaning of historical fluxion notation

I've noticed that in 18th century English books on calculus writers would say that 'the fluxion of $ax$ is $a\dot{x}$' and 'the fluxion of $x^n$ is $n x^{n-1} \dot{x}$'. What does this extra ...
36
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4answers
3k views

What is the source of this famous Grothendieck quote?

I've seen the following quote many times on the internet, and have used it myself. It is usually attributed to Grothendieck. It is better to have a good category with bad objects than a bad category ...
22
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2answers
1k views

The Erdős-Turán conjecture or the Erdős' conjecture?

This has been bothering me for a while, and I can't seem to find any definitive answer. The following conjecture is well known in additive combinatorics: Conjecture: If $A\subset \mathbb{N}$ ...
6
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0answers
210 views

History of the characterization of commutative Artin rings

When it comes to the world of "classical" (pre-homological) Noetherian commutative algebra, I tend to think of most of the results (Krull's intersection theorem, the principal ideal theorem, etc.) as ...
4
votes
1answer
225 views

Historical precursor for Peano's axioms of a linear space?

Peano is typically credited with giving the first abstract definition of a vector space (1888): http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Abstract_linear_spaces.html Apparently, Peano credits ...
7
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7answers
987 views

famous papers/results by non professional mathematicians [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What recent discoveries have amateur mathematicians made? Dear overflowers Out of curiosity: do you know any famous papers and/or results by non professional ...
11
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0answers
402 views

Unpublished Lecture Notes

Hi, Overflowers There was a time (not so long ago) where lecture notes were not published, not commonly at least, and their reproduction was expensive. In my case, that was precisely the time when ...
19
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1answer
389 views

Biholomophic non-Algebraically Isomorphic Varieties

Recently, when writing a review for MathSciNet, the following question arose: Is it true that two smooth complex varieties that are biholomorphic are algebraically isomorphic? The converse is true ...
12
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0answers
529 views

Why did Bourbaki not use universal algebra?

I have seen a discussion about Bourbaki’s usage of categories before. So let me ask a different question: why did he not use universal algebra? Well, universal algebra is not much older than category ...
19
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5answers
3k views

Why did Bourbaki ignore the theory of categories? [closed]

QUESTION They had plenty of time to adopt the theory of categories. They had Eilenberg, then Cartan, then Grothendieck. Did they feel that they have established their approach already, that it's too ...
5
votes
1answer
382 views

Generalization of the Lefschetz fixed point theorem

I have encountered a certain generalization of the Lefschetz fixed point theorem as folklore, and I am hoping that someone out there knows its provenance or can otherwise refer me to a source where it ...
8
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0answers
427 views

Reference/quote request: “All of combinatorics is the representation theory of $S_n$”

I think I remember reading somewhere a glib (or is it deep?) quote, perhaps due to Rota?, which was something like "All of combinatorics is essentially [or can be reduced to?] the representation ...
6
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1answer
224 views

Did Smith correctly state the mass formula?

Did Smith correctly state the mass formula? H.J.S. "normal form" Smith was the first, in 1867, to state the mass formula for integral quadratic forms in a genus of 4 or more variables. This was ...
2
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0answers
134 views

Reference for original paper (but translated to English) of Matiyasevich's proof of Fibonacci relation being Diophantine?

Hello. I am a maths undergraduate. I am doing a project about history of mathematics. I am looking for the original solution to Hilbert's 10th problem, or at least the theorems that is accessible to ...
11
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3answers
743 views

The role of the Automatic Groups in the history of Geometric Group Theory

What is the role of the theory of Automatic Groups in the history of Geometric Group Theory? Motivation: When I read through the "Word Processing in Groups" I was amazed by the supreme beauty and ...
9
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0answers
433 views

What is Quillen's contribution to index theorem?

In the book "Heat Kernels and Dirac Operators" by Berline, Getzler and Vergne it is said that "Our book is based on a simple principle, which we learned from D. Quillen: Dirac operators are a ...
60
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24answers
6k views

Modern Mathematical Achievements Accessible to Undergraduates

While there is tremendous progress happening in mathematics, most of it is just accessible to specialists. In many cases, the proofs of great results are both long and use difficult techniques. Even ...
2
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0answers
333 views

What is the oldest known evidence of application of mathematics?

According to Wikipedia the Lebombo bone (age 35 KY) and the Ishango bone (age at least 20 KY) presently are believed to show the first evidence for application of mathematics by humans. (Possibly ...
12
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1answer
408 views

Discrete Morse theory and chess

There are many mathematical objects that are similar to groups and Cayley graphs of groups but lack homogeneity in some sense. Graphs of webpages with edges corresponding to links are one example. ...
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2answers
1k views

Hahn's Embedding Theorem and the oldest open question in set theory

Hans Hahn is often credited with creating the modern theory of ordered algebraic systems with the publication of his paper Über die nichtarchimedischen Grössensysteme (Sitzungsberichte der ...
10
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4answers
1k views

History of the high-dimensional volume paradox

Inscribe an $n$-ball in an $n$-dimensional hypercube of side equal to 1, and let $n \rightarrow \infty$. The hypercube will always have volume 1, while it is a fun folk fact (FFF) that the volume of ...
11
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1answer
217 views

What is flexible about flexible algebras?

A possibly non-associative algebra is flexible if it satisfies the identity $$(xy)x=x(yx).$$ This is clearly a very weak form of associativity —and obviously an associative algebra is flexible— but it ...
7
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1answer
142 views

Who first observed that Conjugate Gradient for Symmetric Positive Definite linear systems is a Krylov method?

Conjugate gradient was originally presented in the 50's before the modern understanding of Krylov subspaces (and the resulting iterative methods) was fully realized. As such, the method was derived ...
28
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13answers
2k views

Great mathematics books by pre-modern authors

Last summer, I read Euclid's Elements, and it was an eye-opening experience; I had assumed that three thousand years' difference would make the notation incomprehensible and the reasoning alien, but ...
5
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1answer
676 views

Why do mathematicians prefer one definition over the other when they both define the same concept?

Here is a basic, though very important, example: Hilbert takes as primary the notion of “congruence” (or “equal”) between segments. His first axiom of congruence “requires the possibility of ...
1
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1answer
312 views

Newton integration without integration

Consider a function f continuous on a compact interval. Approximate it by a sequence of polygonal functions (you can). Then consider a sequence of primitives of the polygonal functions (you can). ...
6
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1answer
223 views

Does the vanishing of the Poisson bracket on $S(\mathfrak{g})^{\mathfrak{g}}$ inspire the disover of Duflo's isomorphism theorem?

For any finite dimensional Lie algebra $\mathfrak{g}$, we know that the universal enveloping algebra $U(\mathfrak{g})$ is a deformation of the symmetric algebra $S(\mathfrak{g})$. In fact let's define ...
4
votes
2answers
238 views

Was Desargues more an Euclid or an Eudoxos?

In the course of preparing lessons on projective geometry I want to give an account on the historical development. It is easy to obtain an overview of the history starting with G. Desargues. And with ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Euler's mathematics in terms of modern theories?

Some aspects of Euler's work were formalized in terms of modern infinitesimal theories by Laugwitz, McKinzie, Tuckey, and others. Referring to the latter, G. Ferraro claims that "one can see in ...
3
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0answers
121 views

Citation for subset complement result

Let $S=\lbrace s_1,\ldots,s_n \rbrace \subset \lbrace1,\ldots,2n\rbrace$. Consider two operations on $S$: the complement $C(S)=\lbrace 1,\ldots,2n \rbrace \setminus S$ and a reflection* ...
0
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1answer
378 views

Has the controversy about *fiducial distribution* been settled? [closed]

Has the controversy about the correct meaning of Fisher's notion fiducial distribution meanwhile been settled? And are there newer applications than quoted in the following literature? G.P. Klimov: ...
3
votes
3answers
700 views

Lapses of “the early proponents of the doctrine of limits”

I have a question that I have been wondering about for a long time without finding any answer. Concerning the period around 1900, Robinson commented in his 1966 book that "there is in the writings of ...
8
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3answers
839 views

who invented projective space $\mathbb{P}^n$?

Who invented projective space $\mathbb{P}^n$ as an extension of the usual affine space $\mathbb{A}^n$? Who was the first person to consider projective closure of plane affine algebraic curves (curves ...
18
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9answers
3k views

Was the early calculus inconsistent?

This question does NOT concern the RIGOR, or lack thereof, of the early calculus. Rather the question is of its CONSISTENCY. George Berkeley wrote in 1734 with reference to the early calculus that ...
27
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3answers
2k views

What is the difference between an automorphic form and a modular form?

This is more of a question about terminology than about math. The term "automorphic form" is clearly a generalization of the term "modular form." What is not clear is exactly which generalization it ...
3
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0answers
203 views

Where was the arithmetic zeta function of a scheme first defined?

Let $X$ be an arithmetic scheme, that is, a scheme of finite type over the integers. We denote the set of closed points of $X$ by $|X|$. For every $x\in|X|$, write $N(x)$ for the cardinality of the ...
4
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0answers
212 views

origin of the notion of “network” in graph theory

In current graph theory, a "network" is a precisely defined object: It is a directed graph associated with a function, the "capacity", which is defined on the edge set and has certain specific ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Similarities between Post's Problem and Cohen's Forcing

Remark: I have since learned that G.H. Moore addresses this question in the third reference listed at the end of this post, beginning on p. 157 in which he cites a letter from Kreisel to Gödel dated ...
2
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2answers
177 views

local subrings of matrix ring

When is the subring (containing 1) of a matrix ring $M_n(k)$ over a field $k$ is local? I would be grateful for every reference concerning this matter, Thank you!
19
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4answers
973 views

The role of ANR in modern topology

Absolute neighborhood retracts (ANRs) are topological spaces $X$ which, whenever $i\colon X\to Y$ is an embedding into a normal topological space $Y$, there exists a neighborhood $U$ of $i(X)$ in $Y$ ...