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4
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1answer
374 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
252 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 ...
17
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10answers
3k views

New proofs to major theorems leading to new insights and results?

I am wondering, historically, when has a new proof of an old theorem been particularly fruitful. A few examples I have in mind (all number theoretic) are: First example is classical... which is ...
4
votes
1answer
264 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 ...
27
votes
1answer
614 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 ...
52
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30answers
32k views

Why do we teach calculus students the derivative as a limit?

I'm not teaching calculus right now, but I talk to someone who does, and the question that came up is why emphasize the $h \to 0$ definition of a derivative to calculus students? Something a teacher ...
1
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0answers
37 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) := ...
126
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36answers
32k views

Widely accepted mathematical results that were later shown wrong?

I wonder if there are any examples in the history of mathematics of a mathematical proof that was initially reviewed and widely accepted as valid, only to be disproved a significant amount of time ...
5
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0answers
128 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
232 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. ...
87
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97answers
55k views

Famous mathematical quotes [closed]

Some famous quotes often give interesting insights into the vision of mathematics that certain mathematicians have. Which ones are you particularly fond of? Standard community wiki rules apply: one ...
14
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19answers
17k views

Good books on problem solving / math olympiad

Hello, I would want all book tips you could think of regarding Problem solving and books in general, in elementary mathematics, with a certain flavour for "advanced problem solving". An example would ...
7
votes
1answer
961 views

Did Apollonius invent co-ordinate geometry?

When I read descriptions of Apollonius' treatise on conics, some of them say that he invented co-ordinate geometry, some say that he kind of did and others are silent on the matter. Or is it the case ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Categories of Geometry [closed]

I learn that Geometry has several categories/subfields from Wikipedia. But I am still not clear about the standards according to which they are classified. It seems Euclidean Geometry, Affine ...
17
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4answers
5k views

How did Bernoulli prove L'Hôpital's rule?

To prove L'Hôpital's rule, the standard method is to use use Cauchy's Mean Value Theorem (and note that once you have Cauchy's MVT, you don't need an $\epsilon$-$\delta$ definition of limit to ...
3
votes
3answers
200 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
706 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 ...
12
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3answers
772 views

What theorem of Liouville's is Gian-Carlo Rota referring to here?

I am very curious about this remark in Lesson Four of Rota's talk, Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before I Started Teaching Differential Equations: "For second order linear differential ...
9
votes
2answers
259 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 ...
25
votes
1answer
918 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
321 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 ...
43
votes
5answers
7k views

Is the boundary $\partial S$ analogous to a derivative?

Without prethought, I mentioned in class once that the reason the symbol $\partial$ is used to represent the boundary operator in topology is that its behavior is akin to a derivative. But after ...
35
votes
31answers
6k views

Trichotomies in mathematics

Added. Thanks to all who participated! Let me humbly apologize to those who were annoyed (quite understandably) by this thread, deeming it nothing more than an exercise in futility. If you thought the ...
5
votes
0answers
193 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Genealogy of the Lagrange inversion theorem

A wonderful piece of classic mathematics, well-known especially to combinatorialists and to complex analysis people, and that, in my opinion, deserves more popularity even in elementary mathematics, ...
9
votes
1answer
283 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. ...
36
votes
8answers
3k views

What recent programmes to alter highly-entrenched mathematical terminology have succeeded, and under what conditions do they tend to succeed or fail?

I think we all occasionally come across terminology that we'd like to see supplanted (e.g. by something more systematic). What I'd like to know is, under what circumstances is it reasonable to believe ...
25
votes
1answer
827 views

Institutional response to “Esquisse d'un programme”

It is well-known that Grothendieck's "esquisse d'un programme" was submitted in 1984 as part as the author's application for a permanent position of "Directeur de Recherche" at the C.N.R.S. (the main ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

When and why did the postdoctoral position originate? [closed]

Does anyone know when and how the system of post-doctoral studies after a Ph. D. originated? I've heard in a few places that there was a time when there was no such thing as a post-doc, and people ...
12
votes
2answers
443 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 = ...
2
votes
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
367 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 ...
18
votes
21answers
3k views

History Question: AUTObiography of Mathematicians

According to Wikipedia, an autobiography is an account of the life of a person, written by that person sometimes with a collaborator. An autobiography offers the author the ability to recreate ...
5
votes
2answers
450 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 = ...
5
votes
3answers
280 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
908 views

History of the Sampling Theorem

In January, 1949, Shannon publishes the paper Communication in the Presence of Noise, Proc. IRE, Vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 10-21, available here, which establishes the Information Theory. In this paper, the ...
4
votes
1answer
486 views

What was Lambert's solution to $x^m+x=q$?

I've been thinking about Lambert's Trinomial Equation quite a bit, and I want to see his solution. The only solution I could find was in Euler's form, and I still don't quite understand how he got ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

“Oldest” bug in computer algebra system?

The goal of this question is to find an error in a computation by a computer algebra system where the 'correct' answer (complete with correct reasoning to justify the answer) can be found in the ...
30
votes
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
314 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
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
288 views

Characterizing triangles unembeddedly

The mathedu mailing list has a recent longish thread at http://www.nabble.com/Why-do-we-do-proofs--to25809591.html which discussed among other things whether we should teach triangles as labeled or ...
9
votes
1answer
851 views

Hausdorff and Naive Set Theory

Erhard Scholz, in his article "Felix Hausdorff and the Hausdorff edition" writes the following: "Hausdorff considered the contemporary attempts to secure axiomatic foundations for set theory as ...
61
votes
18answers
8k views

Can a mathematical definition be wrong?

This question originates from a bit of history. In the first paper on quantum Turing machines, the authors left a key uniformity condition out of their definition. Three mathematicians subsequently ...
17
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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 ...
11
votes
0answers
201 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
424 views

Historical question re: ellipses obtained by certain geometrical constructions

I am a faculty member in the Forensic Science Program at PennState (UP). I am trying to obtain information of a historical nature concerning two closely related topics. I seek historical references ...
13
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6answers
2k views

Grothendieck on Topological Vector Spaces

In a short biography article on Alexander Grothendieck, it is mentioned that after Grothendieck submitted his first thesis on Topological Vector Spaces (TVS), apparently, he told Bernard Malgrange ...
54
votes
61answers
8k views

Old books still used

It's a commonplace to state that while other sciences (like biology) may always need the newest books, we mathematicians also use to use older books. While this is a qualitative remark, I would like ...
34
votes
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 ...