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

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64
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24answers
7k 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 ...
11
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6answers
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 ...
29
votes
4answers
3k views

What, precisely, does Klein's Erlangen Program state?

People write that the Erlangen Program is a "program" (like the "Langlands Program"), i.e. a series of related conjectures, which in this case were all solved. There are various intuitive accounts, ...
25
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7answers
1k views

Concise model of modern fiat money and its non-conservation

A confession: I have never really understood the basic model of fiat money and central banking, by which a central bank controls the money supply. By the standards of someone trained in mathematics, ...
22
votes
4answers
842 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Did Grothendieck write about modular forms?

This question might be astoundingly naive, because my understanding of modular forms is so meek. It occurred to me that the reason I was never able to penetrate into the field of modular forms, ...
83
votes
20answers
11k views

Mathematical habits of thought and action which would be of use to non-mathematicians

Once again I come to MO for help with something I'm writing for the public. Which habits of mathematicians -- aspects of the way we approach problems, the way we argue, the way we function as a ...
26
votes
6answers
1k views

Means of Promoting Mathematics in Young Countries!

We all know mathematics is life, this question is for Mankind. It's mathoverflow here when some parts of the world we have mathunderflow! I think we can do something through ideas. A similar ...
19
votes
1answer
858 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? ...
1
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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).
78
votes
6answers
8k views

what mistakes did the Italian algebraic geometers actually make?

It's "well-known" that the 19th century Italian school of algebraic geometry made great progress but also started to flounder due to lack of rigour, possibly in part due to the fact that foundations ...
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?
4
votes
1answer
541 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
420 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 ...
37
votes
32answers
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 ...
123
votes
132answers
28k views

Fundamental Examples

It is not unusual that a single example or a very few shape an entire mathematical discipline. Can you give examples for such examples? (One example, or few, per post, please) I'd love to learn about ...
11
votes
4answers
671 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
415 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
490 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 ...
54
votes
13answers
10k views

Logic in mathematics and philosophy

What are the relations between logic as an area of (modern) philosophy and mathematical logic. The world "modern" refers to 20th century and later, and I am curious mainly about the second half of ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

History of Gauss' Law

Does any one know actual references for the discovery of Gauss' Law (a corollary of the Divergence Theorem)? The entry in Wikipedia for Divergence Theorem says it was discovered by ...
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 ...
3
votes
0answers
215 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
588 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. ...
55
votes
32answers
35k 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 ...
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
votes
0answers
81 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 ...
24
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2answers
795 views

Authorship of Grothendieck universes

Universes seem to first enter Grothendieck's work in SGA 1, which is credited to Grothendieck, and a lengthy discussion is in the chapter on Prefaisceaux (presheaves) in SGA 4. That chapter is ...
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 ...
38
votes
18answers
5k views

What are some deep theorems, and why are they considered deep?

All mathematicians are used to thinking that certain theorems are deep, and we would probably all point to examples such as Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions, the prime number ...
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 ...
43
votes
4answers
3k views

History of “without loss of generality”

"Without loss of generality" is a standard in the mathematical lexicon, and I am writing to ask if anyone knows where the expression was popularized. (The idea has been around since antiquity, I'm ...
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
votes
0answers
100 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
216 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 ...
26
votes
6answers
6k views

A question regarding a claim of V. I. Arnold

In his Huygens and Barrow, Newton and Hooke, Arnold mentions a notorious teaser that, in his opinion, "modern" mathematicians are not capable of solving quickly. Then, he adds that the exception that ...
18
votes
14answers
2k views

Insightful books about elementary mathematics

What are some books that discuss elementary mathematical topics ('school mathematics'), like arithmetic, basic non-abstract algebra, plane & solid geometry, trigonometry, etc, in an insightful ...
58
votes
35answers
6k views

Books about history of recent mathematics

I draw on this question to ask something that has always been a pet peeve of mine. It is very easy to find books about the history of mathematics, much less so if one wants books about the recent (say ...
24
votes
1answer
1k views

more on “Transalgebraic Theories” (a 19th century yoga)?

Among the talks at occasion of the Galois Bicentennial, one is about "Transalgebraic Theories". Unfortunately I found only this article describing that fascinating idea as " an extremely powerful ...
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
253 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 ...
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)?
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 "$a$ ...
11
votes
0answers
235 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 ...
15
votes
19answers
19k 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 ...
12
votes
0answers
246 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
351 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
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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 ...