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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

26
votes
0answers
1k views

Name of amateur who gave a new proof of the Ramanujan-Nagell theorem?

In an article by George Johnson in the New York Times back in 1999, it says that an amateur mathematician from India once sent Ian Stewart a proof of the Ramanujan-Nagell theorem that the Diophantine ...
24
votes
0answers
706 views

History of the Proj construction in algebraic geometry

Projective geometry was introduced by fifteenth century Renaissance painters (like Alberti, da Vinci and Dürer) in the guise of perspective theory, although one could argue that Pappus was already ...
23
votes
0answers
544 views

Next steps on formal proof of classification of finite simple groups

While people are steaming ahead on finessing the proof of the classification of finite simple groups (CFSG), we have a formal proof in Coq of one of the first major components: the Feit-Thompson odd-...
18
votes
0answers
1k views

Origins of the Nerve Theorem

Recently, I've read two papers which have cited the Nerve Theorem, one crediting Borsuk with the result and another Leray. Here is the question: Who was the first to prove the Nerve Theorem?
16
votes
0answers
388 views

History of the functor of points

Until now, I thought the functor of points approach was introduced by Grothendieck at the 1973 Buffalo seminar. However, in this note by Lawvere the author writes: "I myself had learned the ...
13
votes
0answers
321 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 ...
13
votes
0answers
442 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Unpublished Lecture Notes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 ...
13
votes
0answers
778 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 ...
13
votes
0answers
661 views

Where might I find a scanned handwritten copy of Ramanujan's second letter to Hardy?

I am giving a lecture to undergraduates on the lovely identity $$1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + \cdots = -\frac{1}{12}.$$ Ramanujan wrote in his second letter to Hardy (courtesy Wikipedia), "Dear Sir, I am very ...
12
votes
0answers
473 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
231 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 ...
12
votes
0answers
577 views

How come Cartan did not notice the close relationship between symmetric spaces and isoparametric hypersurfaces?

Elie Cartan made fundamental contributions to the theory of Lie groups and their geometrical applications. Among those, we can list the introduction of the remarkable family of Riemannian symmetric ...
12
votes
0answers
330 views

Who stated and proved the “Hopf lemma” on bilinear maps?

If $A\otimes B\rightarrow C$ is a nondegenerate linear map, where $A, B, C$ are vector spaces over an algebraically closed field, then $\dim C\ge \dim A + \dim B -1$. Nondegenerate here means that ...
11
votes
0answers
375 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 ...
11
votes
0answers
325 views

What is the history of the notion of subdivision of categories?

A recent answer by Peter May prompts me to ask a question which I have been considering to ask for several months. (The reason why I have not asked it before is that it is not directly related to my ...
11
votes
0answers
955 views

Galois theory timeline (II)

This question is a sequel. I structured the previous one around Emil Artin's classic treatment of Galois theory from the 1940s, though making clear some reservations of my own about whether Artin ...
10
votes
0answers
526 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 ...
10
votes
0answers
377 views

Proof of Lomnicki and Ulam on Infinite Product Probability Spaces

Given an arbitrary, nonempty family $(\Omega_i,\Sigma_i,\mu_i)_{i\in I}$ of probability spaces, there exists a probability measure $\mu$ on $\otimes_i\Sigma_i$ such that for every finite set $F\...
9
votes
0answers
266 views

From Frege to Gödel - German equivalent?

I know this question does not quite fit here, but I felt it could best be answered here. I recently stumbled upon the book From Frege to Gödel, which is a sourcebook containing some of the most ...
9
votes
0answers
677 views

Has anyone pursued Frege's idea of numbers as second-order concepts?

Gottlob Frege was a pivotal figure in the history of mathematical logic. He gave an analysis of numbers that proceeded along roughly the following lines, in his books "The Foundations of Arithmetic" (...
8
votes
0answers
217 views

On an unpublished result of Magidor

In 1970th, Magidor proved the following important results: (1) Assuming the existence of a supercompact cardinal, it is consistent that $\aleph_\omega$ is strong limit and $2^{\aleph_\omega}=\aleph_{\...
8
votes
0answers
180 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
527 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
245 views

First Table of Random Numbers

What was the first table of random numbers of any sort? The best I can do is Tippett and Pearson's Random Sampling Numbers of 1927. Can anybody identify an earlier table? Thanks for any insight....
7
votes
0answers
183 views

$\alpha$-minimal degrees for singular $\alpha$

An important question in $\alpha$-recursion theory is whether there is a minimal $\alpha$-degree at $\alpha=\aleph_\omega.$ Question 1. Who first introduced the above question, and where can I find ...
7
votes
0answers
407 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
252 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
248 views

Reference Request: Topological h-cobordism theorem in higher dimensions

I think this question on math.stackexchange is more appropriate on mathoverflow. Correct me, if you don't think so. The h-cobordism theorem is true in the topological and in the smooth category in ...
7
votes
0answers
254 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
242 views

What is the historical connection between Zeeman's twist spinning and Fox's Examples?

Both Ralph Fox and (at that time, yet to be knighted) Sir Christopher Zeeman attended the 1961 Georgia topology conference. Fox's paper from that conference was his seminal work, "A Quick Trip through ...
7
votes
0answers
344 views

Why the $M$ for Thom spaces?

I've heard $E$ is for entire space, $B$ is for base space, so what is $M$ for?
7
votes
0answers
653 views

Innovations in deformation theory

I've been trying to get into deformation theory lately, and I became thirsty for a bit of context. Has Deformation Theory seen a lot of development since its inception? If I read Michael Artin's "...
7
votes
0answers
643 views

Original references for the homotopy groups pi_5 of SU(3) and pi_4 of SU(2)?

For revision of a paper (http://arxiv.org/abs/1008.1189), I'd like to correct my references to the original work on aspects of the homotopy groups pi_5 of SU(3) and pi_4 of SU(2). I'm not a ...
6
votes
0answers
178 views

Origin of Lie Product Formula

I'm interested in where Lie wrote down the Lie Product formula (for finite matrices) (the precursor of the Trotter product formula; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie_product_formula). With a ...
6
votes
0answers
479 views

functor before cat?

As i read the literature, derived functors were there several years before derive categories - right?
6
votes
0answers
307 views

Cutting and pasting in Galois theory

I want to ask who was the first to use cut-paste construction in Galois theory. This question is motivated from the trend in contemporary Galois theory to use patching methods to construct Galois ...
6
votes
0answers
411 views

Does mathematical fecundity ever deviate from its applicability?

We are all familiar with Wigner's "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" thesis (1), and of Hardy's opinion that "the great bulk of higher mathematics is useless" (2). I am wondering if there are ...
6
votes
0answers
475 views

Historical and terminological questions about Dan Kan's Ex functor and its relation to the classical case of simplicial complexes

Recall that we may define a functor $\xi:\Delta\to \operatorname{Poset}$ sending a simplex $[n]$ to the set of monotone injections $[k]\hookrightarrow [n]$ for $k\geq 0$ (effectively, $k\leq n$ as ...
5
votes
0answers
156 views
+50

Jets of sections of vector bundles expressed by symmetrized iterated covariant derivatives - who did it first?

The (non-unique) bundle isomorphism between the bundle $J^r E$ of $r$-th order jets of sections of a vector bundle $\pi:E\rightarrow M$ and the direct sum $$\bigoplus^r_{k=0}\vee^kT^*M\otimes E\...
5
votes
0answers
102 views

Historical perspectives on CAT(0) spaces

Does there exist a survey on the early developments of CAT(k) spaces, with the first motivations and the first problems considered? I looked at Bridson and Haefliger's book On metric spaces of non-...
5
votes
0answers
158 views

Reference to forcing with a sigma ideal $\cong$ Cohen forcing

This is a historical question: Who was the first person to notice the following? If $V \models \kappa$ is measurable and $P$ adds $\kappa$ Cohen reals, then in $V^P$, letting $\hat{I}$ to be the ...
5
votes
0answers
303 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
146 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, ...
5
votes
0answers
287 views

Sophus Lie on the symplectic foliation theorem

Given a Poisson manifold $(P,\{\cdot,\cdot\})$, its characteristic distribution $\mathcal C$ is the singular tangent distribution on $M$ generated by the Hamiltonian vector fields,i.e. $$\mathcal C=\...
5
votes
0answers
970 views

What did Hilbert do on Hilbert spaces to deserve his name?

This question is just curiosity. When I had my first course in Functional Analysis, most of basic theorems about Banach spaces were presented to me as attributed to Banach (Hahn-Banach, Banach-...
5
votes
0answers
210 views

Key variety technique, a history question

I have a history question about the technique called "key variety technique" used in algebraic geometry. (see eg http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.9.6880). One can find many ...
4
votes
0answers
170 views

Origin of the name ''momentum map''

Why is the momentum map in the differential geometry of symmetries called the ''momentum'' (or ''moment'') map?
4
votes
0answers
250 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
463 views

sine and Archimedes' derivation of the area of the circle

The elementary "opposite over hypotenuse" definition of the sine function defines the sine of an angle, not a real number. As discussed in the article "A Circular Argument" [Fred Richman, The College ...
3
votes
0answers
264 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: Lemma 3.16. Let $G$ be a compact group and $Rep(G)$ the category of finite ...