**9**

votes

**3**answers

421 views

### What is the intuition behind the definition of cuspidal representations?

Let $\mathbb{G}$ be a reductive group defined over a number field $K$, let $Z$ be its center, and let $\mathbb{A}:=\mathbb{A}_K$ be the ring of adeles of $K$. Reasonably, we care about the ...

**2**

votes

**2**answers

159 views

### Intuition on Lindeberg condition

I want to know how Lindeberg came up with the condition which is sufficient for CLT to hold ? What is the intuition behind such an expression ?

**22**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### A geometric characterization for arithmetic genus

Let $X$ be a smooth projective variety over $\mathbb{C}$. The following information is all equivalent (any of these numbers can be computed by a linear equation from any of the others):
the ...

**25**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Intuition for coends

Let $D$ be a co-complete category and $C$ be a small category. For a functor $F:C^{op}\times C \to D$ one defines the co-end
$$
\int^{c\in C} F(c,c)
$$
as the co-equalizer of
$$
\coprod_{c\to ...

**152**

votes

**61**answers

79k views

### Proofs without words

Can you give examples of proofs without words? In particular, can you give examples of proofs without words for non-trivial results?
(One could ask if this is of interest to mathematicians, and I ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

720 views

### “Paradoxes” in $\mathbb{R}^n$

One may think of this question as a duplicate of this one. I see it more like an extension.
The "inscribed sphere paradox" discussed in the aforementioned question states that if you inscribe a ...

**4**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Is there a way to graphically imagine smash product of two topological spaces?

Recently I've been reading "Topology" by Klaus Janich. I find this book very entertaining as it contains lots of graphical illustrations that appeal to my "geometrical" imagination. In paragraph 3.6 ...

**52**

votes

**11**answers

9k views

### “Philosophical” meaning of the Yoneda Lemma

The Yoneda Lemma is a simple result of category theory, and its proof is very straightforward.
Yet I feel like I do not truly understand what it is about; I have seen a few comments here mentioning ...

**28**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Is there a good way to think of vanishing cycles and nearby cycles?

Once in a while I run into literature that invokes vanishing cycle machinery with a cryptic sentence like, "this follows from a standard vanishing cycle argument." Is there a good way to look at ...

**19**

votes

**11**answers

13k views

### Why is the gradient normal?

This is a somewhat long discussion so bear with me. There is a theorem that I have always been curious about from an intuitive standpoint. This is an issue that has been glossed over in most ...

**71**

votes

**15**answers

8k views

### What is torsion in differential geometry intuitively?

Hi,
given a connection on the tangent space of a manifold, one can define its torsion:
$$T(X,Y):=\triangledown_X Y - \triangledown_Y X - [X,Y]$$
What is the geometric picture behind this ...

**72**

votes

**24**answers

19k views

### What is convolution intuitively?

If random variable $X$ has a probability distribution of $f(x)$ and random variable $Y$ has a probability distribution $g(x)$ then $(f*g)(x)$, the convolution of $f$ and $g$, is the probability ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

358 views

### Getting the story of Dynkin and Satake diagrams straight

I've been trying to teach myself the theory of Lie groups. The sources I've been reading reference Lie algebras in the context of Dynkin and Satake diagrams, but not Lie groups (which I am more ...

**49**

votes

**15**answers

6k views

### What's a nice argument that shows the volume of the unit ball in $\mathbb R^n$ approaches 0?

Before you close for "homework problem", please note the tags.
Last week, I gave my calculus 1 class the assignment to calculate the $n$-volume of the $n$-ball. They had finished up talking about ...

**28**

votes

**5**answers

728 views

### are there natural examples of classical mechanics that happens on a symplectic manifold that isn't a cotangent bundle?

I'm curious about just how far the abstraction to a symplectic formalism can be justified by appeal to actual physical examples. There's good motivation, for example, for working over an arbitrary ...

**44**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### Is there an intuitive reason for Zariski's main theorem?

Zariski's main theorem has many guises, and so I will give you the freedom to pick the one that you find to be most intuitive. For the sake of completeness, I will put here one version:
Zariski's ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

387 views

### What motivated Rademacher's contour along the Ford circles?

Apologies if this question isn't suitable for MathOverflow; I posted it on MSE here but it didn't get a response and it felt like it was on the cusp of being suitable for here.
After Ramanujan and ...

**16**

votes

**11**answers

4k views

### Examples of using physical intuition to solve math problems

For the purposes of this question let a "physical intuition" be an intuition
that is derived from your everyday experience of physical reality. Your
intuitions about how the spin of a ball affects ...

**38**

votes

**7**answers

3k views

### Demystifying the Caratheodory Approach to Measurability

Nowadays, the usual way to extend a measure on an algebra of sets to a measure on a $\sigma$-algebra, the Caratheodory approach, is by using the outer measure $m^* $ and then taking the family of all ...

**159**

votes

**7**answers

78k views

### Philosophy behind Mochizuki's work on the ABC conjecture

Mochizuki has recently announced a proof of the ABC conjecture. It is far too early to judge its correctness, but it builds on many years of work by him. Can someone briefly explain the philosophy ...

**41**

votes

**4**answers

6k views

### Zagier's one-sentence proof of Fermat's theorem.

Zagier has a very short proof ( MR1041893) for the fact that every prime number $p$ of the form $4k+1$ is the sum of two squares.
The proof defines an involution of the set $S= \lbrace (x,y,z) \in ...

**68**

votes

**36**answers

13k views

### The phenomena of eventual counterexamples

Define an "eventual counterexample" to be
$P(a) = T $ for $a < n$
$P(n) = F$
$n$ is sufficiently large for $P(n) = T\ \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$ to be a 'reasonable' conjecture to make.
where ...

**11**

votes

**2**answers

4k views

### Truth of the Poisson summation formula

The Poisson summation says, roughly, that summing a smooth $L^1$-function of a real variable at integral points is the same as summing its Fourier transform at integral points(after suitable ...

**83**

votes

**16**answers

11k views

### How do I make the conceptual transition from multivariable calculus to differential forms?

One way to define the algebra of differential forms $\Omega(M)$ on a smooth manifold $M$ (as explained by John Baez's week287) is as the exterior algebra of the dual of the module of derivations on ...

**5**

votes

**1**answer

844 views

### Self-intersection and the normal bundle

Let $X/k$ be a surface nonsingular and proper over an algebraically closed field $k$. Let $C \subset X$ be a nonsingular curve. Then it is clear that the self-intersection $(C \cdot C)_X$ is ...

**5**

votes

**2**answers

257 views

### How does Tate cohomology fit into a derived categories framework?

I've read through one class field theory text after another, but there's something very non-intuitive for me about cohomology that makes it hard for me to understand why Tate cohomology was invented.
...

**3**

votes

**1**answer

420 views

### What do orbital integrals have to do with reciprocity?

Hi, this is my first question (of many). I am blogging for the Fields Medal Symposium and would like to get into the mathematics involved with our program.
In an attempt to sort through the articles ...

**16**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Intuition for Integral Transforms

It is well known that the operations of differentiation and integration are reduced to multiplication and division after being transformed by an integral transform (like e.g. Fourier or Laplace ...

**6**

votes

**4**answers

758 views

### How to solve Ax=b incrementally ?

Hi, everyone.
What I am struggling is the following problem. I have a linear matrix equation $Ax=b$, where $A$ is a known $n \times n$ large sparse real matrix, $x$ and $b$ are known $n \times 1$ ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

277 views

### Intuition of Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy

For a measurable entropy of measurable transformation $T$ from $(X,\mathcal{B},m)$ to itself.
For each finite measurable partition $\mathcal{A}=\{A_i\}_{i=1}^{m}$ of $X$, we can define
...

**62**

votes

**24**answers

26k views

### Intuitive crutches for higher dimensional thinking

I once heard a joke (not a great one I'll admit...) about higher dimensional thinking that went as follows-
An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are discussing how to visualise four ...

**5**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### What is a complex inner product space “really”?

This is an extended re-post of a question that I have asked on MSE not a long time ago. But anyway, it seems more appropriate for MO.
To begin with, in a real inner product space we have a geometric ...

**3**

votes

**3**answers

528 views

### Mock Theta Functions

I am studying about Mock modular forms and Mock theta functions. I wonder how Zwegers connected mock theta functions with Harmonic Maass Forms? I mean, what was the philosophy/idea of Mock Theta ...

**31**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### Intuition about the cotangent complex?

Does anyone have an answer to the question "What does the cotangent complex measure?"
Algebraic intuitions (like "homology measures how far a sequence is from being exact") are as welcome as ...

**48**

votes

**11**answers

3k views

### How should one think about non-Hausdorff topologies?

In most basic courses on general topology, one studies mainly Hausdorff spaces and finds that they fit quite well with our geometric intuition and generally, things work "as they should" ...

**5**

votes

**0**answers

119 views

### What is the analogy between the Hilbert function and L-functions?

In his book Projective Varieties and Modular Forms, M. Eichler uses the notation $L(\lambda, M)$ for the Hilbert function of a finite graded $R=k[x_0, \dots, x_n]$-module $M$. So, $L(\lambda, M) = ...

**2**

votes

**2**answers

301 views

### Schönhageâ€“Strassen algorithm

After brief intro to Fourier series, CFT, DFT and their basic properties I enjoyed implementing forward and backward FFT algorithm in complex numbers. I was happy to, at least, have an idea how is it ...

**17**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Some intuition behind the five lemma?

Slightly simplified, the five lemma states that if we have a commutative diagram (in, say, an abelian category)
$$\require{AMScd}
\begin{CD}
A_1 @>>> A_2 @>>> A_3 @>>> A_4 ...

**1**

vote

**1**answer

119 views

### Explaining a comment: Difference between a transformation of points and a transformation of coordinates

In a comment to the top answer of this question Darij Grinberg says that
the problem with the dynamical perspective is that it is way harder to
grasp for algebraic/combinatorial-minded people ...

**18**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Flips in the Minimal Model Program

In order get a minimal model for a given a variety $X$, we can carry out a sequence of contractions $X\rightarrow X_1\ldots \rightarrow X_n$ in such a way that that every map contracts some curves on ...

**3**

votes

**2**answers

466 views

### Visualization of the real projective plane [closed]

Consider a closed (compact and without boundary) and non-orientable 2-manifold $M$. By Whitney embedding theorem, one can embed $M$ in $\mathbb{R}^4$. $M$ cannot be embeded in $\mathbb{R}^3$ and just ...

**22**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### What examples of distributions should I keep in mind?

I'm learning a bit about the theory of distributions. What examples of distributions will help me develop good intuition?
Definitions: Let $U$ be an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$. Write ...

**21**

votes

**7**answers

838 views

### Intuition for failure of Implicit Function theorem on Frechet Manifolds

When dealing with moduli spaces of, say connections or metrics, I am using the notions of Frechet spaces/manifolds/groups. I have become familiar with Banach manifolds (I think), but Frechet manifolds ...

**0**

votes

**3**answers

943 views

### Intuitions/connections/examples for “eigen-*”

There are many concepts in mathematics that begin with the German word "eigen": eigenvector, eigenvalue, eigenspace, eigenstate, eigenfunction, eigensystem etc. (to name just the most important (?) ...

**4**

votes

**0**answers

136 views

### What is the meaning of the cospecialization map?

This question comes from the same place as my other one. In reading SGA 4 1/2, but not SGA4 itself (at least, not the obvious sections xv + xvi), one can learn about the "cospecialization morphisms" ...

**0**

votes

**1**answer

198 views

### Generalization of join of simplicial complexes

The join of two abstract simplicial complexes $K$ and $L$, denoted $K\star L$ is defined as a simplicial complex on the base set $V(K)\dot{\cup} V(L)$ whose simplices are disjoint union of simplices ...

**38**

votes

**15**answers

9k views

### Most 'unintuitive' application of the Axiom of Choice?

It is well-known that the axiom of choice is equivalent to many other assumptions, such as the well-ordering principle, Tychonoff's theorem, and the fact that every vector space has a basis. Even ...

**8**

votes

**2**answers

623 views

### Intuition behind the spectral density of random matrices

Hi,
I have read that the spectral density of an NxN random matrix consisting of iid random variables with zero mean and unit variance converges as N goes to infinity to the uniform distribution on ...

**7**

votes

**4**answers

749 views

### Coboundaries and Gluing in Cech Cohomology - Intuition?

I'm trying to develop an intuition for Cech cohomology geometrically, but am currently failing. A lot of people seem to say that the groups $H^n$ measure obstructions to gluing local sections to get ...

**22**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### What is the difference between homology and cohomology?

In intuitive terms, what is the main difference? We know that homology is essentially the number of $n$-cycles that are not $n$-boundaries in some simplicial complex $X$. This is, more or less, the ...