For questions in Mathematics Education as a scientific discipline. For more hands-on questions on teaching Mathematics, please use the tag teaching.

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364
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176answers
96k views

Examples of common false beliefs in mathematics.

The first thing to say is that this is not the same as the question about interesting mathematical mistakes. I am interested about the type of false beliefs that many intelligent people have while ...
102
votes
30answers
30k views

Real-world applications of mathematics, by arxiv subject area?

What are the most important applications outside of mathematics of each of the major fields of mathematics? For concreteness, let's divide up mathematics according to arxiv mathematics categories, ...
123
votes
36answers
24k views

Why is a topology made up of 'open' sets? [closed]

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I don't think I've ever been able to genuinely motivate the definition of a topological space in an undergraduate course. Clearly, the definition distills the essence of ...
86
votes
53answers
18k views

What are your favorite instructional counterexamples?

Related: question #879, Most interesting mathematics mistake. But the intent of this question is more pedagogical. In many branches of mathematics, it seems to me that a good counterexample can be ...
28
votes
20answers
6k views

Why linear algebra is fun!(or ?)

Edit: the original poster is Menny, but the question is CW; the first-person pronoun refers to Menny, not to the most recent editor. I'm doing an introductory talk on linear algebra with the ...
76
votes
26answers
10k views

How To Present Mathematics To Non-Mathematicians?

(Added an epilogue) I started a job as a TA, and it requires me to take a five sessions workshop about better teaching in which we have to present a 10 minutes lecture (micro-teaching). In the last ...
49
votes
15answers
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 ...
174
votes
71answers
73k views

Video lectures of mathematics courses available online for free

It can be difficult to learn mathematics on your own from textbooks, and I often wish universities videotaped their mathematics courses and distributed them for free online. Fortunately, some ...
40
votes
44answers
12k views

An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...
37
votes
9answers
9k views

Relating Category Theory to Programming Language Theory

I'm wondering what the relation of category theory to programming language theory is. I've been reading some books on category theory and topos theory, but if someone happens to know what the ...
23
votes
7answers
4k views

On starting graduate school and common pitfalls…

Hi, I'll be starting graduate school soon, and when I look back at my college career, there are certain things I wish I could have done differently. In hindsight, I wished I wasn't in such a rush to ...
50
votes
20answers
6k views

What should we teach to liberal arts students who will take only one math course?

Even professors in academic departments other than mathematics---never mind other educated people---do not know that such a field as mathematics exists. Once a professor of medicine asked me whether ...
36
votes
19answers
4k views

Are there proofs that you feel you did not “understand” for a long time?

Perhaps the "proofs" of ABC conjecture or newly released weak version of twin prime conjecture or alike readily come to your mind. These are not the proofs I am looking for. Indeed my question was ...
31
votes
4answers
2k views

Motivation for concepts in Algebraic Geometry

I know there was a question about good algebraic geometry books on here before, but it doesn't seem to address my specific concerns. ** Question ** Are there any well-motivated introductions to ...
22
votes
18answers
5k views

Interesting and Accessible Topics in Graph Theory

This summer, I will be teaching an introductory course in graph theory to talented high school seniors. The intent of the course is not to establish proficiency in graph theory, per se. Rather, I hope ...
34
votes
1answer
2k views

Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

The following problem was brought to my attention by a doctoral dissertation on Mathematics Education, but - as far as I know - the solution remains unknown. I have already asked this question on ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Does any textbook take this approach to the isomorphism theorems?

Below, I present an outline of a proof of the first isomorphism theorem for groups. This is how I usually think of the first isomorphism theorem for ______, but groups will get the points across. My ...
28
votes
2answers
842 views

Schubert calculus, as lowbrow as possible

Starting in a week I'm going to be an instructor at a summer program for exceptionally mathematically talented high school students, and I'm going to be teaching a class on Schubert calculus. The ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Uppercase Point Labels in High-School Diagrams: from Euclid?

I wonder if the convention of labeling points in geometric diagrams with uppercase symbols ultimately derives from Greek mathematics, which was originally written in "majuscule" (uppercase) Greek ...
12
votes
2answers
530 views

Where and when did “transition to abstraction” courses start?

I often find myself debating the content and structure of such courses and I would find it useful to know the basic history. I don't remember any such offerings during my own undergraduate days in ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “problem solving” a subject to be taught?

I am witnessing a new curriculum change in my country (Iran). It includes the change of all the mathematics textbooks at all grades. The peoples involved has sent me the textbook for seven graders (13 ...
2
votes
4answers
893 views

When did you “meet Polya”? [closed]

I guess most of us didn't meet Polya in person (this is the answer to the title)! Perhaps, it is much easier to guess that most of us have met one of his writings (or alike) on problem solving, and ...
-4
votes
3answers
640 views

Where is the belly button of the Universe? [closed]

It's fine and nice and wonderful when a part of learning mathematics is chaotic, ad hoc, spontaneous, social, ... However it would be perhaps of fundamental value to know a very central point of ...