If it turns out that a problem is equivalent to a known open problem, then the open-problem tag is added. After that, the question essentially becomes, "What is known about this problem? What are some possible ways to approach this problem? What are some ways that people have tried to attack it ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

311
votes
2answers
24k views

Polynomial bijection from $\mathbb Q\times\mathbb Q$ to $\mathbb Q$?

Is there any polynomial $f(x,y)\in{\mathbb Q}[x,y]{}\ $ such that $f:\mathbb{Q}\times\mathbb{Q} \rightarrow\mathbb{Q}$ is a bijection?
194
votes
7answers
12k views

Polynomial representing all nonnegative integers

Lagrange proved that every nonnegative integer is a sum of 4 squares. Gauss proved that every nonnegative integer is a sum of 3 triangular numbers. Is there a 2-variable polynomial $f(x,y) \in ...
152
votes
88answers
26k views

Not especially famous, long-open problems which anyone can understand

Question: I'm asking for a big list of not especially famous, long open problems that anyone can understand. Community wiki, so one problem per answer, please. Motivation: I plan to use this list ...
150
votes
7answers
7k views

Two commuting mappings in the disk

Suppose that $f$ and $g$ are two commuting continuous mappings from the closed unit disk (or, if you prefer, the closed unit ball in $R^n$) to itself. Does there always exist a point $x$ such that ...
75
votes
4answers
4k views

If $2^x $and $3^x$ are integers, must $x$ be as well?

I'm fascinated by this open problem (if it is indeed still that) and every few years I try to check up on its status. Some background: Let $x$ be a positive real number. If $n^x$ is an integer for ...
58
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it known that the ring of periods is not a field?

I have just learned here that we know numbers that are not periods; is it known meanwhile that the ring of periods is not a field? I know that it is conjectured that $1/\pi$ is not a period, but the ...
57
votes
0answers
3k views

Volumes of Sets of Constant Width in High Dimensions

Background The n dimensional Euclidean ball of radius 1/2 has width 1 in every direction. Namely, when you consider a pair of parallel tangent hyperplanes in any direction the distance between them ...
56
votes
1answer
3k views

Nontrivial finite group with trivial group homologies?

I stumbled across this question in a seminar-paper a long time ago: Does there exist a positive integer $N$ such that if $G$ is a finite group with $\bigoplus_{i=1}^NH_i(G)=0$ then $G=\lbrace ...
53
votes
23answers
15k views

Open problems with monetary rewards

Since the old days, many mathematicians have been used to attaching monetary rewards to problems they admit are difficult. Their reasons could be to draw other mathematicians' attention, to express ...
53
votes
3answers
2k views

Does linearization of categories reflect isomorphism?

Given a category $C$ and a commutative ring $R$, denote by $RC$ the $R$-linearization: this is the category enriched over $R$-modules which has the same objects as $C$, but the morphism module between ...
49
votes
6answers
9k views

Is Thompson's Group F amenable?

Last year a paper on the arXiv (Akhmedov) claimed that Thompson's group $F$ is not amenable, while another paper, published in the journal "Infinite dimensional analysis, quantum probability, and ...
48
votes
0answers
2k views

2, 3, and 4 (a possible fixed point result ?)

The question below is related to the classical Browder-Goehde-Kirk fixed point theorem. Let $K$ be the closed unit ball of $\ell^{2}$, and let $T:K\rightarrow K$ be a mapping such that $\Vert ...
47
votes
8answers
6k views

The “sensitivity” of 2-colorings of the d-dimensional integer lattice

Consider the $d$-dimensional integer lattice, $Z^d$. Call two points in $Z^d$ "neighbors" if their Euclidean distance is 1 (i.e., if they differ by 1 on exactly one coordinate). Let $C$ be a ...
46
votes
1answer
2k views

A function whose fixed points are the primes

If $a(n) = (\text{largest proper divisor of } n)$, let $f:\mathbb{N} \setminus \{ 0,1\} \to \mathbb{N}$ be defined by $f(n) = n+a(n)-1$. For instance, $f(100)=100+50-1=149$. Clearly the fixed points ...
45
votes
2answers
2k views

vector balancing problem

I believe the solution posted to the arXiv on June 17 by Marcus, Spielman, and Srivastava is correct. This problem may be hard, so I don't expect an off-the-cuff solution. But can anyone suggest ...
43
votes
1answer
1k views

Local structure of rational varieties

I've been asked this question by a colleague who's not an algebraic geometer; we both feel that the answer should be "no", but I don't have a clue how to prove it. Here's the question: let $X$ be a ...
42
votes
2answers
3k views

Polynomials having a common root with their derivatives

Here is a question someone asked me a couple of years ago. I remember having spent a day or two thinking about it but did not manage to solve it. This may be an open problem, in which case I'd be ...
40
votes
12answers
2k views

Can a discrete set of the plane of uniform density intersect all large triangles?

Let S be a discrete subset of the Euclidean plane such that the number of points in a large disc is approximately equal to the area of the disc. Does the complement of S necessarily contain triangles ...
39
votes
4answers
6k views

Do there exist chess positions that require exponentially many moves to reach?

By "chess" here I mean chess played on an $n\times n$ board with an unbounded number of (non-king) pieces. Some care is needed if you want to generalize some of the subtler rules of chess to an ...
38
votes
13answers
5k views

What are some of the big open problems in 3-manifold theory?

From what I understand, the geometrization theorem and its proof helped to settle a lot of outstanding questions about the geometry and topology of 3-manifolds, but there still seems to be quite a lot ...
38
votes
11answers
2k views

Important open problems that have already been reduced to a finite but infeasible amount of computation

Most open problems, when formalized, naturally involve quantification over infinite sets, thereby obviating the possibility, even in principle, of "just putting it on a computer." Some questions ...
38
votes
7answers
5k views

Is there a complex structure on the 6-sphere?

I don't know who first asked this question, but it's a question that I think many differential and complex geometers have tried to answer because it sounds so simple and fundamental. There are even a ...
37
votes
30answers
5k views

Fundamental problems whose solution seems completely out of reach [closed]

In many areas of mathematics there are fundamental problems that are embarrasingly natural or simple to state, but whose solution seem so out of reach that they are barely mentioned in the literature ...
37
votes
5answers
3k views

Can $N^2$ have only digits 0 and 1, other than $N=10^k$?

Pablo Solis asked this at a recent 20 questions seminar at Berkeley. Is there a positive integer $N$, not of the form $10^k$, such that the digits of $N^2$ are all 0's and 1's? It seems very ...
36
votes
1answer
1k views

improving known bounds for Pierce expansions; cash prize

Here's a problem that I thought of back in 1978 or so, and only a little progress has been made on it since then. I still think about it from time to time, but probably not that many people have ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

The maximum of a polynomial on the unit circle

Encouraged by the progress made in a recently posted MO problem, here is a "conceptually related" problem originating from a 2003 joint paper of Sergei Konyagin and myself. Suppose we are given $n$ ...
33
votes
2answers
2k views

Euler and the Four-Squares Theorem

There are several questions in the Euler-Goldbach correspondence that I am unable to answer. Sometimes it does not take very much: in his letter to Goldbach dated June 9th, 1750, Euler conjectured ...
33
votes
6answers
2k views

Can we color Z^+ with n colors such that a, 2a, …, na all have different colors for all a?

For example for n=2 coloring odd numbers red, numbers of the form 4k+2 blue and so on works. This problem was posed in the KoMaL for n+1 prime, if I know well by Geza Kos. I verified it for all ...
33
votes
0answers
1k views

Set-theoretic reformulation of the invariant subspace problem

The invariant subspace problem (ISP) for Hilbert spaces asks whether every bounded linear operator $A$ on $l^2$ (with complex scalars) must have a closed invariant subspace other than $\{0\}$ and ...
32
votes
7answers
2k views

The shortest path in first passage percolation

Consider a square planar grid. (The vertices are pair of points in the plane with integer coordinates and two vertices are adjacent if they agree in one coordinate and differ by one in the other.) ...
31
votes
2answers
2k views

Difficult examples for Frankl's union-closed conjecture

Frankl's well-known union-closed conjecture states that if F is a finite family of sets that is closed under taking unions (that is, if A and B belong to the family then so does $A\cup B$), then there ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

Factorials in Pascals Triangle

Hi, I asked this question of Keith Conrad, and he suggested that I try posting here. One of my students observed that the only instances of factorials in the interior of Pascal's triangle are ...
29
votes
8answers
4k views

Series whose convergence is not known

For most of the mathematical concepts I learn, it has more or less always been possible to find (at least google and find) unsolved problems pertaining to that specific concept. Keeping a bag of ...
29
votes
4answers
1k views

Are most cubic plane curves over the rationals elliptic?

%This is a new version of the original question modified in the light of the answers and comments. The word 'most' in the title is ambiguous. The following is one way of making it precise. ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Can we cover the unit square by these rectangles?

The following question was a research exercise (i.e. an open problem) in R. Graham, D.E. Knuth, and O. Patashnik, "Concrete Mathematics", 1988, chapter 1. It is easy to show that $$\sum_{1 \leq k } ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

Is the set of primes “translation-finite”?

The definition in the title probably needs explaining. I should say that the question itself was an idea I had for someone else's undergraduate research project, but we decided early on it would be ...
29
votes
1answer
935 views

Example of a compact Kähler manifold with non-finitely generated canonical ring?

A celebrated recent theorem of Birkar-Cascini-Hacon-McKernan and Siu says that the canonical ring $R(X)=\oplus_{m\geq 0}H^0(X,mK_X)$ of any smooth algebraic variety $X$ over $\mathbb{C}$ is a finitely ...
29
votes
0answers
408 views

Which region in the plane with a given area has the most domino tilings?

I just finished teaching a class in combinatorics in which I included a fairly easy upper bound on the number of domino tilings of a region in the plane as a function of its area. So this led to ...
29
votes
0answers
1k views

Shortest closed curve to inspect a sphere

Let $S$ be a sphere in $\mathbb{R}^3$. Let $C$ be a closed curve in $\mathbb{R}^3$ disjoint from and exterior to $S$ which has the property that every point $x$ on $S$ is visible to some point $y$ of ...
28
votes
1answer
1k views

Density of values of polynomials in two variables

This question is a reposting of a comment I made on Polynomial representing all nonnegative integers. Let $f(x,y)\in \mathbb Q[x,y]$ such that $f(\mathbb Z\times \mathbb Z)$ is a subset of $\mathbb ...
27
votes
3answers
813 views

Is the fixed point property for posets preserved by products?

Recall that a partially ordered set (poset) $P$ has the fixed point property (FPP) if any order preserving function $f:P\longrightarrow P$ has a fixed point. Theorem. Suppose $P$ and $Q$ are posets ...
27
votes
2answers
889 views

Is there an associative metric on the non-negative reals?

Recall that a function $f\colon X\times X \to \mathbb{R}_{\ge 0}$ is a metric if it satisfies: definiteness: $f(x,y) = 0$ iff $x=y$, symmetry: $f(x,y)=f(y,x)$, and the triangle inequality: $f(x,y) ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

Is the ratio Perimeter/Area for a finite union of unit squares at most 4?

Update: As I have just learned, this is called Keleti's perimeter area conjecture. Prove that if H is the union of a finite number of unit squares in the plane, then the ratio of the perimeter and ...
27
votes
0answers
2k views

A Combinatorial Abstraction for The “Polynomial Hirsch Conjecture”

Consider $t$ disjoint families of subsets of {1,2,…,n}, ${\cal F}_1,{\cal F_2},\dots {\cal F_t}$ . Suppose that (*) For every $i \lt j \lt k$ and every $R \in {\cal F}_i$, and $T \in {\cal F}_k$, ...
25
votes
2answers
905 views

A group-theoretic perspective on Frankl's union closed problem

Here is a group theoretic phrasing of a special case of the union closed conjecture: Question: Given a finite group $G$, is there an element of prime power order which is contained in at most half ...
25
votes
6answers
2k views

When shorter means smaller?

Assume a convex figure $F\subset \mathbb R^2$ satisfies the following property: if $f:F\to \mathbb R^2$ is a distance-non-increasing map then its image $f(F)$ is congruent to a subset of $F$. Is it ...
25
votes
1answer
1k views

Important open questions in the field of Tropical geometry

What are some of the important unanswered questions in the field of tropical geometry?
25
votes
0answers
1k views

Is S^2 x S^4 a complex manifold?

As observed by Calabi a long time ago, the manifold $S^2\times S^4$ admits an almost-complex structure (obtained by embedding it in $\mathbb{R}^7$ and using the octonionic product), which however is ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

Is Lebesgue's “universal covering” problem still open?

The following problem has been attributed to Lebesgue. Let "set" denote any subset of the Euclidean plane. What is the greatest lower bound of the diameter of any set which contains a subset congruent ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

Projective Plane of Order 12

I asked this question on the new Theoretical Computer Science "overflow" site, and commenters suggested I ask it here. That question is here, and it contains additional links, which I doubt I can ...