This tag is used if a reference is needed in a paper or textbook on a specific result.

**228**

votes

**68**answers

108k 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 ...

**121**

votes

**10**answers

15k views

### Is there an introduction to probability theory from a structuralist/categorical perspective?

The title really is the question, but allow me to explain.
I am a pure mathematician working outside of probability theory, but the concepts and techniques of probability theory (in the sense of ...

**117**

votes

**46**answers

39k views

### Ways to prove the fundamental theorem of algebra

This seems to be a favorite question everywhere, including Princeton quals. How many ways are there?
Please give a new way in each answer, and if possible give reference. I start by giving two:
...

**70**

votes

**13**answers

16k views

### Statistics for mathematicians

I'm looking for an overview of statistics suitable for the mathematically mature reader: someone familiar with measure theoretic probability at say Billingsley level, but almost completely ignorant of ...

**67**

votes

**6**answers

9k views

### How to find ICM talks?

I am very interested in reading some and skimming through the list of invited talks at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Since the proceedings contain talks supposedly by top experts in ...

**65**

votes

**7**answers

10k views

### Is the boundary $\partial S$ analogous to a derivative?

Without prethought, I mentioned in class once that the reason the symbol $\partial$
is used to represent the boundary operator in topology is
that its behavior is akin to a derivative.
But after ...

**63**

votes

**9**answers

7k views

### Theoretical physics: Why not just R^4?

You and I are having a conversation:
"Okay," I say,"I think I get it. The gauge groups we know and love arise naturally as symmetries of state spaces of particles."
"Something like that"
"...And ...

**60**

votes

**15**answers

7k views

### Mathematical research published in the form of poems

The article
Friedrich Wille: Galerkins Lösungsnäherungen bei monotonen Abbildungen,
Math. Z. 127 (1972), no. 1, 10-16
is written in the form of a lengthy poem, in a style similar to that
of the ...

**60**

votes

**7**answers

18k views

### Is Mac Lane still the best place to learn category theory?

For a student embarking on a study of algebraic topology, requiring a knowledge of basic category theory, with a long-term view toward higher/stable/derived category theory, ...
Is Mac Lane still ...

**58**

votes

**15**answers

6k views

### Sophisticated treatments of topics in school mathematics

Sophisticated mathematical concepts typically shed light on sophisticated mathematics. But in a few cases they also apply to elementary mathematics in an interesting way. I find such examples ...

**58**

votes

**23**answers

12k views

### Errata for Atiyah-Macdonald

Is there a good errata for Atiyah-Macdonald available? A cursory Google search reveals a laughably short list here, with just a few typos. Is there any source available online which lists inaccuracies ...

**58**

votes

**4**answers

8k views

### Nelson's program to show inconsistency of ZF

At the end of the paper Division by three by Peter G. Doyle and John H. Conway, the authors say:
Not that we believe there really are any such things as infinite sets, or that the Zermelo-Fraenkel ...

**57**

votes

**2**answers

5k views

### Has the mathematical content of Grothendieck's “Récoltes et Semailles” been used?

This question is partly motivated by this one.
Motivation
Grothendieck's "Récoltes et Semailles" has been cited on various occasions on this forum. See for instance the answers to this question or ...

**56**

votes

**5**answers

5k views

### Are there any serious investigations of whether “mathematicians do their best work when they're young”?

There is no shortage of anecdotes and conjectures on both sides of this widespread belief, but good supporting data either way is harder to find. Can anyone provide any references for serious ...

**55**

votes

**9**answers

5k views

### How does one find out what's happening in contemporary mathematics research?

How does one find out what's happening in contemporary mathematics research?
EDIT: I should have mentioned that I am looking for open access online sources. It so happens that I have been outside ...

**53**

votes

**3**answers

4k views

### What was Hilbert's view of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems?

According to Solomon Feferman, in his slide presentation "Three Problems for Mathematics", Hilbert wrote (in regards to Gödel's second incompleteness theorem):
...the end goal [is] to establish as ...

**50**

votes

**3**answers

5k views

### Is this differential identity known?

Recently I discovered the differential identity
$$ \frac{d^{k+1}}{dx^{k+1}} (1+x^2)^{k/2} = \frac{(1 \times 3 \times \dots \times k)^2}{(1+x^2)^{(k+2)/2}}$$
valid for any odd natural number $k$; for ...

**49**

votes

**9**answers

5k views

### What are “classical groups”?

Unlike many other terms in mathematics which have a universally understood meaning (for instance, "group"), the term classical group seems to have a fuzzier definition. Apparently it originates with ...

**47**

votes

**2**answers

15k views

### What are “perfectoid spaces”?

This talk is about a theory of "perfectoid spaces", which "compares objects in characteristic p with objects in characteristic 0". What are those spaces, where can one read about them?
Edit: A bit ...

**46**

votes

**17**answers

5k views

### Essays and thoughts on mathematics

Many distinguished mathematicians, at some point of their career,
collected their thoughts on mathematics (its aesthetic, purposes,
methods, etc.) and on the work of a mathematician in written ...

**46**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Is the Mendeleev table explained in quantum mechanics?

Does anybody know if there exists a mathematical explanation of the Mendeleev table in quantum mechanics? In some textbooks (for example in "F.A.Berezin, M.A.Shubin. The Schrödinger Equation") the ...

**45**

votes

**24**answers

8k views

### The concept of Duality

I have been thinking for sometime about asking this question, but because I did not want to have two "big-list" questions open at the same time, I did not ask this one. Now its time has come.
...

**45**

votes

**13**answers

12k views

### A reading list for topological quantum field theory?

Can you suggest a reading list, or at least a few papers that you think would be useful, for a beginner in topological quantum field theory? I know what the curvature of a connection is, know basic ...

**44**

votes

**30**answers

6k 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 ...

**44**

votes

**6**answers

5k views

### What is the significance of non-commutative geometry in mathematics?

This is a question that has been winding around my head for a long time and I have not found a convincing answer. The title says everything, but I am going to enrich my question by little more ...

**44**

votes

**8**answers

4k views

### Natural transformations as categorical homotopies

Every text book I've ever read about Category Theory gives the definition of natural transformation as a collection of morphisms which make the well known diagrams commute.
There is another possible ...

**43**

votes

**13**answers

7k views

### Good introductory references on algebraic stacks?

Are there any good introductory texts on algebraic stacks?
I have found some readable half-finsished texts on the net, but the authors always seem to give up before they are finished. I have also ...

**43**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### Tetris-like falling sticky disks

Suppose unit-radius disks fall vertically from $y=+\infty$,
one by one, and create a random jumble of disks above the $x$-axis.
When a falling disk hits another, it stops and sticks there.
Otherwise, ...

**43**

votes

**1**answer

3k views

### What were the main ideas and gaps in Yoichi Miyaoka's attempted proof (1988) of Fermat's Last Theorem?

Out of sheer curiosity I have been reading Stewert and Tall's "Algebraic Number Theory and Fermat's Last Theorem" (2001). As it contains various bits of history, I found out to my own shame that I was ...

**43**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Which small finite simple groups are not yet known to be Galois groups over Q?

The subject line pretty much says it all. To expand just a little bit:
1) What is the smallest simple group that is not yet known to occur as a Galois group over $\mathbb{Q}$? (Variants: not known ...

**42**

votes

**10**answers

7k views

### The functional equation $f(f(x))=x+f(x)^2$

I'd like to gather information and references on the following functional equation for power series $$f(f(x))=x+f(x)^2,$$$$f(x)=\sum_{k=1}^\infty c_k x^k$$
(so $c_0=0$ is imposed).
First things that ...

**42**

votes

**1**answer

3k views

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

Edit (June 2015): Addressing this problem is a brief project report from the Illinois Geometry Lab (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), dated May 2015, that appears here along with a ...

**41**

votes

**3**answers

4k views

### $C^1$ isometric embedding of flat torus into $\mathbb{R}^3$

I read (in a paper by Emil Saucan) that the flat torus may be isometrically embedded
in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with a $C^1$ map by the Kuiper extension of the Nash Embedding Theorem,
a claim repeated in this ...

**41**

votes

**3**answers

2k 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 ...

**40**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Topple height of randomly stacked bricks

What is the expected height of a stack of unit-length bricks, each one
stacked on the previous with a uniformly random shift within $\pm \delta$?
The stack topples if the center of gravity of the top ...

**39**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Which nonlinear PDEs are of interest to algebraic geometers and why?

Motivation
I have recently started thinking about the interrelations among algebraic geometry and nonlinear PDEs. It is well known that the methods and ideas of algebraic geometry have lead to a ...

**39**

votes

**2**answers

5k views

### What is a good roadmap for learning Shimura curves?

I am interested in learning about Shimura curves. Unlike most of the people who post reference requests however (see this question for example), my problem is not sorting through an abundance of books ...

**38**

votes

**2**answers

3k views

### About a letter by Richard Palais of 1965.

In Cushman and Bates, Global Aspects of Classical Integrable Systems, 1997, I have read
In a widely circulated but unpublished letter in 1965, Palais explained the symplectic formulation of ...

**37**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Did Emmy Noether ever publish under a man's name?

A recent article in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/27/science/emmy-noether-the-most-significant-mathematician-youve-never-heard-of.html?pagewanted=all says, among other things, ...

**37**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### What is the source of this famous Grothendieck quote?

I've seen the following quote many times on the internet, and have used it myself. It is usually attributed to Grothendieck.
It is better to have a good category with bad objects than a bad category ...

**37**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Is this integral representation of $\zeta(2n+1)$ known?

Background: I'm an undergraduate at an institution with no researchers in analytic number theory, and no ties to the analytic number theory community. I believe I have found what is, as far as I can ...

**37**

votes

**0**answers

2k views

### What does the theta divisor of a number field know about its arithmetic?

This question is about a remark made by van der Geer and Schoof in their beautiful article "Effectivity of Arakelov divisors and the theta divisor of a number field" (from '98) (link).
Let me first ...

**36**

votes

**1**answer

9k views

### Lecture notes by Thurston on tiling

I am looking for a copy of the following
W. Thurston, Groups, tilings, and finite state automata, AMS Colloquium Lecture Notes.
I see that a lot of papers in the tiling literature refer to it but I ...

**36**

votes

**7**answers

3k views

### Deep Learning / Deep neural nets for mathematician

I am interested in finding out the math ideas behind the technologies that are under the umbrella of "Deep Learning" or "Deep neural nets".
Most of the papers/books that are often quoted in ...

**35**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Applications of Grothendieck-Riemann-Roch?

I am currently trying to learn a bit about Grothendieck-Riemann-Roch...
To try to get a better feeling for it, I am looking for examples of nice applications of GRR applied to a proper morphism $X ...

**35**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Status of PL topology

I posted this question on math stackexchange but received no answers. Since I know there are more people knowledgeable in geometric and piecewise-linear (PL) topology here, I'm reposting the question. ...

**35**

votes

**11**answers

9k views

### Standard model of particle physics for mathematicians

If a mathematician who doesn't know much about the physicist's jargon and conventions had the curiosity to learn how the so called Standard Model (of particle physics, including SUSY) works, where ...

**35**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Connections between various generalized algebraic geometries (Toen-Vaquié, Durov, Diers, Lurie)?

As far as I know, there are four possible ways to generalize algebraic geometry by 'simply' replacing the basic category of rings with something similar but more general:
$\bullet$ In the approach by ...

**34**

votes

**9**answers

4k views

### Dimensional Analysis in Mathematics

Is there a sensible and useful definition of units in mathematics? In other words, is there a theory of dimensional analysis for mathematics?
In physics, an extremely useful tool is the Buckingham Pi ...

**34**

votes

**8**answers

2k views

### How to quantify noncommutativity?

If I have two operators or finite-dimensional matrices $A$ and $B$, how can I quantify the amount to which they commute or don't commute? (I would consider it a big plus if it is computable easily for ...