# Tagged Questions

**4**

votes

**2**answers

618 views

### Salvaging Leibnizian formalism?

Can one justify Leibniz's formalism in a suitable algebraic or topological context?
We have published some papers recently where we argue that Leibniz's formalism for the calculus wasn't ...

**29**

votes

**1**answer

3k views

### A topologist is not a mathematician - a small question

Years ago I read about a topologist who was to enter the states as an immigrant and was asked a question about his profession. He indicated he was a topologist, but as this was not included on the ...

**30**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Negative impact of wrong or non-rigorous proofs

The recent talks of Voevodsky (for example, http://www.math.ias.edu/~vladimir/Site3/Univalent_Foundations_files/2014_IAS.pdf), which describe subtle errors in proofs by him as well as others, as well ...

**33**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### What recent programmes to alter highly-entrenched mathematical terminology have succeeded, and under what conditions do they tend to succeed or fail?

I think we all occasionally come across terminology that we'd like to see supplanted (e.g. by something more systematic). What I'd like to know is, under what circumstances is it reasonable to believe ...

**27**

votes

**26**answers

4k views

### Mathematicians who made important contributions outside their own field? [closed]

It is often said that scientists who cross disciplinary borders can make unexpected discoveries thanks to their fresh view of the problems at hand.
I am looking for mathematicians who did just that. ...

**7**

votes

**1**answer

773 views

### Is there a “big program” in mathematics at the moment? [closed]

I apologize in the event that you should find this question off topic. Please feel free to delete it if that is the case.
Years ago, I studied undergrad mathematics at university. The understanding ...

**50**

votes

**8**answers

4k views

### Have you solved problems in your sleep? [closed]

I have hit upon major (for me—relative to my trivial accomplishments)
insights in my research
in various sleep-deprived altered states of consciousness,
e.g., long solo car-drives extending ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

134 views

### What is the early history of the concepts of probabilistic independence and conditional probability/expectation?

In the 1738 second edition of The Doctrine of Chances, de Moivre writes,
Two Events are independent, when they have no connexion one with the other, and that the happening of one neither forwards ...

**1**

vote

**0**answers

424 views

### Is it possible to give a fair assessment of the influence of Bourbaki's “Eléments de mathématique”? [closed]

Well, I apologize if this "soft-question" (related to the "Arnold-Serre" debate) is considered as irrelevant for MO, and for possible misunderstandings in the two earlier versions of this post (which ...

**66**

votes

**9**answers

7k views

### Analogues of P vs. NP in the history of mathematics

Recently I wrote a blog post entitled "The Scientific Case for P≠NP". The argument I tried to articulate there is that there seems to be an "invisible electric fence" separating the problems in P ...

**24**

votes

**1**answer

5k views

### Who made the famous error in calculation that 'wasted' the final years of his life?

Sorry, I am merely a Middle School maths teacher at an Australian secondary school. I remember reading years ago about a famous mathematician (18th or 19th Century?) who calculated table upon table of ...

**11**

votes

**2**answers

481 views

### Riemann's quote cited by Lakatos: what is the context?

"If only I had the theorems! Then I should find the proofs easily enough."
This quote is generally attributed to Bernhard Riemann. In particular,
on page 9 in Proofs and refutations by Imre ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

391 views

### Origin of the term “weight” in representation theory

In representation theory, there are the related concepts of weights and roots. Since both are kinds of generalised eigenvalues, and eigenvalues are roots of e.g. the characteristic polynomial, the ...

**18**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Where are Georg Cantor's Original Manuscripts?

Georg Cantor is famous for introducing transfinite numbers and set theory.
A main part of his mathematical point of view about this new type of "numbers" and this new "realm of mathematics" cannot be ...

**37**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### The Arnold – Serre debate

I have read (but I cannot now find where) that Arnold & Serre had a public debate on the value of Bourbaki. Does anyone have more details, or remember or know what was said?

**8**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### What is the source of this E̶r̶d̶ő̶s̶ quote?

Namely, the following one
"All problems appeared once in the [American Mathematical] Monthly."
I remember reading it several years ago... When I first posed the question, I believed that I had ...

**35**

votes

**17**answers

4k views

### What are some deep theorems, and why are they considered deep?

All mathematicians are used to thinking that certain theorems are deep, and we would probably all point to examples such as Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions, the prime number ...

**6**

votes

**1**answer

620 views

### What are current trends/questions in algebraic logic?

What are current trends/questions in algebraic logic? I mean the research developed by Paul Halmos.
Could anyone give some references for the overview of its history? Any overview of its application ...

**5**

votes

**1**answer

251 views

### Origins of Axiomatic Reasoning

Is there any evidence that axiomatic reasoning has been used prior to Thales of Milet (624-547BC), who is generally credited for the "invention" of axioms.
In this context I understand axioms in the ...

**6**

votes

**0**answers

208 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 ...

**6**

votes

**7**answers

923 views

### famous papers/results by non professional mathematicians [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate:
What recent discoveries have amateur mathematicians made?
Dear overflowers
Out of curiosity: do you know any famous papers and/or results by non professional ...

**60**

votes

**24**answers

6k views

### Modern Mathematical Achievements Accessible to Undergraduates

While there is tremendous progress happening in mathematics, most of it is just accessible to specialists. In many cases, the proofs of great results are both long and use difficult techniques. Even ...

**9**

votes

**1**answer

320 views

### Discrete Morse theory and chess

There are many mathematical objects that are similar to groups and Cayley graphs of groups but lack homogeneity in some sense. Graphs of webpages with edges corresponding to links are one example. ...

**28**

votes

**13**answers

2k views

### Great mathematics books by pre-modern authors

Last summer, I read Euclid's Elements, and it was an eye-opening experience; I had assumed that three thousand years' difference would make the notation incomprehensible and the reasoning alien, but ...

**13**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Euler's mathematics in terms of modern theories?

Some aspects of Euler's work were formalized in terms of modern infinitesimal theories by Laugwitz, McKinzie, Tuckey, and others. Referring to the latter, G. Ferraro claims that "one can see in ...

**15**

votes

**1**answer

570 views

### Mendelson's *Mathematical Logic* and the missing Appendix on the consistency of PA

A very soft question, but I hope not out of order here.
In the first edition of Elliott Mendelson's classic Introduction to Mathematical Logic (1964) there is an appendix, giving a version of ...

**38**

votes

**19**answers

6k views

### Mathematicians whose works were criticized by contemporaries but became widely accepted later

Gauss famously discarded Abel's proof that an algebraic equation of degree five or more cannot have a general solution (Abel himself had rejected divergent series as the work of the devil). Cantor's ...

**32**

votes

**31**answers

6k views

### Trichotomies in mathematics

Added. Thanks to all who participated! Let me humbly apologize to those who were annoyed (quite understandably) by this thread, deeming it nothing more than an exercise in futility. If you thought the ...

**11**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### What are some Applications of Teichmüller Theory?

I'm trying to collect some specific examples of applications of Teichmüller Theory. Here are some things I have collected thus far:
No-wandering-domain Theorem (Sullivan)
Theorems of Thurston ...

**7**

votes

**9**answers

993 views

### Examples where adding complexity made a problem simpler

I can think of a few situations in math where a problem becomes easier or an object becomes simpler when some complexity is added. Examples:
$S^n$ is never contractible, but $S^{\infty}$ is.
The ...

**3**

votes

**0**answers

239 views

### A Question Regarding Boolean-valued Models

What were the intuitions motivating the creation (or discovery, if you will) of Boolean-valued models? I have searched for the Scott-Solovay paper on the subject, but to no avail. There also seems to ...

**6**

votes

**0**answers

175 views

### what's the role of $H^{p}(\mathbb{R}^{n})$ in modern (harmonic) analysis?

The classical theory of $H^p$,due to it's heavy dependence on the complex function theory(such as Blaschke products), seemed to have an insurmountable obstacle barrying its extension to several ...

**7**

votes

**2**answers

833 views

### Mathematical computer desk [closed]

D. Gibb, from the Mathematical Laboratory, University of Edinburgh,
describes a Computer Desk in his book A course in interpolation and numerical integration for the
mathematical laboratory, G. Bell ...

**18**

votes

**19**answers

3k views

### History Question: AUTObiography of Mathematicians

According to Wikipedia, an autobiography is an account of the life of a person, written by that person sometimes with a collaborator.
An autobiography offers the author the ability to recreate ...

**25**

votes

**65**answers

7k views

### Fiction books about mathematicians? [closed]

What are some fiction books about mathematicians?
It seems to me rather difficult for writers to create good books on this subject.
Some years ago I thought there were no such books at all.
There ...

**7**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### When has pure mathematics been influenced by the social context of mathematicians?

I recently learned that the Moscow school of descriptive set theory (Egorov, Lusin, etc.) was deeply influenced by the religious movement of Name Worshiping in Russia, as recounted in Graham and ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

851 views

### Raoul Bott's quote on Morse Theory cited by Bestvina and Kahle: where is it from?

I wanted to properly cite the following awesome quote:
Every mathematician has a secret weapon. Mine is Morse theory. - Raoul Bott
Now this has been attributed to Bott in precisely two places ...

**18**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Contacting an eminent mathematician

I have recently started a PhD. and am researching an area that two now eminent mathematicians devoted considerable time to in the 1980s. However, there appears to have been fairly moderate focus on ...

**14**

votes

**0**answers

845 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?

**3**

votes

**1**answer

509 views

### What does the 'V' in 'V-manifold' stand for?

The story of how the name 'orbifold' came about is pretty well-documented, but I can't find any explanation as to why Satake originally named orbifolds 'V-manifolds'. The 'manifold' part is clear ...

**16**

votes

**17**answers

3k views

### Examples of conjectures that were widely believed to be true but later proved false

It seems to me that almost all conjectures (hypotheses) that were widely believed by mathematicians to be true were proved true later, if they ever got proved. Are there any notable exceptions?

**8**

votes

**1**answer

754 views

### Hausdorff and Naive Set Theory

Erhard Scholz, in his article "Felix Hausdorff and the Hausdorff edition" writes the following:
"Hausdorff considered the contemporary attempts to secure axiomatic foundations for set theory as ...

**11**

votes

**1**answer

923 views

### Quote about errors in math writing

I'm searching for the original reference of a quote that went something like:
"Errors in a mathematics text add an element of surprise to an otherwise predictable plot."
I believe it may have been ...

**18**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### What has happened to Lang's Files and other political texts?

For some background on Lang and his files, one can read the first part of Lang's obituary in the AMS Notices at http://www.ams.org/notices/200605/fea-lang.pdf.
The book "Challenges" was published in ...

**6**

votes

**2**answers

501 views

### Where is the Euler/Goldbach correspondence?

I know that there is a 1965 volume containing the Euler/Goldbach correspondence, but I'm interested in looking at the original manuscripts. I'm not finding anything at University of Basel or ...

**4**

votes

**0**answers

669 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, ...

**19**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### In what ways did Leibniz's philosophy foresee modern mathematics?

Leibniz was a noted polymath who was deeply interested in philosophy as well as mathematics, among other things. From my mathematical readings I have the impression that Leibniz's stature as a ...

**8**

votes

**1**answer

463 views

### What is the etymology of zero-sharp?

I have wondered for a while what gave rise to the notation $0^\sharp$. According to wikipedia this is due to Solovay in 1967, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) there's no discussion of why that notation ...

**17**

votes

**21**answers

6k views

### Famous mathematicians with background in arts/humanities/law etc [closed]

I've been motivated by this question about starting to study mathematics at an unusually advanced age. It would be nice to know examples of people who successfully switched from a very different field ...

**11**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### What's tropical about tropical algebra?

Please allow me to ask a potentially dumb question (or maybe more precisely, a question floating on clouds of ignorance):
Why is a max-plus algebra called a tropical algebra?