Questions that ask about some aspect of mathematical research or study which doesn't involve the actual mathematics. In general, soft questions can be answered without using mathematical reasoning.

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14
votes
10answers
1k views

An example of a proof that is explanatory but not beautiful? (or vice versa)

This question has a philosophical bent, but hopefully it will evoke straightforward, mathematical answers that would be appropriate for this list (like my earlier question about beautiful proofs ...
6
votes
1answer
240 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 ...
35
votes
15answers
3k views

How does the work of a pure mathematician impact society? [closed]

First, I will explain my situation. In my University most of the careers are doing videos to explain what we do and try to attract more people to our careers. I am in a really bad position, because ...
1
vote
4answers
450 views

What is the meaning of “algebraic construction”, and how could this be used in algebraic geometry

I try to make my question clear: When reading a paper or listening a seminar talk, people showed me some set, and claim it to be a scheme; or some map, and claim it to be a morphism. I query why this ...
31
votes
9answers
2k views

Homotopy as a general organizing principle

One of the realizations that led to the development of Homotopy Type Theory (HoTT) is that the ideas of homotopy theory have very broad applicability in mathematics. Indeed, Quillen model categories ...
7
votes
1answer
345 views

Number theory underlying Euler's theory of music

I've recently been studying Euler's theories on music, and I came across Euler's concept of gradus suavitatis or 'degree of pleasure' of a rational number representing the ratio of two tones. (I found ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Review papers in mathematics

Are there review papers, literature reviews in mathematics that describe the recent developments in various fields for a newcomer? Or is the prerequisite knowledge always provided in research ...
6
votes
3answers
732 views

How to Discover Counterexamples and Required Objects [closed]

What are strategies or tips, which research mathematicians have discovered through their work and experience, that would help undergraduates learn how to discover counterexamples or find an object on ...
-1
votes
1answer
290 views

collective slide-hosting for Mathematics [closed]

Has anyone considered using SlideShare to host slides from talks? In much the same way arXiv hosts papers. Truth be told, the slides are often much easier to absorb than the papers. Sometimes I will ...
2
votes
4answers
895 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
1answer
795 views

Preparing for Set Theory Research

Is reading Jech's text on Set Theory too little, just enough, or overkill to prepare oneself to do independent research in set theory? This would be my first attempt at doing independent research ...
19
votes
2answers
719 views

Strict applications of deformation theory in which to dip one's toe

I hesitate to ask a question like this, but I really have tried finding answers to this question on my own and seemed to come up short. I readily admit this is due to my ignorance of algebraic ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a scheme corresponding to the unit interval?

Can someone complete the following table? $\begin{array}{cc} \text{Topology over } \mathbb{R} & \text{Topology over } \mathbb{C} & \text{Algebraic Geometry} \\\\ \hline \mathbb{R} & ...
17
votes
21answers
2k views

What are some examples of mathematicians who had an unconventional education? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Famous mathematicians with background in arts/humanities/law etc What are some examples of mathematicians who had an unconventional education and yet, went on to make an ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Pros and cons of math teaching using smartboards

Currently, there is some talk in my university concerning a change in our lecture rooms from blackboards to smartboards (or other alternatives, such as a smart podium). For that reason, I'm interested ...
8
votes
0answers
282 views

State of research in moduli space of flat connections

I am a recent PhD student trying to settle into a research topic. Even though I have a current project I am working on, I am not particularly enjoying it and would like to switch. Before braving the ...
20
votes
9answers
3k views

Research topics restricted to students at top universities?

Hello everybody. I am a Ph.D student in North America looking for advice about my prospective research area. My supervisor works in a research area, let's say area A, so as soon as I was accepted as ...
5
votes
1answer
794 views

How to find a topic to do research with as a Post-Doc? [closed]

I will soon finish my PhD in arithmetic geometry. My advisor told me that I will have to find my next research topic on my own. How do I do that? (Except for "continue where the PhD thesis ends") Can ...
19
votes
3answers
752 views

Where to look for corrections of papers?

When I start reading a paper, is there some easy way to find a list of corrections for that paper? For example, it happens occasionally that some result of a paper turns out to be wrong, or at least ...
6
votes
0answers
192 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there an RSS reader for mathematicians?

For a while, I have used Google Reader to stay on top of several math blogs. Unfortunately, Google will pull the plug on Reader one month from today, so I need to find an alternative fast. I was ...
5
votes
7answers
866 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
395 views

A question concerning how mathematicians feel about theorems and their proofs. [closed]

Must one of my favorite geometrical theorems come to be regarded as "trivial" or "obvious", when it is shown to have a really short and easy proof? Let C denote any closed unbounded subset of the ...
3
votes
3answers
286 views

Embedding Theorem for topological spaces, and in general

There are many examples throughout mathematics of abstracting the formal properties of a "familiar" structure, but then having a theorem stating that all models of the abstract axioms embed into one ...
43
votes
7answers
2k views

How closed-form conjectures are made?

Recently I posted a conjecture at Math.SE: $$\int_0^\infty\ln\frac{J_\mu(x)^2+Y_\mu(x)^2}{J_\nu(x)^2+Y_\nu(x)^2}\mathrm dx\stackrel{?}{=}\frac{\pi}{2}(\mu^2-\nu^2),$$ where $J_\mu(x)$ and $Y_\mu(x)$ ...
40
votes
13answers
3k views

Why don't more mathematicians improve Wikipedia articles?

Wikipedia is a widely used resource for mathematics. For example, there are hundreds of mathematics articles that average over 1000 page views per day. Here is a list of the 500 most popular math ...
2
votes
2answers
258 views

fixedpoint or fixed point or fixed-point

I am unsure which is the right spelling (if there even is a ‘right’ spelling), but maybe native speakers can enlighten me: When should I use fixed point fixed-point fixedpoint when I refer to the ...
4
votes
0answers
94 views

Categorical notions involving $\ell_p$ spaces.

First of all, apologies for a somewhat vague question but let me give a try. We know what the projective objects in the category of Banach spaces are: these are precisely $\ell_1(\Gamma)$-spaces. (One ...
7
votes
3answers
779 views

Importance of separability vs. second-countability

For me second-countability always felt like to be the more important and fundamental concept from general topology than separability. I wonder whether there are any points which can be made for the ...
2
votes
1answer
470 views

Derivation of Bessel functions

I am writing a summary on a work on Fluid Dynamics that develops irrotational flow states that appear to interact amongst each other according to the equations of Electromagnetism ...
4
votes
1answer
335 views

Is it true that Nature promotes products?

I hope this question is not unreasonable. We all know how to take products of numbers, this generalises to a huge amount of different types of products in mathematics. In a certain sense this notion ...
3
votes
0answers
176 views

Is it difficult to prove that nature is chaotic?

If we have a Markov coding or another symbolic description of a dynamical system it is usually easy to prove that the system is chaotic (in the sense of of Li-York, Devaney, positive entropy of what ...
0
votes
1answer
283 views

Do you set a one or two commas when using \mapsto?

I am currently revising a paper and I am completely confused about the commas. Is it correct English to write 1) "The canonical map $X \to Y$, $x \mapsto f(x)$, is injective." or is it 2) "The ...
58
votes
24answers
5k 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
1answer
311 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. ...
4
votes
1answer
230 views

Alexandrov angles in Riemannian manifolds

Dear all, I am teaching a course in Riemannian geometry, and I would like to prove some comparison theorems in the next lessons, building on the well-known theory of Jacobi fields, and of Rauch ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

motivating geometric representation theory

I am wondering if there is a good motivation for geometric representation theory from within the questions of classical representation theory. In other words, I'd be curious to see something using ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Intuitionistic logic as quantization of classical logic?

A classically trained mathematician is more likely to be familiar (at least anecdotally) with an area of mathematical physics such as deformation quantization than with Intuitionistic logic. It is ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

What does a mathematician expect from mathematics education? [closed]

Consider that my question is not a personal and/or subjective question. Perhaps, you have hired a mathematics educator in your department and you are interested in finding a way to communicate with ...
2
votes
2answers
240 views

Stronger theorem not resulting from proof analysis

Suppose that we proved $\varphi$ from a theory $T$. Often we ask whether or not we could have proved $\varphi$ with a weaker theory, to find out we usually analyze the proof and try to figure out ...
3
votes
2answers
209 views

Equivalent definitions of ample bundles

M. Atiyah in "VECTOR BUNDLES OVER AN ELLIPTIC CURVE" defined ample line bundle $E$ on $X$ as satisfying the following conditions: Canonical map $H^0(X, E)\to E_x$ is surjective for any $x\in X$. ...
28
votes
13answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
649 views

Age of Stochasticity?

One user on MSE made an interesting question, which was unanswered so I suggested him to post it here but he refused for personal reasons and said I could ask it here. The question is this: Today ...
7
votes
7answers
916 views

Gelfand representation and functional calculus applications beyond Functional Analysis

I think it is fair to say that the fields of Operator Algebras, Operator Theory, and Banach Algebras rely on Gelfand representation and functional calculus in a crucial way. I am curious about ...
4
votes
5answers
383 views

What is “Data” involved in a mathematical construction?

What exactly do mathematicians mean when they refer to "the data" involved in a construction? I've encountered this many times and I can usually figure out what's going on, but I am curious about the ...
3
votes
1answer
398 views

The average number of people that can sit on a bench of a given length.

Let me explain what I mean: The width of the average person varies, perhaps with a normal distribution. Given a specific variance, how many people (on average) can sit side-by-side on a bench of a ...
9
votes
3answers
784 views

Is there an observer dependent mathematics? [closed]

Is there any field of mathematics that deals with the role of the observer? E.g., some formulation in which a set is changed, in some unspecified way, when it is observed? Or maybe some philosophy of ...
3
votes
1answer
596 views

The shortest mathematical paper [duplicate]

I was looking at the paper Zum Hilbertschen Nullstellensatz [1] and wondered if there was a shorter mathematical paper than this one. A colleague of mine rumored about a number-theoretic paper where ...
13
votes
1answer
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

How to refer to a theorem that you have shown to be wrong

I am writing a paper about a flaw that I found in a published paper. There, the statement is called “Theorem 2”. In my paper, I am reproducing the other paper’s definitions, and steps leading towards ...