Questions that are about research in mathematics, or about the job of a research mathematician, without being mathematical problems or statements in the strictest sense. In other words, questions that can be answered without making computations or applying theorems and axioms.

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1
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1answer
93 views

Convention on Clifford Product

When studying the Clifford Algebra associated to some $(V,Q)$, one finds two basic identities differing by a sign: $vv=Q(v)$ (see, for instance, Wikipedia) $vv=-Q(v)$ (see, for instance, MathWorld ...
65
votes
10answers
7k views

Have you solved problems in your sleep?

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 ...
104
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18answers
10k views

How does one justify funding for mathematics research?

G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology provides an answer as to why one would do mathematics, but I'm unable to find an answer as to why mathematics deserves public funding. Mathematics can be ...
1
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0answers
168 views

In what language do you think when doing mathemematics? [on hold]

Today, nearly all important papers are written in English. People whose mother tongue is not English nevertheless have to learn English if they want to be a mathematician. My question concerns these ...
4
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0answers
73 views

Is there a name for groups of the form $Sp(1)^n$?

A (compact) torus is a Lie group isomorphic to the product of finitely many circles: $T^n = S^1 \times \cdots \times S^1$. Such groups are extremely important in Lie theory, Differential Geometry, ...
11
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1answer
230 views

Multiplicative infinitesimals in q-analogs?

Risking to be downvoted, here is a very lightweight question. In various fields - say, algebraic geometry, nonstandard analysis, synthetic differential geometry - infinitely small quantities, i. e. ...
5
votes
1answer
233 views

Intuitive descriptions of some large cardinals

I was trying to formulate intuitive descriptions of some large cardinals. Roughly something equivalent to "A manifold is an object which looks like patches of $R^n$ glued together". Not perfectly ...
37
votes
8answers
5k views

Getting nervous refereeing a paper

I am refereeing my first paper and I'm quite excited! But inexperienced and I would like to ask an advice to the Maths Community of MO. Let me tell you that I have already read Refereeing a Paper, but ...
19
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18answers
8k views

What are some applications of other fields to mathematics?

It is commonplace to consider applications of mathematics to other fields, especially the exact sciences. But what I would like to know about is the converse topic, namely: What are some ...
121
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81answers
96k views

Do good math jokes exist? [closed]

Have a good joke? Share. I know this is subjective, but the principle "should be of interest to mathematicians" trumps. (I hope.)
1
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1answer
345 views

Doing graph theory after a thesis in pure mathematics [closed]

I've just went through the 1st year of my PhD in France, it is related to Floer Homology. I didn't know what it was really about at that time, I chosed this subject because I thought it would combine ...
67
votes
8answers
11k views

How do you not forget old math?

I am trying to not forget my old math. I finished my PhD in real algebraic geometry a few years ago and then switched to the industry for financial reasons. Now I get the feeling that I want to do a ...
3
votes
0answers
143 views

Topology on $\mathcal{C}(X,Y)$ to work with homotopy

We know that the compact open topology on $\mathcal{C}(X,Y)$ is a good choice for topology on the set of continuous maps, but this seems really efficient, both naively and with respect to existence of ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Felix Klein on mean value theorem and infinitesimals

This is a reference request prompted by some intriguing comments made by Felix Klein. In 1908, Felix Klein formulated a criterion of what it would take for a theory of infinitesimals to be ...
0
votes
0answers
22 views

Publishing in math journals without having an adviser [migrated]

Is it possible publishing original work in math research without having an adviser? I had some thought of matrix multiplication which I posted in this forum which wasn't welcomed that well, I plan to ...
4
votes
2answers
423 views

How to find volunteer reviewers?

I am currently in a little dilemma about publishing a result related to general matching. The dilemma is, that I am not associated to any research institute and thus do not have contact to ...
5
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5answers
553 views

Important results with one or more than one proof [closed]

Can you give examples of deep, important results that have only one known proof, and not just because the first proof is fairly recent, or because not many people really cared to think about it? How ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

best known bounds for spectral radius [closed]

There are many bounds for the spectral radius of graphs in terms of no. of vertices, maximum degree, chromatic number etc. I wish to know till date what are the best lower and upper bound for the ...
132
votes
44answers
77k views

Magic trick based on deep mathematics

I am interested in magic tricks whose explanation requires deep mathematics. The trick should be one that would actually appeal to a layman. An example is the following: the magician asks Alice to ...
141
votes
29answers
33k views

Examples of unexpected mathematical images

I try to generate a lot of examples in my research to get a better feel for what I am doing. Sometimes, I generate a plot, or a figure, that really surprises me, and makes my research take an ...
144
votes
136answers
31k views

Fundamental Examples

It is not unusual that a single example or a very few shape an entire mathematical discipline. Can you give examples for such examples? (One example, or few, per post, please) I'd love to learn about ...
51
votes
47answers
18k 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 ...
106
votes
72answers
16k views

Most helpful math resources on the web

What are really helpful math resources out there on the web? Please don't only post a link but a short description of what it does and why it is helpful. Please only one resource per answer and let ...
82
votes
8answers
9k views

Mistakes in mathematics, false illusions about conjectures

Since long time ago I have been thinking in two problems that I have not been able to solve. It seems that one of them was recently solved. I have been thinking a lot about the motivation and its ...
134
votes
28answers
57k views

Intuitive crutches for higher dimensional thinking

I once heard a joke (not a great one I'll admit...) about higher dimensional thinking that went as follows- An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are discussing how to visualise four ...
8
votes
2answers
506 views

Are there any organized websites for seminar/conference videos?

These days, there are many conference centers and universities recording seminars and conference talks and make them available on the web. Some examples: http://www.fields.utoronto.ca/video-archive ...
3
votes
2answers
464 views

Math and social commitment [closed]

I am a master's student and am looking for ways that link a certain social commitment with serious math. Since I have not found such an overview yet and in order to raise public awareness of such ...
0
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0answers
93 views

Does the method below provide any advantages?

I completed course intro to numerical method and lately interested and trying to find special way to solve this ODE.I have try and ask in math exchange stack but do not get any respond so decided to ...
113
votes
53answers
58k views

Interesting mathematical documentaries

I am looking for mathematical documentaries, both technical and non-technical. They should be "interesting" in that they present either actual mathematics, mathematicians or history of mathematics. I ...
10
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1answer
377 views

The geometric median of a solid triangle

Let $\Omega\subset \mathbb R^n$ be a compact subset of dimension $n$. Define the geometric median on $\Omega$ as the point $m_{\Omega}\in \mathbb R^n$ such that the integral $\int_{\Omega}|x-m_{\Omega}...
64
votes
59answers
15k views

Pseudonyms of famous mathematicians

Many mathematicians know that Lewis Carroll was quite a good mathematician, who wrote about logic (paradoxes) and determinants. He found an expansion formula, which bears his real name (Charles ...
11
votes
1answer
252 views

Digital physics and “Gandy-like” machines

Various physicists, famously John Wheeler, have asserted that physical information is the central object of study in physics, in the sense that an object or concept is "physically meaningful" if it ...
7
votes
1answer
768 views

Should I quit the PhD? [closed]

I am not sure whether this is the right place to post this question. I am at the end of my seventh year. I won't have funding neither from my department nor from my advisor next year and I do not ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it usual for a referee to heed updated versions on arxiv?

I've put a paper on arxiv one year ago and I've submitted the version 6 to a journal seven months ago. During these last seven months, I've given several talks about this work, which led me to ...
7
votes
0answers
241 views

Partial differential equations outside of academia [closed]

I've seen a number of career/jobs questions on mathoverflow before, so I thought I would ask. Please excuse me if this isn't the best place for this specific question. Lately I've been really ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What are examples of theorems which were once “valid”, then became “invalid” as standard definitions shifted?

That is, results established by correct proofs within some framework, yet the manner in which their author or the general mathematical community at the time would describe these results would, in ...
154
votes
67answers
53k views

Awfully sophisticated proof for simple facts [closed]

It is sometimes the case that one can produce proofs of simple facts that are of disproportionate sophistication which, however, do not involve any circularity. For example, (I think) I gave an ...
1
vote
0answers
55 views

Covering rough boundaries of closed sets in manifolds by charts

This question is a little vague, I'm afraid, because I'm not sure I expect there to be a complete answer; but there should be some sort of situations where it is possible. Consider a Riemannian ...
10
votes
1answer
816 views

What is a field [Körper] really?

The notion of a field (a commutative ring $R$ with $0\neq 1$ and $R^\times=R-\{0\}$) seems to fit uncomfortably into modern algebra. To see what I mean, consider the following statements: The ...
20
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
52
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it possible to have a research career while checking the proof of every theorem that you cite?

A colleague raised the above question with me; more precisely he said: Suppose that a mathematician were resolved not to publish any theorems unless they had checked the proof of every theorem ...
4
votes
1answer
79 views

Terminology: jointly completely bounded?

This question has a subjective component but I would like answers that try to stick to concrete observable facts, such as which papers use which terminology. However, the informed impressions of those ...
8
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6answers
24k views

What is a satisfactory way to format definitions in Latex?

There are several ways one may format a definition in latex, but each has their problems. Use the amsthm package, and the usual style for theorems. This will result in everything italicized. It is ...
-4
votes
1answer
284 views

Proof of formula for $\pi$ [closed]

The number $\pi$ can be expressed as $\pi=\lim_{n\to\infty} \frac{n\sqrt[n]{-1}-n}{\sqrt{-1}}$ or more poetically $\pi=\frac{\infty\sqrt[\infty]{-1}-\infty}{\sqrt{-1}}$. Here we choose the principal ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are they called Spherical Varieties?

My understanding is if you have a homogeneous space $X = G/H$ for a reductive group $G$ and $X$ is normal and has an open $B$-orbit, for a Borel subgroup $B$ then you call $X$ spherical. Someone ...
3
votes
4answers
676 views

Softwares for drawing hyperbolic surfaces , closed, with boundaries or with punctures ?

In a paper I am in the process of writing in LaTeX, I need to draw and incorporate some diagrams of hyperbolic surfaces in my LaTeX document. Is there any software I can use to draw hyperbolic ...
62
votes
25answers
5k views

What could be some potentially useful mathematical databases?

This is a soft question but it's not meant as a big-list question. I have recently been asked whether I want to provide feedback at the pre-beta stage on a forthcoming website that will provide a ...
154
votes
11answers
46k views

Have any long-suspected irrational numbers turned out to be rational?

The history of proving numbers irrational is full of interesting stories, from the ancient proofs for $\sqrt{2}$, to Lambert's irrationality proof for $\pi$, to Roger Apéry's surprise demonstration ...
-4
votes
2answers
189 views

If mathematics is logic and intuition, then [closed]

I am just wondering why Mathematics is often defined as The study of Structures, Logic and Numbers which I can concur with but still retain various questions in mind. I am a postgraduate student of ...
30
votes
8answers
4k views

Ubiquity of the push-pull formula

The push-pull formula appears in several different incarnations. There are, at least, the following: 1) If $f \colon X \to Y$ is a continous map, then for sheaves $\mathcal{F}$ on $X$ and $\mathcal{G}...