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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64
votes
58answers
14k 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
190 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
607 views

Should I quit the PhD? [on hold]

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 ...
23
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
226 views

Partial differential equations outside of academia [on hold]

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 ...
153
votes
67answers
52k 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
44 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 ...
125
votes
27answers
54k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
691 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 ...
-4
votes
0answers
34 views

Question on logarithm Exponentiation [closed]

I know it's not the best title but I had no idea how to be specific about it. Also sorry if I mess up the Latex syntax :/ Basically what I'm looking for is a rule that states how [log^2(a^{f(x)})] ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
70 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
votes
6answers
23k 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
277 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 ...
17
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 ...
99
votes
70answers
15k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
670 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 ...
153
votes
11answers
45k 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 ...
63
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 ...
-4
votes
2answers
180 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 ...
29
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 ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Adapting arguments and plagiarism

I'm currently working on my PhD thesis. I have several suggested problems to work on, some of them are very similar to some problems that my advisor have worked before and published already, either in ...
9
votes
0answers
300 views

Why do we study symplectic geometry? [closed]

What is the motivation behind studying smooth manifolds with a non-degenerate closed two-form? The subject certainly originated from physics, but is there a deeper reason for why it is still an ...
22
votes
24answers
7k views

Is there an image for you that epitomizes mathematics? [closed]

Can you think of an image, whether technical or nontechnical, available for viewing online that says a lot about what you think mathematics or a particular field of mathematics is all about? For ...
3
votes
1answer
180 views

Early examples of problems that are easier in high dimension

In many areas of mathematics, there are problems that admit a natural formulation in any dimension. It often happens that such a problem is easier to solve in dimension $n>k$ as compared to ...
3
votes
1answer
192 views

How to learn concepts of Functional Analysis which are common in PDE

I am a master student and working in PDE area. I am trying to gain deep understanding of some of the concepts in functional analysis which are common tools in PDE research, such as weak*-topology, ...
1
vote
0answers
105 views

Referencing your own research paper on a conference board? [closed]

Is it considered poor etiquette to refer a viewer to a research paper while looking at a conference poster? The paper could be placed on the same table so it is readily accessible.
32
votes
13answers
3k views

What math institutes offer research in pairs/research in teams?

Some math institutes offer programs in which a small number of researchers are enabled to meet at the institute for a week or more. A list seemed as if it could be useful.
12
votes
1answer
534 views

Have Grothendieck's notes in Montpellier already been investigated?

Grothendieck, who passed away on November 13, 2014, left a huge amount (around 20.000 sheets) of personal notes in the University of Montpellier that he thought he was the only one to be able to ...
7
votes
3answers
329 views

Connection between solution for Schrödinger equation and solution for heat equation

It's known, that if you write imaginary unit into a heat equation you'll get time-dependent Schrödinger equation. Recently one guy discovered a connection between solutions for these two equations ...
22
votes
10answers
1k views

Examples of categorical adjunctions in analysis, Lie theory, and differential geometry?

In introductory texts on category theory, it seems like the majority of examples come from algebraic topology, algebra, and logic. Are there any good examples of adjunctions in analysis, Lie theory, ...
42
votes
31answers
7k 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
297 views

Do Peano curves provide a counterargument to Grothendieck's critique?

This question arose in the context of an earlier question on Grothendieck's critique of the traditional foundations of topology. Can the paper Group Invariant Peano Curves by Cannon and Thurston be ...
7
votes
1answer
274 views

What does “game theory” cover and how should it be called?

There seems to be a huge discrepancy in what people refer to when they speak of "game theory". I tend to think of it as including, among other things: Combinatorial game theory dealing with certain ...
81
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

Why should I prefer bundles to (surjective) submersions?

I hope this question isn't too open-ended for MO --- it's not my favorite type of question, but I do think there could be a good answer. I will happily CW the question if commenters want, but I also ...
2
votes
0answers
57 views

What does the square root sign tells us in the wave equation? [closed]

I have been reading the paper on wave equations, and I have some confusion in notations. Consider the initial value problem(IVP)(Wave equation): $\frac{\partial ^2 u } {\partial t^2}(x,t) = ...
113
votes
40answers
11k views

Generalizing a problem to make it easier

One of the many articles on the Tricki that was planned but has never been written was about making it easier to solve a problem by generalizing it (which initially seems paradoxical because if you ...
26
votes
16answers
3k views

What are some examples of narrowly missed discoveries in the history of mathematics?

What are the examples of some mathematicians coming very close to a very promising theory or a correct proof of a big conjecture but not making or missing the last step?
36
votes
5answers
1k views

Undergraduate ODE textbook following Rota

I imagine many people are familiar with the extremely entertaining article "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before I Started Teaching Differential Equations" by Gian-Carlo Rota. (If you're not, do ...
43
votes
5answers
3k views

How do you mentor undergraduate research?

Lets say you had an undergraduate who wanted to do some advanced work and some research, possibly for a thesis, or things like that. There are two slightly more specific groups of questions I have ...
7
votes
2answers
381 views

Famous results about the value of a given limit assuming it exists

Chebyshev got famous showing that if the limit $l:=\lim_{x\to\infty}\frac{\pi(x)}{x/\log x}$ exists, then necessarily $l=1$, constituting a major breakthrough towards a proof of the famous prime ...
7
votes
0answers
273 views

Errata in EGA, collected

There is an extensive list of EGA's errata on the books themselves, but my question is whether new errata, that is those found by various mathematicians after the publication, are collected somewhere. ...
19
votes
8answers
4k views

MathSciNet vs Google Scholar

What are the pros and cons of the MathSciNet database vs Google Scholar? I don't have access to Mathscinet so this question is out of curiosity, and also this question where MathSciNet is used to ...
8
votes
5answers
459 views

Applications of functional analysis beyond analysis(towards algebra, geometry, number theory…) [closed]

So far, We have seen the applications of functional analysis in PDE, probability and many areas in applied mathematics. On the other hand, methods of algebraic topology are introduced to functional ...
29
votes
36answers
4k views

What are some mathematical sculptures?

Either intentionally or unintentionally. Include location and sculptor, if known.
116
votes
39answers
34k views

Most interesting mathematics mistake?

Some mistakes in mathematics made by extremely smart and famous people can eventually lead to interesting developments and theorems, e.g. Poincaré's 3d sphere characterization or the search to prove ...