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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-5
votes
0answers
25 views

What is required to draw any conclusion from data [on hold]

If someone gives a set of numbers and ask you to conclude something, it is understood that we cannot tell anything unless we have some more information. The question is what is required mathematically ...
7
votes
0answers
430 views

Define “Mathematics Colloquium”?

I'm now a member of my department's colloquium committee. Our task is to make a great colloquium series. I thought that the first step would be to come up with an appropriate definition of ...
70
votes
52answers
20k views

Which popular games are the most mathematical?

I consider a game to be mathematical if there is interesting mathematics (to a mathematician) involved in the game's structure, optimal strategies, practical strategies, analysis of the game ...
8
votes
2answers
523 views

random category theory

This question is in some sense dual to the one asked in Is there an introduction to probability theory from a structuralist/categorical perspective? since contrary to the OP who asks for references ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is there a connection between enumerative geometry and nonlinear waves?

Recently I encountered in a class the fact that there is a generating function of Gromov--Witten invariants that satisfies the Korteweg--de Vries hierarchy. Let me state the fact more precisely. ...
32
votes
21answers
7k views

Nontrivial question about Fibonacci numbers?

I'm looking for a nontrivial, but not super difficult question concerning Fibonacci numbers. It should be at a level suitable for an undergraduate course. Here is a (not so good) example of the sort ...
8
votes
1answer
303 views

Intuition behind the definition of quantum groups

Being far from the field of quantum groups, I have nevertheless made in the past several (unsuccessful) attempts to understand their definition and basic properties. The goal of this post is to try to ...
-3
votes
0answers
108 views

Have there been attemps to manage the pool of worldwide mathematics students? [closed]

(Foreword: I am well aware that MO is not a blog, and not for argumentative questions. Therefore I have phrased my question in a rather specifically answerable form. If moderators still feel it is ...
45
votes
13answers
7k views

How has modern algebraic geometry affected other areas of math?

I have a friend who is very biased against algebraic geometry altogether. He says it's because it's about polynomials and he hates polynomials. I try to tell him about modern algebraic geometry, ...
6
votes
1answer
337 views

Are reduced residue systems relative primorials an active area of research? If not, why not?

As a math amateur, I am finding the study reduced residue systems relative a primorial a very interesting way to understand the distribution of primes. For example, it is fascinating to me that it is ...
3
votes
3answers
419 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What would an ideal mathematical note-taking/organizer/PIM software look like? [closed]

I'm struggling with this problem for a long time, and I'm sure a lot of you out there are having similar problems too: when studying from a e-textbook I read and annotate in one app and make ...
34
votes
22answers
8k views

Open source mathematical software.

I want some recomendation on which software I should install on my computer, an open source program for general abstract mathematical purposes (as opposed to applied mathematics). I would likely use ...
17
votes
12answers
6k views

How seriously should a graduate student take teaching evaluations?

Pretty much the question in the title. If a grad student gets bad reviews as a TA, how much does that hurt them later? How much do good reviews help? What if the situation is more complex? (For ...
108
votes
15answers
11k views

When and how is it appropriate for an undergraduate to email a professor out of the blue?

This may not be appropriate for MathOverflow, as I haven't seen precedent for this type of question. But the answer is certainly of interest to me, and (I think) would be of interest to many other ...
1
vote
1answer
239 views

Submitting lecture purposal to conferences. (lecture about a thesis) [closed]

I wish to consult with you about something: I have recently given a lecture about my master's Thesis in a local conference organized by my advisor. The subject had a lot to do with algebraic geometry ...
22
votes
0answers
549 views

Good ways to organize old personal mathematical resources

I am wondering how the other Mathematicians organize their old mathematical resources, like calculation drafts, class and seminar notes etc. These old resources may be related to a wide range of ...
2
votes
0answers
122 views

When is it appropriate to name something a 'fundamental lemma'? [closed]

The term 'fundamental lemma' refers to many results in mathematics. I don't know too many results referred to by that name, but I am familiar with, for example, the 'fundamental lemma of sieve theory' ...
67
votes
25answers
24k views

What are the most misleading alternate definitions in taught mathematics?

I suppose this question can be interpreted in two ways. It is often the case that two or more equivalent (but not necessarily semantically equivalent) definitions of the same idea/object are used in ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

Non-mathematician submitting to top maths journal? [closed]

I am an amateur mathematician, and I had an idea which I worked out a bit and sent to an expert. He urged me to write it up for publication. So I did, and put it on arXiv. There were a couple of ...
17
votes
3answers
877 views

Which way for reading the proofs?

I am a master student in mathematics. For me a large part of doing mathematics is thinking about, reading and verifying the proof of theorems that I find them in my field of study. I can do this ...
87
votes
50answers
42k 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
248 views

Have topographs been studied before?

This is my first post on MO so I hope this question is suitable. I have quite a few definitions which I will need to state before my questions at the end of this post. Please let me know if anything ...
66
votes
11answers
5k views

Are there any good websites for hosting discussions of mathematical papers?

I was wondering if there are any websites out there which systematically provide space for the discussion of mathematics articles (particularly those on the arXiv, though not necessarily just ...
129
votes
132answers
29k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Category theory and model theory as “natural” counterparts

I am aware of the profound discussion of the relationship between category theory and model theory (e.g. at The n-Category Café) but do wonder why category theory (CT) is not opposed to model theory ...
62
votes
34answers
5k views

books well-motivated with explicit examples

It is ultimately a matter of personal taste, but I prefer to see a long explicit example, before jumping into the usual definition-theorem path (hopefully I am not the only one here). My problem is ...
10
votes
3answers
410 views

Mathematical difference between entropy and energy

I have a rather soft question. Let's assume that we consider the heat equation posed in $S^1$: $$ \partial_t u=\partial_x^2u. $$ It is well known that if we define the functionals $$ ...
105
votes
69answers
21k views

Which math paper maximizes the ratio (importance)/(length)?

My vote would be Milnor's 7-page paper "On manifolds homeomorphic to the 7-sphere", in Vol. 64 of Annals of Math. For those who have not read it, he explicitly constructs smooth 7-manifolds which are ...
7
votes
2answers
448 views

Understanding Faltings's Theorem

I am soon to become a graduate student and so I started a personal project; I want to understand Faltings's proof of the Mordell conjecture. I want to get into arithmetic geometry (since I always ...
82
votes
39answers
27k 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. Poincare's 3d sphere charaterization or the search to prove ...
11
votes
4answers
874 views

“Epicycles” (Ptolemy style) in math theory?

By analogy: The epicycles of Ptolemy explained the known facts in the sun system and in this sense were not "wrong". But they distracted from a better insight. From another viewpoint, everything fell ...
-6
votes
1answer
226 views

What's the minimum amount of knowledge to start doing research? [closed]

There are cases in which you have too much knowledge of something to do anything interesting ,and cases in which a lack of experience with a problem (and the prejudices about it) helps someone solve ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

number theory which is close to analysis

I have basic training in Fourier and Harmonic analysis. And wanting to enter and work in area of number theory(and which is of some interest for current researcher) which is close to analysis. ...
16
votes
8answers
899 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, ...
41
votes
15answers
5k 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 ...
60
votes
15answers
5k views

Tools for long-distance collaboration

Background In general, I am aware of four and a half methods of long-distance collaboration: Telephone (including voice-chat, VOIP, etc.; anything that is voice based) Text chat (chat room, IM, ...
59
votes
36answers
11k views

Where is number theory used in the rest of mathematics?

Where is number theory used in the rest of mathematics? To put it another way: what interesting questions are there that don't appear to be about number theory, but need number theory in order to ...
113
votes
76answers
37k views

Best online mathematics videos?

I know of two good mathematics videos available online, namely: Sphere inside out (part I and part II) Moebius transformation revealed Do you know of any other good math videos? Share.
87
votes
69answers
14k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
266 views

“Thin film evolution” (Reference request)

Ok this is my first$^*$ question on overflow, my apologies if this is not the right place to ask what follows! I observed the following phenomenon: I put a (vitamin) tablet into water, then after a ...
9
votes
0answers
404 views

What was the answer to this paradox before Cantor? [migrated]

I do not remember the name/source of this paradox,but I remember I have discussed this with mathematicians and non mathematicians at least 5 times. It goes like this: "Every point of a line has ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Philosophical arguments in defense (or against) large cardinals

The question is essentially what is asked in the title. I split it into two parts (A) (Arguments supporting the existence of large cardinals) What are the main philosophical arguments in defense ...
65
votes
24answers
7k 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 ...
46
votes
17answers
10k views

Parodies of abstruse mathematical writing

Perhaps under the influence of a recent question on perverse sheaves, in conjunction with the impending $\pi$-day (3/14/15 at 9:26:53), I recalled a long-ago parody of abstruse mathematical language ...
3
votes
1answer
153 views

Two equivalent descriptions of a physical system yielding a non-trivial mathematical formula

First I would like to admit that this question may not be entirely appropriate for this site, but I will give it a go none the less. One often hears stories about how string dualities lead to highly ...
22
votes
8answers
3k views

Does your dissertation matter for industry research jobs?

Suppose Mr A. is a graduate student who, for some reason, does not want to go into teaching or academic research. Mr A. did a Doctoral dissertation, but it is in a narrow area. This area is not ...
28
votes
8answers
5k views

Uninteresting questions with interesting answers [closed]

What are best examples of questions in mathematics that are not interesting until one knows the answers, whose answers themselves are what is interesting? The thing that prompts me to post this is ...
34
votes
20answers
6k views

Fun applications of representations of finite groups

Are there some fun applications of the theory of representations of finite groups? I would like to have some examples that could be explained to a student who knows what is a finite group but does not ...
40
votes
20answers
10k views

Interesting Calculus Questions/Exercises

I am in the process of redesigning the calculus course that I have taught five or six times. What I would like to know is if anyone has some really good examples or exercises that I could either do ...