This tag is to be used only when re-tagging highly(!) off-topic questions where none of the actual tags would make sense; all actual tags the questioner has used are removed and something is needed to have some tag, which is enforced by the software, so this tag is used. However note that this tag ...

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45
votes
29answers
28k views

Why do we teach calculus students the derivative as a limit?

I'm not teaching calculus right now, but I talk to someone who does, and the question that came up is why emphasize the $h \to 0$ definition of a derivative to calculus students? Something a teacher ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Definition of Function

What is authoritative canonical formal definition of function? For example, According to Wolfram MathWorld, $$isafun_1(f)\;\leftrightarrow\; \forall a\in f\;(\exists x\exists y \;\langle x,y\rangle ...
28
votes
37answers
18k views

What is your favorite “strange” function? [closed]

There are many "strange" functions to choose from and the deeper you get involved with math the more you encounter. I consciously don't mention any for reasons of bias. I am just curious what you ...
8
votes
5answers
3k views

If d/dx is an operator, on what does it operate?

If $\frac{d}{dx}$ is a differential operator, what are its inputs? If the answer is "(differentiable) functions" (i.e., variable-agnostic sets of ordered pairs), we have difficulty distinguishing ...
6
votes
7answers
3k views

Freshman's definition of sin(x) ?

I would like to know how you would rigorously introduce the trigonometric funcions ($sin(x)$ and relatives) to first year calculus students. Suppose they have a reasonable definition of $\mathbb{R}$ ...
11
votes
2answers
503 views

Independence of Leibniz rule and locality from other properties of the derivative?

The following is meant to be an axiomatization of differential calculus of a single variable. To avoid complications, let's say that $f$, $g$, $f'$, and $g'$ are smooth functions from $\mathbb{R}$ to ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

The non-traveling mathematician problem

This is a career question. I have just begun a research postdoc position in Southern California. It has been hard, but I've enjoyed teaching my first graduate courses and working on research and ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the derivative of log have a Dirac delta term?

Dirac writes down the following formula on page 61 of his "Principles of quantum mechanics": $\frac{d}{dx}\log x = \frac{1}{x} -i\pi\delta(x)$, see http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1947pqm..book.....D ...
4
votes
2answers
651 views

When does a a rational function have infinitely many integer values for integer inputs?

Consider rational functions $F(x)=P(x)/Q(x)$ with $P(x),Q(x) \in \mathbb{Z}[x]$. I'd like to know when I can expect $F(k) \in \mathbb{Z}$ for infinitely many positive integers $k$. Of course this ...
7
votes
4answers
436 views

Trig functions based on convex curves

Pardon my naivety, but I wonder if much use has been found for trigonometric functions defined in terms of a centrally symmetric convex curve $K$ replacing the circle $C$. For example, here is the ...
3
votes
1answer
359 views

Connecting points on a variety by the image of a nonsingular curve

In Hartshorne's proof of a result of Igusa (see III, 9.13 of Hartshorne) he claims without proof that any two closed points on a variety can be connected by the image of a nonsingular curve, or by a ...