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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

48
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the status of the Gauss Circle Problem?

For $r > 0$, let $L(r) = \# \{ (x,y) \in \mathbb{Z}^2 \ | \ x^2 + y^2 \leq r^2\}$ be the number of lattice points lying on or inside the standard circle of radius $r$. It is easy to see that $L(r) ...
40
votes
6answers
11k views

Best tablet computer for mathematics [closed]

I'm not sure if this is completely appropriate, but I thought I'd ask here. I'm in the market for a tablet computer. Unfortunately, my (mathematical) needs are very different from the needs of the ...
35
votes
37answers
30k 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 ...
35
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the simplest, most elementary proof that a particular number is transcendental?

I teach, among many other things, a class of wonderful and inquisitive 7th graders. We've recently been studying and discussing various number systems (N, Z, Q, R, C, algebraic numbers, and even ...
35
votes
2answers
1k views

Moving one family of commuting self-adjoint operators to another without losing commutativity on the way

This is actually not a question of mine, so I'll be short on motivation and say nothing beyond that if this were true, a few fancy harmonic analysis techniques that a colleague of mine used in proving ...
34
votes
8answers
3k views

The shortest path in first passage percolation

Consider a square planar grid. (The vertices are pair of points in the plane with integer coordinates and two vertices are adjacent if they agree in one coordinate and differ by one in the other.) ...
33
votes
1answer
1k views

Mr. G.P.K.'s questions [closed]

WARNING: An acquaintance of mine, Mr.Goosepond Prhklstr Kratchinabritchisitch, has requested permission to post his questions under my username. When I asked him why he didn't do it under his own ...
31
votes
5answers
2k views

Can pure mathematics harness citizen science?

Having just finished Michael Nielsen's book "Reinventing Discovery", I find myself wondering if there are ways that pure mathematics research can engage the public in the way that GalaxyZoo or Foldit ...
31
votes
2answers
2k views

Gently falling functions

I wonder if it is possible to characterize the class of gently falling functions, which I would like to define as follows. Let $g(x)$ be a $C^2$ function defined on an interval $R \subseteq ...
31
votes
0answers
1k views

Two-convexity ⇒ Lefschetz?

Assume that $\Omega$ is an open simply connected set in $\mathbb R^n$ (two-convexity) if 3 faces of a 3-simplex belong to $\Omega$ then whole simplex in $\Omega$. Is it true that any component of ...
29
votes
9answers
3k views

Covering maps in real life that can be demonstrated to students

Edit: I've really enjoyed everyone's examples (especially the pictures!), but I was mostly looking for a general theorem. For instance, a similar statement to mine is, Can the mapping cylinder of ...
25
votes
14answers
3k views

Making sure that you have comprehended a concept

Hi, I have a question that I've been thinking about for a long time. How can you assure yourself that you've fully comprehended a concept or the true meaning of a theorem in mathematics? I mean how ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a finite family of functions such that the max of any two functions can be dominated by a third?

Is it true that for every $t$ there is an $n$ and there exists a finite function family, $\cal F$, whose members are from $[n] \to \mathbb N$ (taking all different values) and for any $f_1, \ldots, ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

Euler characteristic and universal cover

Let $M$ be a compact manifold, let $\tilde{M}$ be its universal cover, and suppose that the Euler characteristic $\chi(\tilde{M})=0$. My question is: does this imply that $\chi(M)=0$? This is clear if ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do we use $\epsilon$ and $\delta$?

My understanding (from a talk by Rob Bradley) is that Cauchy is responsible for the now-standard $\epsilon{-}\delta$ formulation of calculus, introduced in his 1821 Cours d’analyse. Although perhaps ...
22
votes
16answers
3k views

functions satisfying “one-one iff onto”

Hello Everybody. I need some more examples for the following really interesting phenomenon: A function from the class ... is one-one iff it is onto. Some ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Visualizing how Cech cohomology detects holes

I think it's pretty intuitive how singular/simplicial cohomology detects "holes" in a space. How can we directly visualize how and in what sense the Cech cohomology of a cover does this? In ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Proving non-existence of solutions to $3^n-2^m=t$ without using congruences

I made a passing comment under Max Alekseyev's cute answer to this question and Pete Clark suggested I raise it explicitly as a different question. I cannot give any motivation for it however---it was ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

Red-blue alternating paths

Suppose we have two simple graphs on the same vertex set. We will call one of them red, the other blue. Suppose that for $i=1,..,k$ we have $deg (v_i)\ge i$ in both graphs, where ...
20
votes
11answers
5k views

The role of the mean value theorem (MVT) in first-year calculus.

Should the mean value theorem be taught in first-year calculus? Most calculus textbooks present the MVT just before the section that says that if $f'>0$ on an interval then $f$ increases on that ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the L-function version of quadratic reciprocity?

Quadratic reciprocity theorems states that for two different odd prime p and q, we have (p/q)(q/p)=(-1)^(p-1)(q-1)/4. What is the statement of this theorem in L-function?
20
votes
6answers
2k views

Formal consequences of Riemann-Roch (multiple answers welcome)

This question aims to pin down what Riemann-Roch can tell us about a divisor on a curve, without any "geometric thinking". It can be annoying to wonder if there is some clever trick you're missing ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Generalizations of “standard” calculus

We have the usual analogy between infinitesimal calculus (integrals and derivatives) and finite calculus (sums and forward differences), and also the generalization of infinitesimal calculus to ...
18
votes
9answers
5k views

How to motivate and present epsilon-delta proofs to undergraduates?

This would seem to be a common question, but I am surprised not to see it already asked and answered on MO! I am teaching an undergraduate course, and I want to teach them to construct basic ...
18
votes
13answers
3k views

Do you find your students are less competent in basic algebra and arithmetic, and, if so, do you believe that this is due to overuse of calculators at an early level? [closed]

So first I gave my class the quiz problem: Compute $$\lim_{h\rightarrow 0} \frac{\frac{1}{3+h} - \frac{1}{3}}{h}.$$ Upon finding that they could not do that (no real surprize) I asked them to compute ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

The “ds” which appears in an integral with respect to arclength is not a 1-form. What is it?

The only reasonable way to interpret "$ds$" as a functional on tangent vectors has to be that it takes a tangent vector and spits out its length, but this is not linear. So $ds$ is not a 1-form. It ...
18
votes
0answers
590 views

Does $\binom{2n}{n} \equiv 2 \pmod p$ ever hold?

Well, the title does not tell the whole story; the complete question is: Are there any primes of the form $p=2n(n-1)+1$, with integer $n\ge 1$, such that $$ \binom{2n}{n} \equiv 2\pmod p ? $$ ...
17
votes
8answers
10k views

Interesting Applications of the Classical Stokes Theorem?

When students learn multivariable calculus they're typically barraged with a collection of examples of the type "given surface X with boundary curve Y, evaluate the line integral of a vector field Y ...
16
votes
6answers
7k views

Angle Maximizing the Distance of a Projectile

It is well-known that to maximize the horizontal distance traveled by a projectile fired from the ground at a given speed, one should fire it at a $45^\circ$ angle. What's less-known, though not too ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Homological algebra and calculus (as in Newton)

This question reminded me of a possibly stupid idea that I had a while back. On page 2 of this paper, while discussing Euclid's axioms of plane geometry and spatial geometry, Manin makes an extremely ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

There is mathematics behind the 1989 Tour de France !

The $1989$ Tour was won by Greg Lemond (USA, $1961$ - ), who beat Laurent Fignon (France, $1960$ - $2010$) by $8''$. Yes, eight seconds! The closest tour in history. Let me recall a few rules ...
16
votes
1answer
501 views

Question about product topology

Suppose $S\subset\mathbb{R}$ is dense without interior point, and for every open interval $I,J\subset\mathbb{R}$, $I\cap S$ is homeomorphic to $J\cap S$. Is $S\times S$ homeomorphic to $S$? By Luzin ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Where to publish a paper on the Mafia game?

I wrote a research paper "A mathematical model of the Mafia game" (arXiv:1009.1031 [math.PR]). However, I do not know where to publish it. As an undergraduate studying majorly physics, I have little ...
15
votes
6answers
5k views

What's the notation for a function restricted to a subset of the codomain?

Suppose I have a function f : A → B between two sets A and B. (The same question applies to group homomorphisms, continuous maps between topological spaces, etc. But for simpicity let's restrict ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Model category structure on Set without axiom of choice

There is a model category structure on Set in which the cofibrations are the monomorphisms, the fibrations are maps which are either epimorphisms or have empty domain, and the weak equivalences are ...
15
votes
0answers
791 views

Optimal Monotone Families for the Discrete Isoperimetric Inequality

Background: the Discrete Isoperimetric Inequality Start with a set X={1,2,...,n} of n elements and the family $2^X$ of all subsets of X. For a real number p between zero and one, we consider a ...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Characterizing visual proofs

``Proofs without words'' is a popular column in the Mathematics magazine. Question: What would be a nice way to characterize which assertions have such visual proofs? What definitions would one ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Probability of a Point on a Unit Sphere lying within a Cube

Suppose we have a (n-1 dimensional) Unit Sphere centered at the origin: $$ \sum_{i=1}^{n}{x_i}^2 = 1$$ What is the probability that a randomly selected point on the sphere, $ (x_1,x_2,x_3,...,x_n)$, ...
14
votes
2answers
593 views

Curve integral of exponent of superharmonic function.

Let $\phi$ be a real smooth superharmonic function on unit disc $D$ in $\mathbb C$; i.e. $\triangle \phi\le 0$. Then there is a curve $\gamma$ from the center of $D$ to its boundary such that ...
13
votes
3answers
582 views

Recognizing the 4-sphere and the Adjan--Rabin theorem

The problem of recognizing the standard $S^n$ is the following: Given some simplicial complex $M$ with rational vertices representing a closed manifold, can one decide (in finite time) if $M$ is ...
13
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
13
votes
0answers
513 views

Codimension Two Embeddings in Goodwillie-Weiss Manifold Calculus, and the Difficulty of Fundamental Groups

In manifold calculus, there are various analyticity estimates which run into trouble for codimension two embeddings. For instance, the functor $\operatorname{Emb}(M,N)$ is analytic in $M$ if $\dim M ...
12
votes
13answers
2k views

Applications of connectedness

In an «advanced calculus» course, I am talking tomorrow about connectedness (in the context of metric spaces, including notably the real line). What are nice examples of applications of the idea ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

What is $\sum (x+\mathbb{Z})^{-2}$?

This is a simple question, but its been bugging me. Define the function $\gamma$ on $\mathbb{R}\backslash \mathbb{Z}$ by $$\gamma(x):=\sum_{i\in \mathbb{Z}}\frac{1}{(x+i)^2}$$ The sum converges ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Coincidences amongst classifying spaces and Eilenberg Mac-Lane spaces

Given that $$\mathbb{R}P^{\infty} = B O(1) = K(\widehat{O(1)}, 1)$$ $$\mathbb{C} P^{\infty} = B U(1) = K( \widehat{U(1)}, 2)$$ is there any way to make sense of $$\mathbb{H}P^{\infty} = B Sp(1)$$ in a ...
12
votes
2answers
629 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
906 views

Hopf Algebra for a physicist

Hello, for my bachelor's thesis I need to understand the Hopf Algebra of Feynman Diagrams. As I have only litte knowledge in Algebra by now I wanted to ask where I could start and what preknowledge I ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Anything going on for a mathematician stuck at New York?

First of all, apologies for the really non-standard question/announcement. I know this is not what MO was intended for, but in this situation it is the easiest way to reach (perhaps) the right person. ...
12
votes
1answer
364 views

Permanent of a matrix of odd integers

It is clear that the permanent of an $n\times n$ matrix which entries are odd integers, is an even number, as it is the sum of $n!$ odd numbers. I am interested in finding the highest power of $2$ ...