For questions related to teaching mathematics. For questions in Mathematics Education as a scientific discipline there is also the tag mathematics-education.

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Understanding Mathematics [closed]

I don't feel like I understand mathematics until I have an idea of how it was discovered or derived because otherwise it doesn't make sense and it takes along time to do that does that happen to ...
4
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1answer
140 views

How to teach generalizing the induction hypothesis? [closed]

I just finished teaching a class on using proof assistants (in this case, Agda) to write provably correct programs. Reflecting on how it went, the biggest difficulty I noticed the students having was ...
26
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12answers
2k views

Historical (personal) examples of teaching-based research

The phrase "teaching-based research" brings to mind research about teaching, though important, it is not what I mean. Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a better phrase, thus please bear with me ...
51
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2answers
1k views

History of $\frac d{dt}\tan^{-1}(t)=\frac 1{1+t^2}$

Let $\theta = \tan^{-1}(t)$. Nowadays it is taught: 1º that $$ \frac{d\theta}{dt} = \frac 1{dt\,/\,d\theta} = \frac 1{1+t^2}, \tag1 $$ 2º that, via the fundamental theorem of calculus, this is ...
11
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3answers
447 views

Why does inconstructibility of $\sqrt[3]{2}$ imply impossibility of cube doubling? [closed]

In this question "constructing" and "doubling" is meant in the compass-and-straightedge sense. On my desk I have five Basic Algebra texts treating constructability in the plane $\mathbb{C}$ or ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Which universities teach true infinitesimal calculus? [closed]

My colleague and I are currently teaching "true infinitesimal calculus" (TIC), in the sense of calculus with infinitesimals, to a class of about 120 freshmen at our university, based on the book by ...
11
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2answers
682 views

Teaching stochastic calculus to students who know no measure theory (or PDE, or…)

I've got quite a challenge as my teaching assignment for the next Fall (not that I want to get rid of it, quite the contrary, but I still feel like asking for advice won't hurt :-)). I'm to teach the ...
12
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1answer
426 views

A funny factorization of the Jacobian coming from the lines on the Fermat cubic

Here is something which came up in my algebraic geometry class, and I'm wondering if it has a deeper explanation. Let $F(w,x,y,z) = w^3+x^3+y^3+z^3$ and let $X$ be the cubic surface in $\mathbb{P}^3$ ...
6
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0answers
255 views

Total spaces of tangent/cotangent bundles in a course where all varieties are quasi-projective

$\def\PP{\mathbb{P}}$In a course where all varieties are quasi-projective (as in Shafarevich Volume I), I am trying to figure out whether I can justify talking about the total spaces of the tangent ...
17
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19answers
4k views

Math books for advanced high school students

I'm working in a program for teaching a group of students selected in a Olympiad competition. The program is aimed to acquaint the students with the diverse aspects of higher mathematics in a way ...
18
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2answers
897 views

Teaching the fundamental group via everyday examples

This question is a "prequel" to a similar question about homology. Both questions were inspired by seeing a talk, by Tadashi Tokieda, about the interesting physics that appears in toys. What ...
6
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0answers
235 views

Lower semicontinuity of naive fiber size

I would like to present the following result in my algebraic geometry class, but it is seeming much harder than I would expect. Since my class is working with closed points over an algebraically ...
1
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2answers
264 views

Simple yet interesting applications of Calculus or Linear Algebra to Economics [closed]

This is essentially a vast generalization of my previous question: Examples of separable ordinary differential equations in economics I'm giving a talk to college-level math teachers on some ...
21
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7answers
2k views

Conceptual algebraic proof that Grassmannian is closed in Plucker embedding

I'm planning lectures for my intro algebraic geometry course, and I noted something awkward that is coming up. We're starting projective varieties soon. Of course, we'll prove that projective maps are ...
5
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1answer
787 views

Can one live without actual infinity? [closed]

The title of this question is the exact title of one of the sections of a book written by Alexandre Borovik: Mathematics under the Microscope. Under the title, we read: How should we approach the ...
5
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1answer
262 views

Where can I find resources for creating a mathematics “bridge course”?

My department is in the very early stages of developing a "bridge course" or "introduction to proofs" course, motivated by our lower-level courses not currently doing a good job of preparing our ...
6
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3answers
820 views

An application of Maschke's theorem

I've been teaching some elementary representation theory to undergraduates, and want to provide applications of Maschke's theorem to complex group algebras to present in class. In particular, I'd like ...
2
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0answers
73 views

Are injective modules flabby on basic open sets?

In order to give a simple proof of a basic fact about quasi-coherent modules (see below), I'm interested in knowing whether the following statement holds: Statement: If $A$ is a commutative ring and ...
3
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4answers
464 views

Understanding reasons for best constants in inequalities

Why, in functional analysis, is so important to calculate best constant in an embedding inequality? Cross-posted from ...
0
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1answer
389 views

Teaching profession:Differential Equations and Mean Value Theorems

Usually I teach Algebra,Algebra and Geometyry, Topology, at various University levels. This semester (Spring 2014) I have to teach Differential Equations to University second year students (4th ...
3
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3answers
323 views

undergraduate handle decomposition. Reference

As the title says, I'm searching for a nice textbook for introducing the theory of handle decomposition of manifolds to undergraduate students.
14
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2answers
752 views

How useful/pervasive are differential forms in surface theory?

Every year I teach an introductory class on the differential geometry of surfaces, including numerical aspects (e.g., how to solve PDEs on surfaces). Historically this class has included an ...
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5answers
608 views

Easy to state applications of dimension theory in algebraic geometry

Dimension theory is quite a sophisticated topic (at least for me), it is fully settled in Shafarevich's book on the first 100 pages. Shafarevich gives two nice applications of the theory. 1) A proof ...
2
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3answers
899 views

Assessing effectiveness of (epsilon, delta) definitions [closed]

There is much discussion both in the education community and the mathematics community concerning the challenge of (epsilon, delta) type definitions in calculus and the student reception of them. The ...
5
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1answer
305 views

Not quite adjoint functors

What are standard and/or natural examples of pairs of functors $F:C\leftrightarrows D:G$ and unnatural bijections $\hom_D(Fx,y)\to\hom_C(x,Gy)$ for all $x$ and $y$? Can one do this so that the ...
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15answers
4k views

Teaching homology via everyday examples

What stories, puzzles, games, paradoxes, toys, etc from everyday life are better understood after learning homology theory? To be more precise, I am teaching a short course on homology, from ...
58
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10answers
11k views

Is Euclid dead? [closed]

Apparently Euclid died about 2,300 years ago (actually 2,288 to be more precise), but the title of the question refers to the rallying cry of Dieudonné, "A bas Euclide! Mort aux triangles!" ...
2
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2answers
529 views

Can this informal argument (for the fact that almost all reals in the unit interval are irrational) be saved?

In the textbook from which I am teaching a Discrete Math course, the authors propose randomly generating an infinite sequence of decimal digits $d_1, d_2, \dots$. We are to think of this as the ...
25
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6answers
1k views

Does seeing beyond the course you teach matter? The case of linear algebra and matrices

This question is indeed very important for me. Thus I hope you bear with my subjective explanations for a few minutes. I am an "excellent" lecturer, at least according to course evaluation forms ...
4
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4answers
609 views

Variation on the Sobolev space $H^1_0$

Let $\Omega\subset\mathbb{R}^n$ be a bounded open set, let $$ C^1_0(\overline\Omega) = \{u\in C^1(\Omega)\cap C(\overline\Omega):u|_{\partial\Omega}=0\}, $$ and let $C^1_c(\Omega)$ be the space of ...
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0answers
514 views

Linear Algebra Text Book

In our department we do not like our current linear algebra book and so we would want to find a better book. This is for the first course in linear algebra and the title of the course is Elementary ...
7
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2answers
883 views

How should you respond to a student who asks whether a very nice physical example constitutes a proof? [closed]

"Is this really a proof?" is the exact question e-mailed to me today from an undergraduate mathematics student whom I know as a highly competent student. The one sentence question was accompanied with ...
10
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3answers
590 views

Calculus Teaching: Is it possible or desirable to give a severely abbreviated treatment of series convergence tests?

I will be teaching Calculus 2 this fall at a large U.S. state university. Our incoming students tend to have a limited or inconsistent background, which limits the amount of material we can cover. ...
25
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3answers
2k views

Is “problem solving” a subject to be taught?

I am witnessing a new curriculum change in my country (Iran). It includes the change of all the mathematics textbooks at all grades. The peoples involved has sent me the textbook for seven graders (13 ...
2
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4answers
455 views

Eigenvalues of powers of linear mappings

Let $\tau$ be a linear map on a finite dimensional complex vector space. Clearly, if $\lambda$ is an eigenvalue of $\tau$ then $\lambda^n$ is an eigenvalue of $\tau^n$, for any natural (integer, on ...
24
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3answers
2k views

Nearly all math classes are lecture+problem set based; this seems particularly true at the graduate level. What are some concrete examples of techniques other than the “standard math class” used at the *Graduate* level?

In the fall, I am teaching one undergraduate and one graduate course, and in planning these courses I have been thinking about alternatives to the "standard math class". I have found it much easier ...
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7answers
1k views

Pros and cons of math teaching using smartboards

Currently, there is some talk in my university concerning a change in our lecture rooms from blackboards to smartboards (or other alternatives, such as a smart podium). For that reason, I'm interested ...
16
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2answers
997 views

Can the unsolvability of quintics be seen in the geometry of the icosahedron?

Q1. Is it possible to somehow "see" the unsolvability of quintic polynomials in the $A_5$ symmetries of the icosahedron (or dodecahedron)? Perhaps this is too vague a question. Q2. Are there ...
5
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2answers
1k views

What is the best *general triangle*?

During courses on geometry it is sometimes necessary to draw a triangle on the blackboard that can easily be recognized as a general triangle. It must not be rectangular and must not have two or more ...
0
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1answer
407 views

Sierpinski Triangle and the Chaos Game

The chaos game is a way to construct (an approximation) of Sierpinski triangle. It's clear (using Thales' theorem!) that if we begin with a point on the sierpinski triangle, then we will never leave ...
4
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4answers
566 views

Lecture on Fractals for Middle School Students

I'm going to have a one-hour lecture for middle school students next Monday. It will be about fractals. The students know virtually nothing about this subject. I'll show some fractal images and a few ...
0
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2answers
411 views

Correct definition of the sequence of natural numbers with set theory, but without counting or measuring size [closed]

This question may appear banal, but there seems to be more than meets the eye; a common glitch is to explain numbers by the "size" of sets without saying how to measure or compare the size of sets. ...
4
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3answers
560 views

Higher dimensional Bezout via Hilbert polynomials: a reference

For the purposes of teaching my elementary course in algebraic geometry I am looking for a reference (or notes) that contains a complete proof of a higher-dimensional weak Bezout theorem. I only want ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Research level applications of “row rank = column rank”?

No less an authority than Gilbert Strang frames "row rank equals column rank" (and a couple of other facts) as "The Fundamental Theorem of Linear Algebra." I'd simply like to assemble (for teaching ...
8
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4answers
966 views

“Classical” consequences of Bezout's theorem in dimensions $>2$

By Classical I mean something that could have been found before 1900 (say). A well known consequence of Bezout's theorem for plane curves is Pascal's theorem ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Good examples of random variables whose image is not a measurable set?

Are their simple/natural examples of real-valued Borel-measurable random variables whose image is not a Borel set? Something that occurs "naturally"? I am teaching Doob's lemma (for two real-valued ...
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13answers
2k views

Elementary applications of linear algebra over finite fields

I'm teaching axiomatic linear algebra again this semester. Although the textbooks I'm using do everything over the real or complex numbers, for various reasons I prefer to work over an arbitrary ...
7
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1answer
635 views

Teaching stacks to differential geometry students

Does anyone have any experience teaching stacks over the category of manifolds to students whose background is, say, a semester-long course on manifolds? Does anyone know of any publicly available ...
0
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2answers
257 views

Lines on degree 2n-3 Fermat hypersufaces

It is well known that a generic hypersurface of degree $2n-3$ in $\mathbb CP^n$ has finite number of lines. I would like to ask a couple of questions about lines on Fermat hypersurfaces and their ...
9
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4answers
934 views

Integrating Powers without much Calculus

I'll jump into the question and then back off into qualifications and context Using the definition of a definite integral as the limit of Riemann sums, what is the best way (or the very good ways) ...