For questions related to teaching mathematics. For questions in Mathematics Education as a scientific discipline there is also the tag mathematics-education. Note you may also ask your question on http://matheducators.stackexchange.com/.

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51
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47answers
18k views

An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...
1
vote
1answer
118 views

proof without words for logarithms [closed]

Does anyone know of any PROOF WITHOUT WORDS for logarithmic functions? The only one I've seen in calculus based and I need one for high school math kids in MATH 1,2,3. Any suggestions would be ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Languages beyond enumerable

A language is a set of finite-length strings from some finite alphabet $\Sigma$. It is no loss of generality (for my purposes) to take $\Sigma=\{0,1\}$; so a language is a set of bit-strings. ...
39
votes
8answers
13k views

Collecting proofs that finite multiplicative subgroups of fields are cyclic

I teach elementary number theory and discrete mathematics to students who come with no abstract algebra. I have found proving the key theorem that finite multiplicative subgroups of fields are cyclic ...
44
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 ...
39
votes
9answers
12k views

Is Galois theory necessary (in a basic graduate algebra course)?

By definition, a basic graduate algebra course in a U.S. (or similar) university with a Ph.D. program in mathematics lasts part or all of an academic year and is taken by first (sometimes second) ...
35
votes
13answers
3k views

Applications of the Cayley-Hamilton theorem

The Cayley-Hamilton theorem is usually presented in standard undergraduate courses in linear algebra as an important result. Recall that it says that any square matrix is a "root" of its own ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Endpoints as relative extrema (differences in definition in a freshman calculus course)

I'm currently teaching an applied calculus course for freshmen. The textbook I'm using (Lial, Greenwell, and Ritchey's "Calculus with Applications") defines relative maxima and minima in the usual way ...
8
votes
11answers
1k views

What are fun elementary subjects in probability?

I have to read several lectures on probability or applications of probability for high school students (of high level). There is no necessary part I must lecture, that is, my aim is just advertisement....
21
votes
4answers
919 views

Technical issue in the approach to Lie groups taken in a book

I'm teaching Lie groups and Lie Algebras out of Brian C. Hall's book (Lie Groups, Lie Algebras, and Representations: An Elementary Introduction, Springer), which I've enjoyed using. I'm confused about ...
79
votes
26answers
31k 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 ...
19
votes
22answers
14k views

Textbook recommendations for undergraduate proof-writing class

I am teaching the proof-writing class (for the 3rd time) in the Fall and plan to buck the party line and use a different text than the default Bond and Keane. My parameters are as follows: Logic, ...
24
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
22
votes
10answers
1k views

What (fun) results in graph theory should undergraduates learn?

I have the task of creating a 3rd year undergraduate course in graph theory (in the UK). Essentially the students will have seen minimal discrete math/combinatorics before this course. Since graph ...
26
votes
15answers
7k views

“Homotopy-first” courses in algebraic topology

A first course in algebraic topology, at least the ones I'm familiar with, generally gets students to a point where they can calculate homology right away. Building the theory behind it is generally ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Examples of separable ordinary differential equations in economics

I'm currently teaching an integral calculus course for business students, and we're just about to discuss differential equations. They've worked hard, and I'd like to reward them with some economic ...
24
votes
9answers
12k views

Applications of knot theory

An answer of André Henriques' inspired the following closely related CW question. Parts of the following is extracted from his answer and my comments. I regularly teach a knot theory class. ...
7
votes
5answers
3k views

Advantages of the sequence definition of limits

I will be teaching an introductory analysis course in the coming semester. In it the students will learn about limits of real sequences, and then will learn about limits of functions in terms of ...
10
votes
1answer
482 views

teaching higher algebra

Has anyone ever (successfully or unsuccessfully) taught a course in higher algebra (in the $\infty$-categorical sense)? I'm asking out of curiosity (and also hoping for more resources). The kind ...
7
votes
0answers
252 views

Pedagogical question on Lie groups vs. matrix Lie groups

There are two common approaches taken in introductory texts on Lie groups: studying all Lie groups, or focusing only on matrix Lie groups. The main advantage of the latter approach is that one can ...
224
votes
99answers
37k views

Not especially famous, long-open problems which anyone can understand

Question: I'm asking for a big list of not especially famous, long open problems that anyone can understand. Community wiki, so one problem per answer, please. Motivation: I plan to use this list ...
126
votes
7answers
48k views

Where to buy premium white chalk in the U.S., like they have at RIMS? [closed]

While not a research-level math question, I'm sure this is a question of interest to many research-level mathematicians, whose expertise I seek. At RIMS (in Kyoto) in 2005, they had the best white ...
52
votes
7answers
9k views

Teaching statements for math jobs?

What is the purpose of the "teaching statement" or "statement of teaching philosophy" when applying for jobs, specifically math postdocs? I am applying for jobs, and I need to write one of these ...
42
votes
3answers
3k views

Advice for PhD Supervisors

My first PhD student is having his viva tomorrow. Hence, I began contemplating a bit about the whole process of supervising. One thing I realized is that while there seems to be plenty of advice for ...
12
votes
10answers
3k views

Not especially famous, long-open problems which higher mathematics beginners can understand

This is a pair to Not especially famous, long-open problems which anyone can understand So this time I'm asking for open questions so easy to state for students of subjects such as undergraduate ...
45
votes
22answers
13k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Math History Question about the exponential function

While tutoring a student recently, I have come across the situation of explain logarithms by first introducing functions of the form $$f(x)= a^x$$ where $a \ge 0,x\in \mathbb{R}$. My student then ...
9
votes
8answers
15k views

Real analysis has no applications?

I'm teaching an undergrad course in real analysis this Fall and we are using the text "Real Mathematical Analysis" by Charles Pugh. On the back it states that real analysis involves no "applications ...
59
votes
12answers
11k views

How misleading is it to regard $\frac{dy}{dx}$ as a fraction?

I am teaching Calc I, for the first time, and I haven't seriously revisited the subject in quite some time. An interesting pedagogy question came up: How misleading is it to regard $\frac{dy}{dx}$ as ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

The Matrix-Tree Theorem without the matrix

I'm teaching an introductory graph theory course in the Fall, which I'm excited about because it gives me the chance to improve my understanding of graphs (my work is in topology). A highlight for me ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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) ...
9
votes
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 ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Why are two notions of Gaussian curvature are the same - what is the simplest & most didactic proof?

This question is still wide open - all of the answers so far rely on magical calculations. I've only accepted an answer because, by bounty rules, otherwise one would be accepted automatically. I can't ...
27
votes
13answers
10k views

How to draw knots with Latex?

I am writing an exam for my students, and the topic is intro knots theory. I have no idea how to put knots into the file, but I know many MO users who can draw amazing diagrams in their papers. Can ...
32
votes
19answers
7k views

Interesting applications (in pure mathematics) of first-year calculus

What interesting applications are there for theorems or other results studied in first-year calculus courses? A good example for such an application would be using a calculus theorem to prove a ...
14
votes
11answers
4k views

Textbook for undergraduate course in geometry

I've been assigned to teach our undergraduate course in geometry next semester. This course originally was intended for future high-school teachers and focused on axiomatic, Euclid-style geometry (...
6
votes
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 ...
21
votes
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
253 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 ...
18
votes
12answers
7k 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 ...
27
votes
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 ...
25
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
944 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 ...
38
votes
20answers
8k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Help me find good math questions for my students

I am a teacher at 西铁一中。 I teach mathematics in English for students going abroad. Now this is my problem, there are few mathematics books written in English that are at the level of high school, ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Permission to use Online Notes

I am a new professor in Mathematics and I am running an independent study on Diophantine equations with a student of mine. Online I have found a wealth of very helpful expository notes written by ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

Means of Promoting Mathematics in Young Countries!

We all know mathematics is life, this question is for Mankind. It's mathoverflow here when some parts of the world we have mathunderflow! I think we can do something through ideas. A similar ...
15
votes
17answers
15k views

Undergraduate Differential Geometry Texts

Can anyone suggest any basic undergraduate differential geometry texts on the same level as Manfredo do Carmo's Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces other than that particular one? (I know a ...
18
votes
19answers
7k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Applications of Liouville's theorem

I'm looking for "nice" applications of Liouville's theorem (every bounded entire map is constant) outside the area of complex analysis. An example of what I'm not looking for : a non-constant entire ...