59
votes
22answers
9k views

Examples of major theorems with very hard proofs that have NOT dramatically improved over time

This question complement a previous MO question: Examples of theorems with proofs that have dramatically improved over time. I am looking for a list of Major theorems in mathematics whose proofs ...
166
votes
41answers
62k views

A single paper everyone should read? [closed]

Different people like different things in math, but sometimes you stand in awe before a beautiful and simple, but not universally known, result that you want to share with any of your colleagues. Do ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Why should curves be two-dimensional?

In Weil cohomology, a nice curve has cohomology up to degree 2, or more generally a nice $n$-dimensional variety has cohomology up to degree $2n$. I know that this was motivated at least in part by a ...
235
votes
21answers
28k views

Thinking and Explaining

How big a gap is there between how you think about mathematics and what you say to others? Do you say what you're thinking? Please give either personal examples of how your thoughts and words ...
11
votes
1answer
226 views

A generalization of residual finiteness to topological groups

Consider the following generalization of residual finiteness to topological groups. A locally compact Hausdorff group $G$ is called residually compact if for every compact $K \subseteq G$ there is a ...
145
votes
11answers
43k views

Have any long-suspected irrational numbers turned out to be rational?

The history of proving numbers irrational is full of interesting stories, from the ancient proofs for $\sqrt{2}$, to Lambert's irrationality proof for $\pi$, to Roger Apéry's surprise demonstration ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How to write an abstract for a math paper? [closed]

How would you go about writing an abstract for a Math paper? I know that an abstract is supposed to "advertise" the paper. However, I do not really know how to get started. Could someone tell me how ...
72
votes
25answers
28k 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 ...
100
votes
67answers
33k views

Math puzzles for dinner [closed]

You're hanging out with a bunch of other mathematicians - you go out to dinner, you're on the train, you're at a department tea, et cetera. Someone says something like "A group of 100 people at a ...
122
votes
15answers
23k views

Why worry about the axiom of choice?

As I understand it, it has been proven that the axiom of choice is independent of the other axioms of set theory. Yet I still see people fuss about whether or not theorem X depends on it, and I don't ...
1
vote
1answer
222 views

Correlation between two distance measures on bitstrings

I have an infinite collection of $0/1$ random strings of length $n$ (i.e., say 010001110101), where each digit is an independent Bernoulli RV, with parameter $p_i$, $i:1...n$. Define the "trait ...
18
votes
1answer
536 views

Minimum value of $|p(1)|^2+|p(2)|^2 +…+ |p(n+3)|^2$ over all monic polynomials $p$

Let $n$ be a positive integer. Determine the smallest possible value of $|p(1)|^2+|p(2)|^2 +...+ |p(n+3)|^2$ over all monic polynomials $p$ of degree $n$. This question was proposed (problem ...
35
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the purpose of the flat/fppf/fpqc topologies?

There have been other similar questions before (e.g. What is your picture of the flat topology?), but none of them seem to have been answered fully. As someone who originally started in ...
36
votes
30answers
12k views

Most intricate and most beautiful structures in mathematics

In the December 2010 issue of Scientific American, an article "A Geometric Theory of Everything" by A. G. Lisi and J. O. Weatherall states "... what is arguably the most intricate structure known to ...
11
votes
2answers
689 views

A question of Erdos on entire functions

At the end of the following paper, Erdos asked if there is a family $F$ of entire functions of size continuum such that for every $z \in \mathbb{C}$, $\{f(z) : f \in F\}$ has size less than continuum. ...
98
votes
41answers
34k views

Where does a math person go to learn quantum mechanics?

My undergraduate advisor said something very interesting to me the other day; it was something like "not knowing quantum mechanics is like never having heard a symphony." I've been meaning to learn ...
20
votes
1answer
577 views

Harmonic spinors on closed hyperbolic manifolds

Does anyone know an example of a closed spin hyperbolic manifold of dimension 3 or greater such that the kernel of the Dirac operator is non-trivial? I'm mainly interested in the 3-dimensional case ...
37
votes
37answers
14k views

Major mathematical advances past age fifty [closed]

From A Mathematician’s Apology, G. H. Hardy, 1940: "I had better say something here about this question of age, since it is particularly important for mathematicians. No mathematician should ever ...
14
votes
2answers
739 views

Counterexamples for strengthening Whitehead's theorem?

Let $f:X\to Y$ be a pointed map of pointed connected $n$-dimensional CW complexes. Whitehead's theorem says that if $f_*:\pi_qX\to \pi_qY$ is an isomorphism for $q\le n$ and a surjection for $q=n+1$, ...
2
votes
2answers
382 views

An approximate version of $g^2 = e$ for all $g \in G$, implies $G$ is Abelian [closed]

I am trying to understand the concept of approximate group. So I took a group theory exercise from a physics class at Caltech. The question basically states: Suppose that for any element $g ...
120
votes
10answers
14k views

Is there an introduction to probability theory from a structuralist/categorical perspective?

The title really is the question, but allow me to explain. I am a pure mathematician working outside of probability theory, but the concepts and techniques of probability theory (in the sense of ...
61
votes
21answers
8k views

Probabilistic Proofs of Analytic Facts

What are some interesting examples of probabilistic reasoning to establish results that would traditionally be considered analysis? What I mean by "probabilistic reasoning" is that the approach should ...
52
votes
12answers
10k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
550 views

Some Non-Trivial Algebraic(Rational) Number

Every problem about algebraic-ness (rational-ness) of numbers that I have seen is in one of the below types: The number is algebraic(rational) and proving that it is algebraic(rational) is trivial, ...
3
votes
2answers
253 views

Commutative von Neumann algebras and localizable measure spaces

This is not my subject so I apologize if my question is too obvious or understood from other pages. I read some pages such as Reference for the Gelfand-Neumark theorem for commutative von Neumann ...
72
votes
9answers
20k views

solving $f(f(x))=g(x)$

This question is of course inspired by the question How to solve f(f(x))=cosx and Joel David Hamkins' answer, which somehow gives a formal trick for solving equations of the form $f(f(x))=g(x)$ on a ...
65
votes
17answers
57k views

Google question: In a country in which people only want boys [closed]

Hi all! Google published recently questions that are asked to candidates on interviews. One of them caused very very hot debates in our company and we're unsure where the truth is. The question is: ...
7
votes
1answer
276 views

Does the following $ C^{*} $-algebraic result have a purely algebraic proof?

While studying the proof of Bott periodicity for operator $ K $-theory in this set of notes, I learned this fact: Theorem. Let $ A $ and $ B $ be $ C^{*} $-algebras. Let $ f,g: A \to B $ be $ * ...
75
votes
16answers
19k views

What if Current Foundations of Mathematics are Inconsistent? [closed]

The title of the question is also the title of a talk by Vladimir Voevodsky, available here. Had this kind of opinion been expressed before? EDIT. Thanks to all answerers, commentators, voters, ...
13
votes
1answer
303 views

Why are unramified maps not required to be locally of finite presentation?

I have read and heard several times that it is “important” that unramified maps are not required to be locally of finite presentation, but only locally of finite type. Apart from this issue with ...
1
vote
2answers
172 views

Lower bound for $ \sum_{i=1}^n x_i f(x_i)$ when $\sum_{i=1}^{n}x_i = K$

Considering, the set of all n dim. vectors $\{x_i\}_{i=1,...,n} $ such that $x_i \geq 0 $ and $\sum_{i=1}^{n}x_i = K$ Any continuous and strictly increasing function $f^+(x)$ : $ \mathbb R^+ \to ...
36
votes
9answers
3k views

What do named “tricks” share?

There are a number of theorems or lemmas or mathematical ideas that come to be known as eponymous tricks, a term which in this context is in no sense derogatory. Here is a list of 10 such tricks (the ...
1
vote
1answer
111 views

Phase of the inner product between the elements of an ETF

I am doing research in compressive sampling for Cognitive Radio applications. While working on a project I came across with the following question: Is there any research about the phase of inner ...
8
votes
0answers
202 views

Does hypoellipticity imply the existence of a parametrix?

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold, like $\mathbb{R}^n$ for instance. The existence of a parametrix for an operator $P$ on $C^\infty(M)$ in any reasonable pseudodifferential calculus implies that $P$ is ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Maximum principle for the heat equation with Dirichlet conditions

Let us consider the Laplacian operator in a domain $\Omega\subset \mathbb{R}^n$, with Dirichlet boundary conditions. For all $f\in L^2(\Omega)$, we denote by $S(t)f$ the solution of the equation $$ ...
8
votes
2answers
333 views

Is every connected reductive group over a local field already defined over a global field?

Let $K$ be a local field, e.g. $\mathbb{Q}_p$ or $\mathbb{F}_p((t))$. Let $G$ be a connected reductive group over $K$. Is it true that $G$ is already defined over a global field? More precisely, does ...
15
votes
0answers
367 views

Is there a motivic Cauchy integral formula?

Let $R$ be a complete dvr with fraction field $K$ and residue field $k$, and let $X, Y$ be two smooth projective $R$-schemes with isomorphic generic fibers. Is it true that $[X_k]=[Y_k]$ in ...
40
votes
1answer
3k views

Are the primes normally distributed? Or is this the Riemann hypothesis?

Forgive my very naive question. I know next to nothing about number theory, but I'm curious about the state of the art on the distribution of primes. Let $\mathrm{Li}(x)$ be the offset logarithmic ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a good poster for a math conference?

I'm going to participate to a conference and they ask me to do a poster on my research. I've never made a poster for a conference/seen a poster session in a conference. So what is important? What do ...
18
votes
0answers
991 views

Is formula valid for relating $\pi$ with ALL of its OEIS A002485(n)/A002486(n) convergents?

Could anyone try to prove that the below conjectured formula is valid for relating $\pi$ with ALL of its convergents - those, which are described in OEIS via A002485(n)/A002486(n) ? $$(-1)^n\cdot(\pi ...
70
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there a dense subset of the real plane with all pairwise distances rational?

I heard the following two questions recently from Carl Mummert, who encouraged me to spread them around. Part of his motivation for the questions was to give the subject of computable model theory ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is it hard to prove that the Euler Mascheroni constant is irrational?

Philosophically why should proving that $\gamma$ is irrational (let alone transcendental) be so much harder than proving $\pi$ or $e$ are irrational?
1
vote
0answers
63 views

Variational Properties of the Perelman Functional

After reading a bit more about Perelman's entropy and gradient solitons, I came up with a hunch, which I must test. Non-singular solitons can be regarded as critical points of Perelman's entropy, or ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

What are conjectures that are true for primes but then turned out to be false for some composite number?

Note: This is an update formulation since many people misunderstood the question before. Of course it is easy to make a statement like "Every n is a prime or at most 1000", which is true for every ...
11
votes
4answers
677 views

Reference request: expository text on the structure of reductive groups over non-archimedean local fields

I am interested in an expository text in English, which summarizes the main results and aspects of the structure theory of reductive groups over local fields, in a hopefully not very technical manner ...
3
votes
0answers
125 views

Injectivity of the Dehn-Nielsen-Baer map?

If $S$ is a closed hyperbolic surface, is there an easy proof of the injectivity of the Dehn-Nielsen-Baer map from $\mathrm{Mod}(S)$ to $\mathrm{Out}(\pi_1(S))$, taking an element of the mapping class ...
34
votes
7answers
6k views

Are some numbers more irrational than others?

Some irrational numbers are transcendental, which makes them in some sense "more irrational" than algebraic numbers. There are also numbers, such as the golden ratio $\varphi$, which are poorly ...
22
votes
6answers
2k views

Measures of non-abelian-ness

Let $G$ be a finite non-abelian group of $n$ elements. I would like a measure that intuitively captures the extent to which $G$ is non-commutative. One easy measure is a count of the non-commutative ...
48
votes
5answers
4k views

Why are abelian groups amenable?

A (discrete) group is amenable if it admits a finitely additive probability measure (on all its subsets), invariant under left translation. It is a basic fact that every abelian group is amenable. ...
9
votes
1answer
437 views

Infected square

I saw the following problem in Mathematical Puzzles from Peter Winkler (very good book, by the way): imagine you infect k cases of a chessboard nxn and the infection spreads to a case if it has at ...

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