562
votes
217answers
142k views

Examples of common false beliefs in mathematics

The first thing to say is that this is not the same as the question about interesting mathematical mistakes. I am interested about the type of false beliefs that many intelligent people have while ...
221
votes
99answers
36k 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 ...
25
votes
1answer
6k views

About Goldbach's conjecture

let's consider a composite natural number $n$ greater or equal to $4$. Goldbach's conjecture is equivalent to the following statement: "there is at least one natural number $r$ such as $(n-r)$ and ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

The cyclic subfactors theory: a quantum arithmetic?

Context: First recall some results: - Actions of finite groups on the hyperfinite type $II_{1}$ factor $R$ (Jones 1980). - A Galois correspondence for depth 2 irreducible subfactors ...
180
votes
36answers
49k views

Widely accepted mathematical results that were later shown wrong?

I wonder if there are any examples in the history of mathematics of a mathematical proof that was initially reviewed and widely accepted as valid, only to be disproved a significant amount of time ...
30
votes
2answers
4k views

Does the curvature determine the metric?

Hello, I ask myself, whether the curvature determines the metric. Concretely: Given a compact Riemannian manifold $M$, are there two metrics $g_1$ and $g_2$, which are not everywhere flat, such that ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

Similarities between Post's Problem and Cohen's Forcing

Remark: I have since learned that G.H. Moore addresses this question in the third reference listed at the end of this post, beginning on p. 157 in which he cites a letter from Kreisel to Gödel dated ...
15
votes
1answer
924 views

Non-“weakly group theoretical” integral fusion categories?

Is there an integral fusion category of global dimension $210$, such that the simple objects have dimensions $\{1,5,5,5,6,7,7\}$ and the following fusion matrices? $\small{\begin{smallmatrix} 1 & ...
121
votes
10answers
15k 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 ...
54
votes
2answers
16k views

Is the analysis as taught in universities in fact the analysis of definable numbers?

Ten years ago when I studied in the university I had no idea about definable numbers, but I came to this concept myself. My thoughts were as follows: All numbers are divided into two classes: those ...
38
votes
5answers
4k views

Is the Riemann Hypothesis equivalent to a $\Pi_1$ sentence?

1) Can the Riemann Hypothesis (RH) be expressed as a $\Pi_1$ sentence? More formally, 2) Is there a $\Pi_1$ sentence which is provably equivalent to RH in PA? Update (July 2010): So we ...
52
votes
4answers
4k views

when is A isomorphic to A^3?

this is totally elementary, but I have no idea how to solve it: let $A$ be an abelian group such that $A$ is isomorphic to $A^3$. is then $A$ isomorphic to $A^2$? probably no, but how construct a ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

What is known about the sum x^{n^2}/n?

It follows from a general theorem of Honda that the formal group with the logarithm $$ x+x^{2^s}/2+x^{3^s}/3+x^{4^s}/4+\cdots $$ has integer coefficients. I became interested in it because its ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

Distinct numbers in multiplication table

Consider multiplication table for numbers $1,2,\cdots, n$. How many different numbers are there? That is how many different numbers of the form $ij$ with $1 \le i, j \le n$ are there? I'm interested ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Generalization of a theorem of Øystein Ore in group theory

Theorem (Øystein Ore, 1938): A finite group $G$ is cyclic iff its lattice of subgroups $\mathcal{L}(G)$ is distributive. Proof: see below. Let $(H \subset G)$ be an inclusion of finite groups and ...
6
votes
2answers
439 views

Necessary conditions for cofibrancy in global projective model structure on simplicial presheaves

Consider the global projective model category of simplicial presheaves on some category (the category of smooth manifolds is particularly interesting to me). In Section 9.1 of Dugger's paper ...
7
votes
3answers
731 views

Bound the error in estimating a relative totient function

Let $n=p_1^{e_1}\cdots p_k^{e_k}$ be an integer with $k$ prime factors. We know that the number of integers less than $n$ and coprime to it is $$\Phi(n)=n-\sum_i\frac n{p_i}+\sum_{i \lt j}\frac ...
1
vote
0answers
252 views

Lifting a quadratic system to a non vanishing vector field on $S^{3}$ or $T^{1} S^{2}$

Let $P:S^{3}\to S^{2}$ be the Hopf fibration. For a vector field $X$ on $S^{2}$ there is a non vanishing vector field $\tilde{X}$ on $S^{3}$ such that $DP(\tilde{X})=X$. It is constructed in ...
241
votes
21answers
30k 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 ...
170
votes
35answers
41k views

Why is a topology made up of 'open' sets? [closed]

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I don't think I've ever been able to genuinely motivate the definition of a topological space in an undergraduate course. Clearly, the definition distills the essence of ...
117
votes
46answers
39k views

Ways to prove the fundamental theorem of algebra

This seems to be a favorite question everywhere, including Princeton quals. How many ways are there? Please give a new way in each answer, and if possible give reference. I start by giving two: ...
123
votes
15answers
24k 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 ...
116
votes
39answers
34k views

Most interesting mathematics mistake?

Some mistakes in mathematics made by extremely smart and famous people can eventually lead to interesting developments and theorems, e.g. Poincaré's 3d sphere characterization or the search to prove ...
104
votes
45answers
19k views

Examples of eventual counterexamples

Define an "eventual counterexample" to be $P(a) = T $ for $a < n$ $P(n) = F$ $n$ is sufficiently large for $P(n) = T\ \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$ to be a 'reasonable' conjecture to make. where ...
45
votes
11answers
5k views

Compelling evidence that two basepoints are better than one

This question is inspired by an answer of Tim Porter. Ronnie Brown pioneered a framework for homotopy theory in which one may consider multiple basepoints. These ideas are accessibly presented in his ...
36
votes
8answers
4k views

Does the formal power series solution to $f(f(x))= \sin( x) $ converge?

I have spent some time using gp-pari. There is, of course, a formal power series solution to $ f(f(x)) = \sin x.$ It is displayed, below, identified by the symbol $g$ because I am not entirely sure ...
42
votes
3answers
3k views

Number of elements in the set $\{1,\cdots,n\}\cdot\{1,\cdots,n\}$

Let $A_n=\{a\cdot b : a,b \in \mathbb{N}, a,b\leq n\}$. Are there any estimates for $|A_n|$? Will it be $o(n^2)$?
5
votes
3answers
479 views

Jordan-Hölder theorem for subfactors?

All the subfactors $(N\subset M)$ are irreducible and finite index inclusions of II$_1$ factors. First recall that in this paper, D. Bisch characterizes the Jones projections $e_K$ of the ...
127
votes
33answers
74k views

Best Algebraic Geometry text book? (other than Hartshorne)

I think (almost) everyone agrees that Hartshorne's Algebraic Geometry is still the best. Then what might be the 2nd best? It can be a book, preprint, online lecture note, webpage, etc. One suggestion ...
212
votes
7answers
108k views

Philosophy behind Mochizuki's work on the ABC conjecture

Mochizuki has recently announced a proof of the ABC conjecture. It is far too early to judge its correctness, but it builds on many years of work by him. Can someone briefly explain the philosophy ...
153
votes
67answers
52k views

Awfully sophisticated proof for simple facts [closed]

It is sometimes the case that one can produce proofs of simple facts that are of disproportionate sophistication which, however, do not involve any circularity. For example, (I think) I gave an ...
119
votes
7answers
8k views

Does $\mathrm{Aut}(\mathrm{Aut}(…\mathrm{Aut}(G)…))$ stabilize?

Purely for fun, I was playing around with iteratively applying $\DeclareMathOperator{\Aut}{Aut}\Aut$ to a group $G$; that is, studying groups of the form $$ {\Aut}^n(G):= \Aut(\Aut(...\Aut(G)...)) $$ ...
41
votes
3answers
4k views

$C^1$ isometric embedding of flat torus into $\mathbb{R}^3$

I read (in a paper by Emil Saucan) that the flat torus may be isometrically embedded in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with a $C^1$ map by the Kuiper extension of the Nash Embedding Theorem, a claim repeated in this ...
35
votes
6answers
2k views

Is the non-triviality of the algebraic dual of an infinite-dimensional vector space equivalent to the axiom of choice?

If $V$ is given to be a vector space that is not finite-dimensional, it doesn't seem to be possible to exhibit an explicit non-zero linear functional on $V$ without further information about $V$. The ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Euler characteristic of a manifold and self-intersection

This is probably quite easy, but how do you show that the Euler characteristic of a manifold M (defined for example as the alternating sum of the dimensions of integral cohomology groups) is equal to ...
27
votes
4answers
31k views

Eigenvalues of Matrix Sums

Is there a relationship between the eigenvalues of individual matrices and the eigenvalues of their sum? What about the special case when they are Hermitian and positive-definite? I am investigating ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Dimension of infinite product of vector spaces

This question is motivated by the question link text, which compares the infinite direct sum and the infinite direct product of a ring. It is well-known that an infinite dimensional vector space is ...
9
votes
7answers
5k views

Lower bound for sum of binomial coefficients?

Hi! I'm new here. It would be awesome if someone knows a good answer. Is there a good lower bound for the tail of sums of binomial coefficients? I'm particularly interested in the simplest case ...
25
votes
2answers
5k views

The error in Petrovski and Landis' proof of the 16th Hilbert problem

What was the main error in the proof of the second part of the 16th Hilbert problem by Petrovski and Landis? Please see this related post and also the following post. Added : According to their ...
12
votes
1answer
804 views

Proof-Theoretic Ordinal of ZFC or Consistent ZFC Extensions?

Let the proof theoretic ordinal $\alpha$ of a theory $T$ be the least recursive ordinal such that $T$ does not prove that $\alpha$ is well-founded. This ordinal is intended to quantify in some sense ...
8
votes
1answer
404 views

Reference for Wang Tile

I am working on projects in solving ground state of generalized ising models. One recent work involves tiling with basic tiles that filled the whole lattice. For example, we could obtain results: ...
5
votes
1answer
372 views

coloring in lattice

This is a mathematical question raised from engineering and physics: Is there some established mathematical approach in filling a physical lattice with some colored basis (black and white here)? For ...
0
votes
2answers
160 views

Products of maximal inclusions of finite groups with a non-obvious intermediate

Let $(H_1 \subset G_1)$ and $(H_2 \subset G_2)$ be core-free maximal inclusions of finite groups. Their product, the inclusion $(H_1 \times H_2 \subset G_1 \times G_2)$, admits four obvious ...
228
votes
68answers
108k views

Proofs without words

Can you give examples of proofs without words? In particular, can you give examples of proofs without words for non-trivial results? (One could ask if this is of interest to mathematicians, and I ...
132
votes
76answers
43k views

Best online mathematics videos?

I know of two good mathematics videos available online, namely: Sphere inside out (part I and part II) Moebius transformation revealed Do you know of any other good math videos? Share.
118
votes
94answers
65k views

Famous mathematical quotes [closed]

Some famous quotes often give interesting insights into the vision of mathematics that certain mathematicians have. Which ones are you particularly fond of? Standard community wiki rules apply: one ...
119
votes
8answers
13k views

If $f$ is infinitely differentiable then $f$ coincides with a polynomial

Let $f$ be an infinitely differentiable function on $[0,1]$ and suppose that for each $x \in [0,1]$ there is an integer $n \in \mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}(x)=0$. Then does $f$ coincide on $[0,1]$ ...
74
votes
9answers
21k 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 ...
54
votes
2answers
6k views

The amplituhedron minus the physics

Is it possible to appreciate the geometric/polytopal properties of the amplituhedron without delving into the physics that gave rise to it? All the descriptions I've so far encountered assume ...
72
votes
4answers
9k views

How small can a sum of a few roots of unity be?

Let $n$ be a large natural number, and let $z_1, \ldots, z_{10}$ be (say) ten $n^{th}$ roots of unity: $z_1^n = \ldots = z_{10}^n = 1$. Suppose that the sum $S = z_1+\ldots+z_{10}$ is non-zero. How ...

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