170
votes
93answers
28k 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 ...
8
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 ...
454
votes
188answers
116k 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 ...
135
votes
36answers
36k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
82
votes
39answers
27k 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. Poincare's 3d sphere charaterization or the search to prove ...
23
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
21
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
789 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 & ...
4
votes
3answers
445 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
195 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 ...
138
votes
35answers
31k 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 ...
107
votes
15answers
19k 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 ...
33
votes
5answers
3k 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? (This is mentioned in P. ...
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 ...
17
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
4k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
879 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
321 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
308 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: ...
113
votes
76answers
37k 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.
211
votes
22answers
25k 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 ...
99
votes
10answers
12k 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 ...
85
votes
41answers
16k 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 ...
62
votes
9answers
17k 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 ...
109
votes
7answers
7k 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 $$ {\Aut}^n(G):= \Aut(\Aut(...\Aut(G)...)) $$ ...
53
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
41
votes
2answers
13k 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 ...
37
votes
37answers
13k 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 ...
34
votes
7answers
6k views

Arguments against large cardinals

I started to learn about large cardinals a while ago, and I read that the existence, and even the consistency of the existence of an inaccessible cardinal, i.e. a limit cardinal which is additionally ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

Bijection between irreducible representations and conjugacy classes of finite groups

Is there some natural bijection between irreducible representations and conjugacy classes of finite groups (as in case of $S_n$)?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Are non-PL manifolds CW-complexes?

Can every topological (not necessarily smooth or PL) manifold be given the structure of a CW complex? I'm pretty sure that the answer is yes. However, I have not managed to find a reference for ...
21
votes
4answers
23k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a purely group-theoretic reformulation of an equivalence of subgroups?

There is an equivalence relation between inclusion of finite groups coming from the world of subfactors: Definition: $(H_{1} \subset G_{1}) \sim(H_{2} \subset G_{2})$ if $(R^{G_{1}} \subset ...
3
votes
0answers
215 views

Maximization of a total variation distance subject to another total variation distance in Markov chain

Suppose two dependent random variables $X$ and $V$ from finite alphabets $\mathcal{V}$ and $\mathcal{X}$ with known joint and marginal distributions are given. Let $P_{XV}$ and $P_X$ and $P_V$ are the ...
11
votes
1answer
503 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
618 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 ...
121
votes
30answers
39k views

Real-world applications of mathematics, by arxiv subject area?

What are the most important applications outside of mathematics of each of the major fields of mathematics? For concreteness, let's divide up mathematics according to arxiv mathematics categories, ...
185
votes
7answers
91k 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 ...
98
votes
8answers
10k 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 $[0,1]$ ...
105
votes
69answers
21k views

Which math paper maximizes the ratio (importance)/(length)?

My vote would be Milnor's 7-page paper "On manifolds homeomorphic to the 7-sphere", in Vol. 64 of Annals of Math. For those who have not read it, he explicitly constructs smooth 7-manifolds which are ...
62
votes
34answers
56k views

Mathematicians who were late learners?-list [closed]

It is well-known that many great mathematicians were prodigies. Were there any great mathematicians who started off later in life?
66
votes
3answers
6k views

Does every non-empty set admit a group structure (in ZF)?

It is easy to see that in ZFC, any non-empty set $S$ admits a group structure: for finite $S$ identify $S$ with a cyclic group, and for infinite $S$, the set of finite subsets of $S$ with the binary ...
63
votes
9answers
14k views

How to solve f(f(x)) = cos(x) ?

I found the following interesting equation on some web page I cannot remember: $f(f(x))=\cos(x)$ Out of curiosity I tried to solve it, but realized that I do not have a clue how to approach such an ...
29
votes
9answers
4k views

Non-computational software useful to mathematicians

The MathOverflow question Open source mathematical software contains a list of programs that are useful to perform various computational tasks, such as computer algebra systems. However, evaluating ...
85
votes
3answers
9k views

Convergence of $\sum(n^3\sin^2n)^{-1}$

I saw a while ago in a book by Clifford Pickover, that whether $\displaystyle \sum_{n=1}^\infty\frac1{n^3\sin^2 n}$ converges is open. I would think that the question of its convergence is really ...
60
votes
5answers
5k views

What do epimorphisms of (commutative) rings look like?

(Background: In any category, an epimorphism is a morphism $f:X\to Y$ which is "surjective" in the following sense: for any two morphisms $g,h:Y\to Z$, if $g\circ f=h\circ f$, then $g=h$. Roughly, ...
19
votes
63answers
12k views

What's your favorite equation, formula, identity or inequality? [closed]

Certain formulas I really enjoy looking at like the Euler-Maclaurin formula or the Leibniz integral rule. What's your favorite equation, formula, identity or inequality?
60
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
36
votes
11answers
4k 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 ...

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