Recently I was preparing an undergrad-level proof of (a form of) the Jordan Curve Theorem, and I had forgotten just how much work is involved in it. The proof stored my head was just using Alexander duality plus some sanity-checks on the topology of the curve in question, which is a fine approach but does require a bit of algebraic topology machinery my audience didn't have access to. The more elementary proof (or at least the one I landed on) has a straightforward idea behind it, but turning that into a proper argument required slogging through quite a few details about polygons, regular neighborhoods, etc. Similarly, I couldn't help noticing just how much of a pain it is to prove the 2- and 3-dimensional versions of Stokes' theorem without some notion of manifolds, let alone the usual Stokes' theorem in some suitable setting.

Those are both elementary examples, but it got me thinking about the general topic of results that have very rough proofs from more elementary principles but have much clearer and smoother proofs with some more advanced background. Specifically, what are some examples of results from more advanced or narrow topics of mathematics can vastly simplify or explain in retrospect theorems that are encountered and proved laboriously in less specialized or more common areas of math? (If it helps clarify what I'm trying to get at, another example in my mind is May's "Concise Course in Algebraic Topology," which I think of as having the premise of, "So, now that you've gone through the standard intro algebraic topology course, here's what was secretly going on behind the scenes the whole time.")

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