# Greatest Hits

78answers
147k 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 ...
29answers
81k views

### Mathematical games interesting to both you and a 5+-year-old child

Background: My daughter is 6 years old now, once I wanted to think on some math (about some Young diagrams), but she wanted to play with me... How to make both of us to do what they want ? I guess ...
248answers
202k 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 ...
2answers
112k views

### Perfectly centered break of a perfectly aligned pool ball rack

Imagine the beginning of a game of pool, you have 16 balls, 15 of them in a triangle <| and 1 of them being the cue ball off to the left of that triangle. Imagine that the rack (the 15 balls in a ...
38answers
93k views

### Examples of unexpected mathematical images

I try to generate a lot of examples in my research to get a better feel for what I am doing. Sometimes, I generate a plot, or a figure, that really surprises me, and makes my research take an ...
29answers
123k views

### Intuitive crutches for higher dimensional thinking

I once heard a joke (not a great one I'll admit...) about higher dimensional thinking that went as follows- An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are discussing how to visualise four ...
21answers
13k views

### Good “casual” advanced math books

I'm curious if there are any good math books out there that take a "casual approach" to higher level topics. I'm very interested in advanced math, but have lost the time as of late to study textbooks ...
1answer
29k views

### What is the definition of the function T used in Atiyah's attempted proof of the Riemann Hypothesis?

In Michael Atiyah's paper purportedly proving the Riemann hypothesis, he relies heavily on the properties of a certain function $T(s)$, known as the Todd function. My question is, what is the ...
8answers
177k views

### The factorial of -1, -2, -3,

Well, $n!$ is for integer $n < 0$ not defined — as yet. So the question is: How could a sensible generalization of the factorial for negative integers look like? Clearly a good generalization ...
78answers
118k views

### Video lectures of mathematics courses available online for free

It can be difficult to learn mathematics on your own from textbooks, and I often wish universities videotaped their mathematics courses and distributed them for free online. Fortunately, some ...
24answers
13k views

### Noteworthy, but not so famous conjectures resolved recent years

Conjectures play important role in development of mathematics. Mathoverflow gives an interaction platform for mathematicians from various fields, while in general it is not always easy to get in ...
45answers
14k views

### Old books you would like to have reprinted with high-quality typesetting

There are some questions on mathoverflow such as What out-of-print books would you like to see re-printed? Old books still used with answers that tell us things such as: Mathematicians prefer to ...
7answers
127k 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 ...
12answers
90k views

### If you break a stick at two points chosen uniformly, the probability the three resulting sticks form a triangle is 1/4. Is there a nice proof of this?

There is a standard problem in elementary probability that goes as follows. Consider a stick of length 1. Pick two points uniformly at random on the stick, and break the stick at those points. What ...
20answers
26k views

### How can a mathematician handle the pressure to discover something new?

Suppose I'm an aspiring mathematician-to-be, who started doing research. Although this is really what I love doing, I found that one disturbing point is that there's always the pressure of discovering ...
35answers
113k 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 ...
77answers
20k views

### Tweetable Mathematics

Update: Please restrict your answers to "tweets" that give more than just the statement of the result, and give also the essence (or a useful hint) of the argument/novelty. I am looking for ...
15answers
49k views

### Why do roots of polynomials tend to have absolute value close to 1?

While playing around with Mathematica I noticed that most polynomials with real coefficients seem to have most complex zeroes very near the unit circle. For instance, if we plot all the roots of a ...
18answers
67k views

### Reading list for basic differential geometry?

I'd like to ask if people can point me towards good books or notes to learn some basic differential geometry. I work in representation theory mostly and have found that sometimes my background is ...
45answers
88k views

### Magic trick based on deep mathematics

I am interested in magic tricks whose explanation requires deep mathematics. The trick should be one that would actually appeal to a layman. An example is the following: the magician asks Alice to ...
12answers
74k views

### What practical applications does set theory have?

I am a non-mathematician. I'm reading up on set theory. It's fascinating, but I wonder if it's found any 'real-world' applications yet. For instance, in high school when we were learning the ...
2answers
45k views

8answers
33k views

### Example of a good Zero Knowledge Proof.

I am working on my zero knowledge proofs and I am looking for a good example of a real world proof of this type. An even better answer would be a Zero Knowledge Proof that shows the statement isn't ...
6answers
68k views

### Fourier vs Laplace transforms

In solving a linear system, when would I use a Fourier transform versus a Laplace transform? I am not a mathematician, so the little intuition I have tells me that it could be related to the boundary ...
45answers
23k views

### 17 camels trick

The following popular mathematical parable is well known: A father left 17 camels to his three sons and, according to the will, the eldest son should be given a half of all camels, the middle son ...
36answers
32k views

### Most harmful heuristic?

What's the most harmful heuristic (towards proper mathematics education), you've seen taught/accidentally taught/were taught? When did handwaving inhibit proper learning?
12answers
48k views

### Why is the gradient normal?

This is a somewhat long discussion so please bear with me. There is a theorem that I have always been curious about from an intuitive standpoint and that has been glossed over in most textbooks I ...
17answers
47k views

### Periods and commas in mathematical writing

I just realized that I am a barbarian when it comes to writing. But I am not entirely sure, so this might be the right place to ask. When typing display-mode formulae do you guys add a period after ...
26answers
45k views

### Geometric Interpretation of Trace

This afternoon I was speaking with some graduate students in the department and we came to the following quandry; Is there a geometric interpretation of the trace of a matrix? This question should ...
4answers
17k views

### The enigmatic complexity of number theory

One of the most salient aspects of the discipline of number theory is that from a very small number of definitions, entities and axioms one is led to an extraordinary wealth and diversity of theorems, ...
18answers
61k views

### Suggestions for a good Measure Theory book

I have taken analysis and have looked at different measures, but I am currently looking at realizing a certain problem in a different light and feel that I need a better background in various measures ...
61answers
13k views

### Nonequivalent definitions in Mathematics

I would like to ask if anyone could share any specific experiences of discovering nonequivalent definitions in their field of mathematical research. By that I mean discovering that in different ...
53answers
44k views

### Which popular games are the most mathematical?

I consider a game to be mathematical if there is interesting mathematics (to a mathematician) involved in the game's structure, optimal strategies, practical strategies, analysis of the game ...
4answers
49k views

### Lorentzian vs Gaussian Fitting Functions

This is probably too general a question to ask without some specific context, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway: What are the practical differences between using a Lorentzian function and using ...
29answers
27k views

### Proposals for polymath projects

Background Polymath projects are a form of open Internet collaboration aimed towards a major mathematical goal, usually to settle a major mathematical problem. This is a concept introduced in 2009 by ...
11answers
17k views

### Do you know important theorems that remain unknown?

Do you know of any very important theorems that remain unknown? I mean results that could easily make into textbooks or research monographs, but almost nobody knows about them. If you provide an ...
23answers
17k views

### Which popular games have been studied mathematically?

I'm planning out some research projects I could do with undergraduates, and it struck me that problems analyzing games might be appropriate. As an abstract homotopy theorist, I have no experience with ...
11answers
10k views

### Examples of notably long or difficult proofs that only improve upon existing results by a small amount

I was recently reading Bui, Conrey and Young's 2011 paper "More than 41% of the zeros of the zeta function are on the critical line", in which they improve the lower bound on the proportion of zeros ...