# Questions tagged [mathematics-education]

For questions in Mathematics Education as a scientific discipline. For more hands-on questions on teaching Mathematics, please use the tag teaching. There is also a Stack Exchange community http://matheducators.stackexchange.com/

256
questions

**841**

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**260**answers

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### 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 ...

**361**

votes

**81**answers

128k 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 ...

**276**

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**34**answers

72k 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 ...

**237**

votes

**29**answers

84k 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 ...

**184**

votes

**30**answers

71k 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, e.g....

**178**

votes

**69**answers

39k views

### What are your favorite instructional counterexamples?

Related: question #879, Most interesting mathematics mistake. But the intent of this question is more pedagogical.
In many branches of mathematics, it seems to me that a good counterexample can be ...

**177**

votes

**8**answers

23k views

### How to memorise (understand) Nakayama's lemma and its corollaries?

Nakayama's lemma is mentioned in the majority of books on algebraic geometry that treat varieties. So I think Ihave read the formulation of this lemma at least 20 times (and read the proof maybe ...

**154**

votes

**28**answers

47k views

### Cool problems to impress students with group theory [closed]

Since this forum is densely populated with algebraists, I think I'll ask it here.
I'm teaching intermediate level algebra this semester and I'd like to entertain my students with some clever ...

**154**

votes

**37**answers

182k views

### Too old for advanced mathematics? [closed]

Kind of an odd question, perhaps, so I apologize in advance if it is inappropriate for this forum. I've never taken a mathematics course since high school, and didn't complete college. However, ...

**144**

votes

**28**answers

24k views

### How To Present Mathematics To Non-Mathematicians?

(Added an epilogue)
I started a job as a TA, and it requires me to take a five sessions workshop about better teaching in which we have to present a 10 minutes lecture (micro-teaching).
In the last ...

**126**

votes

**17**answers

15k views

### Why do we care about $L^p$ spaces besides $p = 1$, $p = 2$, and $p = \infty$?

I was helping a student study for a functional analysis exam and the question came up as to when, in practice, one needs to consider the Banach space $L^p$ for some value of $p$ other than the obvious ...

**115**

votes

**7**answers

23k views

### Is the boundary $\partial S$ analogous to a derivative?

Without prethought, I mentioned in class once that the reason the symbol $\partial$
is used to represent the boundary operator in topology is
that its behavior is akin to a derivative.
But after ...

**112**

votes

**25**answers

16k views

### “Mathematics talk” for five year olds

I am trying to prepare a "mathematics talk" for five year olds from my daughter's elementary school. I have given many mathematics talks in my life but this one feels
very tough to prepare. Could the ...

**110**

votes

**1**answer

8k views

### What happened to Suren Arakelov? [closed]

I heard that Professor Suren Arakelov got mental disorder and ceased research. However, a brief search on the Russian wikipedia page showed he was placed in a psychiatric hospital because of political ...

**97**

votes

**9**answers

28k views

### How do you not forget old math?

I am trying to not forget my old math. I finished my PhD in real algebraic geometry a few years ago and then switched to the industry for financial reasons. Now I get the feeling that I want to do a ...

**89**

votes

**5**answers

6k views

### Is there a database for tracking the dependencies of mathematical theorems?

Given a proof for a result, one could denote the proof as a node on a graph, and then draw arrows to the node from axioms and previous results that the proof uses, and then draw arrows from the node ...

**83**

votes

**78**answers

15k views

### Elementary+Short+Useful

Imagine your-self in front of a class with very good undergraduates
who plan to do mathematics (professionally) in the future.
You have 30 minutes after that you do not see these students again.
You ...

**83**

votes

**13**answers

26k 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 ...

**82**

votes

**21**answers

7k views

### One-step problems in geometry

I'm collecting advanced exercises in geometry. Ideally, each exercise should be solved by one trick and this trick should be useful elsewhere (say it gives an essential idea in some theory).
If you ...

**80**

votes

**29**answers

19k views

### Parodies of abstruse mathematical writing

Perhaps under the influence of a recent question
on perverse sheaves,
in conjunction with the impending $\pi$-day (3/14/15 at 9:26:53),
I recalled a long-ago parody of abstruse mathematical language
...

**80**

votes

**18**answers

21k views

### Depressed graduate student. [closed]

How does a depressed graduate student go about recovering his enthusiasm for the subject and the question at hand?
Edit: I am not that grad student; it is a very talented friend of mine.
Moderator's ...

**79**

votes

**15**answers

12k views

### What's a nice argument that shows the volume of the unit ball in $\mathbb R^n$ approaches 0?

Before you close for "homework problem", please note the tags.
Last week, I gave my calculus 1 class the assignment to calculate the $n$-volume of the $n$-ball. They had finished up talking about ...

**78**

votes

**11**answers

18k views

### Is Euclid dead?

Apparently Euclid died about 2,300 years ago (actually 2,288 to be more precise), but the title of the question refers to the rallying cry of Dieudonné, "A bas Euclide! Mort aux triangles!" (...

**76**

votes

**16**answers

7k views

### Short papers for undergraduate course on reading scholarly math

(I know this is perhaps only tangentially related to mathematics research, but I'm hoping it is worthy of consideration as a community wiki question.)
Today, I was reminded of the existence of this ...

**74**

votes

**14**answers

8k views

### How to write popular mathematics well? [closed]

Recently, some classmates and I were lamenting the fact that our classmates in other disciplines had almost no conception of what we did, despite the large mathematics population at Waterloo. Instead ...

**72**

votes

**15**answers

8k views

### Sophisticated treatments of topics in school mathematics

Sophisticated mathematical concepts typically shed light on sophisticated mathematics. But in a few cases they also apply to elementary mathematics in an interesting way. I find such examples ...

**71**

votes

**22**answers

11k views

### Are there proofs that you feel you did not “understand” for a long time?

Perhaps the "proofs" of ABC conjecture or newly released weak version of twin prime conjecture or alike readily come to your mind. These are not the proofs I am looking for. Indeed my question was ...

**67**

votes

**47**answers

23k views

### An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...

**67**

votes

**21**answers

21k views

### How should one present curl and divergence in an undergraduate multivariable calculus class?

I am a TA for a multivariable calculus class this semester. I have also TA'd this course a few times in the past. Every time I teach this course, I am never quite sure how I should present curl and ...

**67**

votes

**9**answers

17k views

### Relating Category Theory to Programming Language Theory

I'm wondering what the relation of category theory to programming language theory is.
I've been reading some books on category theory and topos theory, but if someone happens to know what the ...

**67**

votes

**8**answers

12k views

### What is Lagrange Inversion good for?

I am planning an introductory combinatorics course (mixed grad-undergrad) and am trying to decide whether it is worth budgeting a day for Lagrange inversion. The reason I hesitate is that I know of ...

**66**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Good ways to engage in mathematics outreach?

Greetings all, I have often heard that it would be good if we as a community did more in the way of mathematics outreach: more to explain what it is we do to the community at large, more to expose ...

**64**

votes

**20**answers

12k views

### What should we teach to liberal arts students who will take only one math course?

Even professors in academic departments other than mathematics---never mind other educated people---do not know that such a field as mathematics exists. Once a professor of medicine asked me whether ...

**63**

votes

**9**answers

5k views

### Taking “Zooming in on a point of a graph” seriously

In calculus classes it is sometimes said that the tangent line to a curve at a point is the line that we get by "zooming in" on that point with an infinitely powerful microscope. This explanation ...

**61**

votes

**10**answers

9k views

### Teaching proofs in the era of Google

Dear members,
Way back in the stone age when I was an undergraduate (the mid 90's), the internet was a germinal thing and that consisted of not much more than e-mail, ftp and the unix "talk" command ...

**60**

votes

**13**answers

9k views

### How do you approach your child's math education? [closed]

My son is one year old, so it is perhaps a bit too early to worry about his mathematical education, but I do. I would like to hear from mathematicians that have older children: What do you wish you'd ...

**57**

votes

**17**answers

11k views

### PhD dissertations that solve an established open problem

I search for a big list of open problems which have been solved in a PhD thesis by the Author of the thesis (or with collaboration of her/his supervisor).
In my question I search for every possible ...

**57**

votes

**1**answer

6k views

### Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

Edit (June 2015): Addressing this problem is a brief project report from the Illinois Geometry Lab (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), dated May 2015, that appears here along with a foot-...

**56**

votes

**34**answers

10k views

### Are there any books that take a 'theorems as problems' approach?

Are there any books that present theorems as problems? To be more specific, a book on elementary group theory might have written: "Theorem: Each group has exactly one identity" and then show a proof ...

**53**

votes

**11**answers

9k views

### Interesting results in algebraic geometry accessible to 3rd year undergraduates

On another thread I asked how I could encourage my final year undergraduate colleagues to take an algebraic geometry or complex analysis courses during their graduate studies.
Willie Wong proposed me ...

**52**

votes

**27**answers

10k views

### Nontrivial question about Fibonacci numbers?

I'm looking for a nontrivial, but not super difficult question concerning Fibonacci numbers. It should be at a level suitable for an undergraduate course.
Here is a (not so good) example of the sort ...

**52**

votes

**8**answers

9k views

### Why the Killing form?

I'm teaching a short summer course on algebraic groups and it's time to talk about the Killing form on the Lie algebra. The students are all undergrads of varying levels of inexperience, and I try to ...

**51**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### When exactly and why did matrix multiplication become a part of the undergraduate curriculum?

The story about Heisenberg inventing matrices and matrix multiplication in 1925 is very well known and well documented. A few weeks later, Born and Jordan read this work and recognized matrix ...

**50**

votes

**18**answers

7k views

### How can an extremely mathematically talented young person be helped to fulfill his/her potential?

Obviously, this question is not a research level mathematics question at all. But, I've just met an extremely mathematically talented 11 years old student and I don't know how I can help him. For ...

**50**

votes

**6**answers

9k views

### Why isn't integral defined as the area under the graph of function?

In order to define Lebesgue integral, we have to develop some measure theory. This takes some effort in the classroom, after which we need additional effort of defining Lebesgue integral (which also ...

**50**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### What algorithm in algebraic geometry should I work on implementing?

This summer my wife and one of my friends (who are both programmers and undergraduate math majors, but have not learned any algebraic geometry) want to learn some algebraic geometry from me, and I ...

**47**

votes

**14**answers

4k views

### Interactive model of the hyperbolic plane for a general public lecture

The following is not quite a research level question, but I still find this site appropriate for asking it. I hope I get it right here.
I am preparing a talk for a general public and I want to ...

**47**

votes

**10**answers

8k views

### Possibility of an Elementary Differential Geometry Course

I have to admit I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question. It's related to research in math education, but not directly to math.
I've found that in talking to professional physicists and ...

**46**

votes

**22**answers

16k views

### Why linear algebra is fun!(or ?)

Edit: the original poster is Menny, but the question is CW; the first-person pronoun refers to Menny, not to the most recent editor.
I'm doing an introductory talk on linear algebra with the ...

**45**

votes

**42**answers

14k views

### What should be offered in undergraduate mathematics that's currently not (or isn't usually)? [closed]

What's one class that mathematics that should be offered to undergraduates that isn't usually? One answer per post.
Ex: Just to throw some ideas out there
Mathematical Physics (for math students, not ...