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770
votes
250answers
204k 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 ...
40
votes
5answers
4k views

Finding a 1-form adapted to a smooth flow

Let $M$ be a smooth compact manifold, and let $X$ be a smooth vector field of $M$ that is nowhere vanishing, thus one can think of the pair $(M,X)$ as a smooth flow with no fixed points. Let us say ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Limit cycles as closed geodesics(in negatively or positively curved space)

EDIT: Here is a related post which concern quadratic vector fields rather than Van der pol equation. In this linked post we see that the convexity of limit cycle play a crucial role. On ...
184
votes
12answers
25k 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 ...
69
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
293
votes
105answers
58k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
303
votes
21answers
43k 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 differ, ...
261
votes
42answers
77k views

Widely accepted mathematical results that were later shown to be wrong?

Are there 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 later, possibly ...
236
votes
33answers
27k views

Which journals publish expository work?

I wonder if anyone else has noticed that the market for expository papers in mathematics is very narrow (more so than it used to be, perhaps). Are there any journals which publish expository work, ...
30
votes
2answers
3k 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 4/...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Non weakly-group-theoretical integral fusion category

Is there an integral fusion category of rank $7$, FPdim $210$ and type $(1,5,5,5,6,7,7)$ with the following fusion rules (or the little $\color{purple}{\text{variation}}$ below)? $$\small{\begin{...
37
votes
3answers
2k views

How to constructively/combinatorially prove Schur-Weyl duality?

How is Schur-Weyl duality (specifically, the fact that the actions of the group ring $\mathbb{K}\left[ S_{n}\right] $ and the monoid ring $\mathbb{K}\left[ \left( \operatorname*{End}V,\cdot\...
15
votes
1answer
2k 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 (Izumi-Longo-...
13
votes
3answers
1k 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 n{...
169
votes
42answers
52k 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 ...
108
votes
57answers
21k views

Important formulas in Combinatorics

Motivation: The poster for the conference celebrating Noga Alon's 60th birthday, fifteen formulas describing some of Alon's work are presented. (See this post, for the poster, and cash prizes offered ...
65
votes
12answers
9k 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 ...
87
votes
5answers
12k 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
2answers
7k 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 ...
45
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
39
votes
2answers
4k 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 $p$-...
28
votes
1answer
899 views

Are the Sierpiński cardinal $\acute{\mathfrak n}$ and its measure modification $\acute{\mathfrak m}$ equal to some known small uncountable cardinals?

This question was motivated by an answer to this question of Dominic van der Zypen. It relates to the following classical theorem of Sierpiński. Theorem (Sierpiński, 1921). For any countable ...
2
votes
0answers
350 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 ...
195
votes
67answers
91k 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 ...
163
votes
48answers
54k 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: ...
180
votes
15answers
43k 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 ...
121
votes
34answers
29k views

Computer Algebra Errors

In the course of doing mathematics, I make extensive use of computer-based calculations. There's one CAS that I use mostly, even though I occasionally come across out-and-out wrong answers. After ...
150
votes
7answers
12k 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 $$ {\Aut}^n(G):= \Aut(\Aut(...\Aut(G)...)) $$ ...
76
votes
11answers
53k views

Sum of 'the first k' binomial coefficients for fixed n

I am interested in the function $$f(N,k)=\sum_{i=0}^{k} {N \choose i}$$ for fixed $N$ and $0 \leq k \leq N $. Obviously it equals 1 for $k = 0$ and $2^{N}$ for $k = N$, but are there any other ...
55
votes
4answers
56k 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 the matrices are Hermitian and positive definite? I am ...
40
votes
2answers
4k views

What interesting/nontrivial results in Algebraic geometry require the existence of universes?

Brian Conrad indicated a while ago that many of the results proven in AG using universes can be proven without them by being very careful (link). I'm wondering if there are any results in AG that ...
35
votes
4answers
5k views

Which number fields are monogenic? and related questions

A number field $K$ is said to be monogenic when $\mathcal{O}_K=\mathbb{Z}[\alpha]$ for some $\alpha\in\mathcal{O}_K$. What is currently known about which $K$ are monogenic? Which are not? From Marcus'...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Uniqueness of compactification of an end of a manifold

Let $M$ be an $n$-dimensional manifold (smooth or topological). I call $\bar{M}$ a compactification of $M$ if it is an $n$-dimensional compact manifold with boundary $\partial \bar{M}$, an $(n-1)$-...
7
votes
0answers
3k views

Is the conjecture A+B=C following correct?

Is the conjecture on A+B=C following correct ? Conjecture: Let $A, B, C$ be three positive integer numbers such that $A+B=C$ with $\gcd(A, B, C) = 1$. By Fundamental theorem of arithmetic we write: ...
10
votes
2answers
942 views

Elliptic operators corresponds to non vanishing vector fields

Added, June 19, 2019: The main motivation of this post is to associate an index to differential operator associated to a dynamical system such that the index has an interesting ...
18
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
780 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 “...
15
votes
0answers
717 views

“Special” meanders

One of the open problems in combinatorics is enumeration of meanders. Here on MO I only could find them under the heading not-especially-famous-long-open-problems-which-anyone-can-understand. Since ...
15
votes
2answers
582 views

Kolmogorov superposition for smooth functions

Kolmogorov superposition theorem states that a continuous function $f(x_1,\ldots,x_n)$ can be written as $$f(x_1,\ldots,x_n)=\sum_{q=0}^{2n}\Phi_q\left(\sum_{p=1}^{n}\phi_{q,p}(x_p)\right)$$ for ...
180
votes
35answers
115k 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 ...
252
votes
34answers
62k 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 ...
95
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
83
votes
2answers
4k views

$A$ is isomorphic to $A \oplus \mathbb{Z}^2$, but not to $A \oplus \mathbb{Z}$

Are there abelian groups $A$ with $A \cong A \oplus \mathbb{Z}^2$ and $A \not\cong A \oplus \mathbb{Z}$?
57
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
40
votes
6answers
6k views

Generating finite simple groups with $2$ elements

Here is a very natural question: Q: Is it always possible to generate a finite simple group with only $2$ elements? In all the examples that I can think of the answer is yes. If the answer is ...
16
votes
7answers
8k 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 $\...
37
votes
8answers
3k views

Can a problem be simultaneously polynomial time and undecidable?

The Robertson-Seymour theorem on graph minors leads to some interesting conundrums. The theorem states that any minor-closed class of graphs can be described by a finite number of excluded minors. As ...
31
votes
2answers
7k 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.. For Mathematical ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Hecke equidistribution

For a prime $p\equiv 1\pmod{4}$, we can write $p=a^2+b^2=N(a+bi)$. Therefore $$ a+bi=p^{1/2}e^{i\varphi} $$ where $\varphi\in [0,2\pi]$. I know that Hecke proved that $\varphi$ is equidistributed. I ...

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