Questions asking for a "big list" of examples, illustrations, etc. Ask only when the topic is compelling, and please do not use this as the only tag for a question.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

398
votes
30answers
46k views

Different methods to compute $\sum\limits_{k=1}^\infty \frac{1}{k^2}$

As I have heard people did not trust Euler when he first discovered the formula (solution of the Basel problem) $$\zeta(2)=\sum_{k=1}^\infty \frac{1}{k^2}=\frac{\pi^2}{6}.$$ However, Euler was Euler ...
357
votes
33answers
22k views

Examples of apparent patterns that eventually fail

Often, when I try to describe mathematics to the layman, I find myself struggling to convince them of the importance and consequence of 'proof'. I receive responses like: "surely if the Collatz ...
62
votes
12answers
23k views

Any open subset of $\Bbb R$ is a at most countable union of disjoint open intervals. [Collecting Proofs]

This question has probably been asked. However, I am not interested in just getting the answer to it. Rather, I am interested in collecting as many different proofs of it which are as diverse as ...
110
votes
19answers
18k views

Striking applications of integration by parts

What are your favorite applications of integration by parts? (The answers can be as lowbrow or highbrow as you wish. I'd just like to get a bunch of these in one place!) Thanks for your ...
43
votes
13answers
3k views

Proofs of AM-GM inequality

The arithmetic - geometric mean inequality states that $$\frac{x_1+ \ldots + x_n}{n} \geq \sqrt[n]{x_1 \cdots x_n}$$ I'm looking for some original proofs of this inequality. I can find the usual ...
7
votes
5answers
684 views

Proof writing: how to write a clear induction proof?

What is an effective way to write induction proofs? Essentially, are there any good examples or templates of induction proofs that may be helpful (for beginners, non-English-native students, etc.)? ...
67
votes
19answers
12k views

Different ways to prove there are infinitely many primes?

This is just a curiosity. I have come across multiple proofs of the fact that there are infinitely many primes, some of them were quite trivial, but some others were really, really fancy. I'll show ...
59
votes
17answers
35k views

What is the most elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem? [closed]

The Pythagorean Theorem is one of the most popular to prove by mathematicians, and there are many proofs available (including one from James Garfield). What's the most elegant proof? My favorite ...
24
votes
9answers
39k views

“Where” exactly are complex numbers used “in the real world”?

I've always enjoyed solving problems in the complex numbers during my undergrad. However, I've always wondered where are they used and for what? In my domain (computer science) I've rarely seen it be ...
697
votes
53answers
417k views

Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain

Since I'm not that good at (as I like to call it) 'die-hard-mathematics', I've always liked concepts like the golden ratio or the dragon curve, which are easy to understand and explain, but are ...
84
votes
8answers
18k views

Lesser-known integration tricks

I am currently studying for the GRE math subject test, which heavily tests calculus. I've reviewed most of the basic calculus techniques (integration by parts, trig substitutions, etc.) I am now ...
616
votes
160answers
38k views

What was the first bit of mathematics that made you realize that math is beautiful? (For children's book)

I'm a children's book writer and illustrator, and I want to to create a book for young readers that exposes the beauty of mathematics. I recently read Paul Lockhart's essay "The Mathematician's ...
197
votes
32answers
11k views

Can't argue with success? Looking for “bad math” that “gets away with it”

I'm looking for cases of invalid math operations producing (in spite of it all) correct results (aka "every math teacher's nightmare"). One example would be "cancelling" the 6s in $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
47
votes
5answers
12k views

(Theoretical) Multivariable Calculus Textbooks [duplicate]

(Note that I have used bold text frequently simply to highlight the key points of my question for those who do not have the time to read through it thoroughly (it is not very long, however); I hope ...
103
votes
23answers
23k views
90
votes
24answers
71k views

Software for drawing geometry diagrams

What software do you use to accurately draw geometry diagrams?
77
votes
12answers
11k views

Conjectures that have been disproved with extremely large counterexamples?

I just came back from my Number Theory course, and during the lecture there was mention of the Collatz Conjecture. I'm sure that everyone here is familiar with it; it describes an operation on a ...
212
votes
64answers
50k views

'Obvious' theorems that are actually false

It's one of my real analysis professor's favourite sayings that "being obvious does not imply that it's true". Now, I know a fair few examples of things that are obviously true and that can be proved ...
65
votes
8answers
12k views

Are there real world applications of finite group theory?

I would like to know whether there are examples where finite group theory can be directly applied to solve real world problems outside of mathematics. (Sufficiently applied mathematics such as ...
26
votes
12answers
8k views

How to prove every closed interval in R is compact?

Let $[a,b]\subseteq \mathbb R$. As we know, it is compact. This is a very important result. However, the proof for the result may be not familar to us. Here I want to collect the ways to prove $[a,b]$ ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

Do We Need the Digits of $\pi$?

I was reading today that someone found $\pi$ to the ten trillionth digit. Whenever I read that $\pi$ has been calculated to more digits, I ask myself whether this is useful. I know that there are ...
149
votes
27answers
26k views

Best Fake Proofs? (A M.SE April Fools Day collection) [closed]

In honor of April Fools Day 2013, I'd like this question to collect the best, most convincing fake proofs of impossibilities you have seen. I've posted one as an answer below. I'm also thinking of a ...
109
votes
20answers
13k views

Your favourite application of the Baire Category Theorem

I think I remember reading somewhere that the Baire Category Theorem is supposedly quite powerful. Whether that is true or not, it's my favourite theorem (so far) and I'd love to see some applications ...
207
votes
92answers
18k views

Surprising identities / equations [closed]

What are some surprising equations / identities that you have seen, which you would not have expected? This could be complex numbers, trigonometric identities, combinatorial results, algebraic ...
46
votes
10answers
54k views

What is the best book for studying discrete mathematics?

As a programmer, mathematics is important basic knowledge to study some topics, especially Algorithms. Many websites, and my fellows suggest me to study Discrete Mathematics before going to ...
35
votes
12answers
18k views

Good books on mathematical logic?

I just started to learn mathematical logic. I'm a graduate student. I need a book with relatively more examples. Any recommendation?
59
votes
22answers
7k views

What is your favorite application of the Pigeonhole Principle?

The pigeonhole principle states that if $n$ items are put into $m$ "pigeonholes" with $n > m$, then at least one pigeonhole must contain more than one item. I'd like to see your favorite ...
34
votes
10answers
6k views

Seeking a layman's guide to Measure Theory

I would like to teach myself measure theory. Unfortunately most of the books that I've come across are very difficult and are quick to get into Lemmas and proofs. Can someone please recommend a ...
31
votes
3answers
1k views

Create a Huge Problem

I am wondering if any problems have been designed that test a wide range of mathematical skills. For example, I remember doing the integral $$\int \sqrt{\tan x}\;\mathrm{d}x$$ and being impressed at ...
152
votes
91answers
42k views

Which one result in mathematics has surprised you the most? [closed]

A large part of my fascination in mathematics is because of some very surprising results that I have seen there. I remember one I found very hard to swallow when I first encountered it, was what is ...
48
votes
10answers
13k views

Best Algebraic Geometry text book? (other than Hartshorne)

Lifted from Mathoverflow: 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, ...
44
votes
6answers
40k views

Good books for self-studying algebra?

I have a few weeks off from school soon, and I was hoping to self-study a bit of algebra. I don't think this question has been asked on here before, but does anyone have any suggestions for algebra ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Examples of non symmetric distances

It is well known that the symmetric property is $d(x,y)=d(y,x)$ is not necessary in the definition of distance if the triangle inequality is carefully stated. On the other hand there are examples of ...
4
votes
1answer
306 views

Seemingly hard integrals which are made easy via differentiation under the integral sign a.k.a Feynman Integration [closed]

I recently discovered Differentiation under the integral sign a.k.a Feynman Integration and I read an article which says it can be substituted for contour integration. Therefore, I am assuming this ...
203
votes
65answers
14k views

Funny identities [closed]

Here is a funny exercise $$\sin(x - y) \sin(x + y) = (\sin x - \sin y)(\sin x + \sin y).$$ (If you prove it don't publish it here please). Do you have similar examples?
234
votes
29answers
18k views

A challenge by R. P. Feynman: give counter-intuitive theorems that can be translated into everyday language

The following is a quote from Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman . The question is: are there any interesting theorems that you think would be a good example to tell Richard Feynman, as an answer to ...
213
votes
29answers
20k views

Nice examples of groups which are not obviously groups

I am searching for some groups, where it is not so obvious that they are groups. In the lectures script there are only examples like $\mathbb{Z}$ under addition and other things like that. I ...
69
votes
17answers
29k views

Real life applications of Topology

The other day I and my friend were having an argument. He was saying that there is no real life application of Topology at all whatsoever. I want to disprove him, so posting the question here What ...
53
votes
10answers
2k views

Fake induction proofs

Question: Can you provide an example of a claim where the base case holds but there is a subtle flaw in the inductive step that leads to a fake proof of a clearly erroneous result? [Note: Please do ...
51
votes
13answers
3k views

Pseudo Proofs that are intuitively reasonable

What are nice "proofs" of true facts that are not really rigorous but give the right answer and still make sense on some level? Personally, I consider them to be guilty pleasures. Here are examples ...
25
votes
14answers
11k views
14
votes
1answer
15k views

Best Book For Differential Equations?

I know this is a subjective question, but I need some opinions on a very good book for learning differential equations. Ideally it should have a variety of problems with worked solutions and be ...
7
votes
1answer
479 views

Bounds for $n$-th prime

In this Wikipedia page I have found that the bounds for $n$-th prime is given by, $$n(\ln n+\ln \ln n)>p_n>n(\ln n+\ln \ln n-1)$$ for all $n\ge6$. Are there even stronger bounds for the $n$-th ...
7
votes
8answers
1k views

Fundamental Theorem of Trigonometry [closed]

This is a pretty open ended question and I apologize, in advance, if this is not the place for it. But what do you recommend should be given the title of the Fundamental Theorem of Trigonometry and ...
100
votes
4answers
16k views

Books that every student “needs” to go through

I'm still a student, but the same books keep getting named by my tutors (Rudin, Royden). I've read Baby Rudin and begun Royden though I'm unsure if there are other books that I "should" be working on ...
155
votes
28answers
30k views

List of Interesting Math Videos/ Documentaries

This is an offshoot of the question on Fun math outreach/social activities. I have listed a few videos/documentaries I have seen. I would appreciate if people could add on to this list. Story of ...
37
votes
19answers
9k views

Examples of mathematical induction

What are the best examples of mathematical induction available at the secondary-school level---totally elementary---that do not involve expressions of the form $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
19
votes
10answers
2k views

Reference for general-topology

Though there are several posts discussing the reference books for topology, for example best book for topology. But as far as I looked up to, all of them are for the purpose of learning topology or ...
15
votes
4answers
6k views

What are some classic fallacious proofs? [duplicate]

If you know it, also try to include the precise reason why the proof is fallacious. To start this off, let me post the one that most people know already: Let $a = b$. Then $a^2 = ab$ $a^2 - b^2 = ...
114
votes
10answers
9k views

Really advanced techniques of integration (definite or indefinite)

Okay, so everyone knows the usual methods of solving integrals, namely u-substitution, integration by parts, partial fractions, trig substitutions, and reduction formulas. But what else is there? ...