Questions asking for a "big list" of examples, illustrations, etc. Please do not ask too many of these. Please do not use this as the only tag for a question.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

191
votes
21answers
16k views

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

As I have heard people did not trust Euler when he first discovered the formula $$\zeta(2)=\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^2}=\frac{\pi^2}{6}.$$ However, Euler was Euler and he gave other proofs. I ...
65
votes
18answers
7k 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 ...
227
votes
26answers
10k 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 ...
38
votes
15answers
8k views

What is the most elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem?

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 ...
68
votes
27answers
21k views

Best book ever on Number Theory

Which is the single best book for Number Theory that everyone who loves Mathematics should read?
28
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
64
votes
19answers
28k views

Software for drawing geometry diagrams

What software do you use to accurately draw geometry diagrams?
18
votes
7answers
4k views

Any open subset of $\Bbb R$ is a 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
21k 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 ...
21
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
9k views

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

I've always enjoyed solving problems in the complex world 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 ...
162
votes
30answers
11k 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 ...
139
votes
29answers
7k 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 $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
32
votes
10answers
6k 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, ...
29
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
43
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 ...
38
votes
17answers
4k 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 ...
385
votes
131answers
23k 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 ...
135
votes
60answers
10k views

Funny identities

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?
112
votes
23answers
11k 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 ...
129
votes
91answers
36k 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 ...
47
votes
17answers
9k views
63
votes
18answers
6k 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
11k 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 ...
46
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
27
votes
17answers
5k 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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
7
votes
12answers
4k views

Introductory Group theory textbook

What textbook is good for introductory group theory?
15
votes
4answers
614 views

Advice for writing good mathematics?

It's been a (far-fetched, possibly) goal of mine to some day write a math Textbook. I've been thinking about writing this question for a while, but reading an exceedingly mediocre text on Mathematical ...
6
votes
5answers
356 views

Provide different proofs for the following equality.

Let $a$ and $b$ be positive reals. Show that $$\lim\limits_{n\to\infty} \left(\frac{a^{\frac{1}{n}}+b^{\frac{1}{n}}}{2}\right)^n =\sqrt{ab}$$
47
votes
7answers
6k 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 ...
40
votes
14answers
2k views

Surprising Generalizations

I just learned (thanks to Harry Gindi's answer on MO and to Qiaochu Yuan's blog post on AoPS) that the chinese remainder theorem and Lagrange interpolation are really just two instances of the same ...
320
votes
41answers
139k 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 ...
129
votes
36answers
11k views

Fun but serious mathematics books to gift advanced undergraduates.

I am looking for fun, interesting mathematics textbooks which would make good studious holiday gifts for advanced mathematics undergraduates or beginning graduate students. They should be serious but ...
115
votes
27answers
14k 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 ...
102
votes
19answers
6k views

Are there any open mathematical puzzles?

Are there any (mathematical) puzzles that are still unresolved? I only mean questions that are accessible to and understandable by the complete layman and which have not been solved, despite serious ...
25
votes
10answers
8k 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?
44
votes
20answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Categories of mathematics

I am interested in understanding how mathematics is divided into many categories, such as what categories are particular cases of what, what categories do not or have little overlap with what. This is ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

Prerequisites/Books for A First Course in Linear Algebra

What mathematical knowledge do I need to begin studying linear algebra? In particular, how much calculus do I need to know? Also, do you have a favorite linear algebra book you can recommend?
5
votes
6answers
252 views

Fundamental Theorem of Trigonometry

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
111 views

Example relations: pairwise versus mutual

There are by now several questions on math.se asking about pairwise versus mutual relations, eg: • When does “pairwise” strengthen and when does it weaken? • Relation: pairwise and mutually • ...
132
votes
72answers
11k views

Surprising identities / equations

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 ...
138
votes
21answers
12k 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 ...
48
votes
21answers
2k views

Your favourite maths puzzles

Okay, so this question was bound to come up sooner or later- the hope was to ask it well before someone asked it badly... We all love a good puzzle To a certain extent, any piece of mathematics is a ...
35
votes
24answers
12k views

Best Maths books for non-mathematicians

I'm not a real Mathematician, just an enthusiast. I'm often in the situation where I want to learn some interesting Maths through a good book, but not through an actual Maths textbook. I'm also often ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

Good books on Math History

I'm trying to find good books on the history of mathematics, dating as far back as possible. There was a similar question here Good books on Philosophy of Mathematics, but mostly pertaining to ...
38
votes
19answers
4k views

Theorems' names that don't credit the right people

The point of this question is to compile a list of theorems that don't give credit to right people in the sense that the name(s) of the mathematician(s) who first proved the theorem doesn't (do not) ...
40
votes
12answers
2k views

Examples of results failing in higher dimensions

A number of economists do not appreciate rigor in their usage of mathematics and I find it very discouraging. One of the examples of rigor-lacking approach are proofs done via graphs or pictures ...
20
votes
15answers
3k views

Useful examples of pathological functions

What are some particularly well-known functions that exhibit pathological behavior at or near at least one value and are particularly useful as examples? For instance, if $f'(a) = b$, then $f(a)$ ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

List of problem books in undergraduate and graduate mathematics

I would like to know some good problem books in various branches of undergraduate and graduate mathematics like group theory, galois theory, commutative algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, ...