Examples and counterexamples are great ways to learn about the intricacies of definitions in mathematics. Counterexamples are especially useful in topology and analysis where most things are fairly intuitive, but every now and then one may run into borderline cases where the naive intuition may ...

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361
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34answers
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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 ...
138
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1answer
7k views

How discontinuous can a derivative be?

There is a well-known result in elementary analysis due to Darboux which says if $f$ is a differentiable function then $f'$ satisfies the intermediate value property. To my knowledge, not many "...
28
votes
5answers
4k views

Examples and further results about the order of the product of two elements in a group

Let $G$ be a group and let $a,b$ be two elements of $G$. What can we say about the order of their product $ab$? Wikipedia says "not much": There is no general formula relating the order of a ...
62
votes
4answers
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Construct a function which is continuous in $[1,5]$ but not differentiable at $2, 3, 4$

Construct a function which is continuous in $[1,5]$ but not differentiable at $2, 3, 4$. This question is just after the definition of differentiation and the theorem that if $f$ is finitely ...
29
votes
3answers
7k views

Discontinuous linear functional

I'm trying to find a discontinuous linear functional into $\mathbb{R}$ as a prep question for a test. I know that I need an infinite-dimensional Vector Space. Since $\ell_2$ is infinite-dimensional, ...
21
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6answers
3k views

Perfect set without rationals

Give an example of a perfect set in $\mathbb R^n$ that does not contain any of the rationals. (Or prove that it does not exist).
79
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it possible for a function to be in $L^p$ for only one $p$?

I'm wondering if it's possible for a function to be an $L^p$ space for only one value of $p \in [1,\infty)$ (on either a bounded domain or an unbounded domain). One can use interpolation to show that ...
206
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 $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
34
votes
4answers
6k views

Is every Lebesgue measurable function on $\mathbb{R}$ the pointwise limit of continuous functions?

I know that if $f$ is a Lebesgue measurable function on $[a,b]$ then there exists a continuous function $g$ such that $|f(x)-g(x)|< \epsilon$ for all $x\in [a,b]\setminus P$ where the measure of $P$...
28
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2answers
2k views

Is there a function with infinite integral on every interval?

Could give some examples of nonnegative measurable function $f:\mathbb{R}\to[0,\infty)$, such that its integral over any bounded interval is infinite?
18
votes
5answers
4k views

A compact Hausdorff space that is not metrizable

Is there an example of a compact Hausdorff space that is not metrizable? I was thinking maybe the space of continuous functions $f: X \rightarrow Y$ between topological spaces $X, Y$, might work, but ...
38
votes
6answers
4k views

Does commutativity imply Associativity?

Does commutativity imply associativity? I'm asking this because I was trying to think of structures that are commutative but non-associative but couldn't come up with any. Are there any such examples? ...
34
votes
1answer
3k views

An example of a division ring $D$ that is **not** isomorphic to its opposite ring

I recall reading in an abstract algebra text two years ago (when I had the pleasure to learn this beautiful subject) that there exists a division ring $D$ that is not isomorphic to its opposite ring. ...
25
votes
6answers
9k views

Functions which are Continuous, but not Bicontinuous

What are some examples of functions which are continuous, but whose inverse is not continuous? nb: I changed the question after a few comments, so some of the below no longer make sense. Sorry.
14
votes
2answers
3k views

The direct sum of two closed subspace is closed? (Hilbert space)

I know that if $X$ is a Banach space, then, the direct sum of two closed subspace $X_1$ and $X_2$ is not necessarily closed. But what if $X$ is Hilbert? I assume there is something to do with the ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

Is every group the automorphism group of a group?

Suppose $G$ is a group. Does there always exist a group $H$, such that $\operatorname{Aut}(H)=G$, i. e. such that $G$ is the automorphism group of $H$? EDIT: It has been pointed out that the answer ...
28
votes
7answers
598 views

Function $f: \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ that takes each value in $\mathbb{R}$ three times

Does there exist a function $f: \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ that takes each value in $\mathbb{R}$ three times? If not, how could I prove that such a function does not exist?
25
votes
2answers
7k views

Lebesgue measurable but not Borel measurable

I'm trying to find a set which is Lebesgue measurable but not Borel measurable. So I was thinking of taking a Lebesgue set of measure zero and intersecting it with something so that the result is not ...
29
votes
8answers
2k views

Continuity $\Rightarrow$ Intermediate Value Property. Why is the opposite not true?

Continuity $\Rightarrow$ Intermediate Value Property. Why is the opposite not true? It seems to me like they are equal definitions in a way. Can you give me a counter-example? Thanks
12
votes
6answers
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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 ...
6
votes
3answers
10k views

How to use stars and bars (combinatorics)

How to use the stars and bars method? Say I want to find number of combinations I can get with $x_1+x_2+x_3+x_4=22$, where $x_i\in\mathbb{N}$. Is this the correct time to apply the method?
239
votes
30answers
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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
9k views

Lebesgue measurable set that is not a Borel measurable set

exact duplicate of Lebesgue measurable but not Borel measurable BUT! can you please translate Miguel's answer and expand it with a formal proof? I'm totally stuck... In short: Is there a Lebesgue ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Example of a function such that $\varphi\left(\frac{x+y}{2}\right)\leq \frac{\varphi(x)+\varphi(y)}{2}$ but $\varphi$ is not convex

Rudin's Real and Complex Analysis Chapter 3 Exercise 4 is: Assume that $\varphi$ is a continuous real function on $(a,b)$ s.t. $$\varphi\left(\frac{x+y}{2}\right)\leq \frac{\varphi(x)+\varphi(y)}{2}$$...
16
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6answers
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Connected metric spaces with at least 2 points are uncountable.

That's a problem I proved (quite a while back) in tiny Rudin. However, I don't really get it. The other questions were actually useful results - I don't think I've ever come near using this result. ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Construct a monotone function which has countably many discontinuities

I read in a textbook, which had seemed to have other dubious errors, that one may construct a monotone function with discontinuities at every point in a countable set $C \subset [a,b]$ by enumerating ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Is a semigroup $G$ with left identity and right inverses a group?

Hungerford's Algebra poses the question: Is it true that a semigroup $G$ that has a left identity element and in which every element has a right inverse is a group? Now, If both the identity and the ...
34
votes
5answers
7k views

Not every metric is induced from a norm

I have studied that every normed space $(V, \lVert\cdot \lVert)$ is a metric space with respect to distance function $d(u,v) = \lVert u - v \rVert$, $u,v \in V$. My question is whether every metric ...
38
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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
25
votes
5answers
998 views

Can we construct a function $f:\mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}$ such that it has intermediate value property and discontinuous everywhere?

Can we construct a function $f:\mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}$ such that it has intermediate value property and discontinuous everywhere? I think it is probable because we can consider $$ y = ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Derived subgroup where not every element is a commutator

Let $G$ be a group and let $G'$ be the derived subgroup, defined as the subgroup generated by the commutators of $G$. Is there an example of a finite group $G$ where not every element of $G'$ is a ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Open Mapping Theorem: counterexample

The Open Mapping Theorem says that a linear continuous surjection between Banach spaces is an open mapping. I am writing some lecture notes on the Open Mapping Theorem. I guess it would be nice to ...
10
votes
2answers
525 views

How do we prove that $\lfloor0.999\cdots\rfloor = \lfloor 1 \rfloor$?

Are the floor functions of $0.999\cdots$ and 1 equal? It is true that $0.999\cdots=1$ but how does one justifies the integer part of $0.999\cdots$ being 1 , where it is not, or alternatively without ...
4
votes
2answers
470 views

Making Tychonoff Corkscrew in Counterexamples in Topology rigorous?

I'm reading pages 109 and 110 of Seebach and Steen's Counterexamples in Topology (p. 61 here) and I don't understand one of their steps. In particular, at the bottom of page 109 they say, "by ...
8
votes
1answer
622 views

Examples of Baire class 2 functions

Do you know of examples of Baire class 2 functions which are not Baire class 1 functions, besides the the indicator function of the rationals and the indicator function of the Cantor set?
18
votes
2answers
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Intersection of finite number of compact sets is compact?

Is the the intersection of a finite number of compact sets is compact? If not please give a counter example to demonstrate this is not true. I said that this is true because the intersection of ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

Comparing the Lebesgue measure of an open set and its closure

Let $E$ be an open set in $[0,1]^n$ and $m$ be the Lebesgue measure. Is it possible that $m(E)\neq m(\bar{E})$, where $\bar{E}$ stands for the closure of $E$?
4
votes
4answers
594 views

Proving $f(C) \setminus f(D) \subseteq f(C \setminus D)$ and disproving equality

Let $f: A\longrightarrow B$ be a function. 1)Prove that for any two sets, $C,D\subseteq A$ , we have $f(C) \setminus f(D)\subseteq f(C\setminus D)$. 2)Give an example of a function $f$, and sets $C$...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Function whose image of every open interval is $(-\infty,\infty)$

How to find a function from reals to reals such that the image of every open interval is the whole of R? Is there one which maps rationals to rationals?
215
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 don't ...
164
votes
0answers
4k views

Does there exist a bijection of $\mathbb{R}^n$ with itself such that the forward map is connected but the inverse is not?

Let $(X,\tau), (Y,\sigma)$ be two topological spaces. We say that a map $f: \mathcal{P}(X)\to \mathcal{P}(Y)$ between their power sets is connected if for every $S\subset X$ connected, $f(S)\subset Y$ ...
40
votes
1answer
2k views

Counterexample Math Books

I have been able to find several counterexample books in some math areas. For example: $\bullet$ Counterexamples in Analysis, Bernard R. Gelbaum, John M. H. Olmsted $\bullet$ Counterexamples in ...
42
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12answers
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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 ...
26
votes
1answer
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Example of a Borel set that is neither $F_\sigma$ nor $G_\delta$

I'm looking for subset $A$ of $\mathbb R$ such that $A$ is a Borel set but $A$ is neither $F_\sigma$ nor $G_\delta$.
33
votes
5answers
2k views

Why does the Hilbert curve fill the whole square?

I have never seen a formal definition of the Hilbert curve, much less a careful analysis of why it fills the whole square. The Wikipedia and Mathworld articles are typically handwavy. I suppose the ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Compactly supported function whose Fourier transform decays exponentially?

It's well known now that a function can not be compactly supported both on the space side and the frequency side (so-called uncertainty principle). On the other hand a function can have exponential ...
10
votes
7answers
545 views

Constructing a family of distinct curves with identical area and perimeter

Two recent questions were posed by Arjuba [1] [2] asking for counter-examples regarding whether two different figures could have the same perimeter and area. Responders quickly raised a number of such ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Uniqueness of product measure (non $\sigma$-finite case)

Let $(X,\mathscr{A},\mu), (Y,\mathscr{B},\nu)$ be two measure spaces, then we have the product measurable space $(X\times Y, \mathscr{A}\times\mathscr{B})$ where $\mathscr{A}\times\mathscr{B}$ is the $...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Two CW complexes with isomorphic homotopy groups and homology, yet not homotopy equivalent

A standard example of two CW complexes which have isomorphic homotopy groups but are not homotopy equivalent is $ RP^2 \times S^3$ and $RP^3 \times S^2$. The easiest way to see that they are not ...