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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227
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26answers
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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 ...
68
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1answer
3k 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 ...
24
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4answers
3k 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 ...
49
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
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
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29answers
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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 $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
27
votes
1answer
1k 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. ...
16
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2answers
2k 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 $E$?
18
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2answers
1k 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?
27
votes
17answers
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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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
16
votes
4answers
687 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

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. ...
17
votes
9answers
493 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
11
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
3k 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, ...
6
votes
4answers
598 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
514 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
591 views

Examples of perfect sets.

Let $0\lt a\lt 1$. Can I get examples of of subsets of $[0,1]$ that are perfect sets, contains no intervals and has measure $1-a$. Well, I know by construction the Cantor set is perfect, contains ...
5
votes
1answer
142 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?
12
votes
4answers
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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 ...
7
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
294 views

A comparison between the fundamental groupoid and the fundamental group

Are there two path connected topological spaces $X,Y$ such that the fundamental groupoid of $X$ is not isomorphic to the fundamental groupoid of $Y$ but the fundamental group of $X$ is isomorphic to ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Non-unital rings: a few examples

Every ring I've ever heard of is unital, i. e., contains a (unique) element $a$ such that $xa = ax = x$ for every $x$ in it. However, some rings do not have such an element. What are they? P. S.: one ...
4
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2answers
383 views

Left and right ideals of $R=\left\{\bigl(\begin{smallmatrix}a&b\\0&c \end{smallmatrix}\bigr) : a\in\mathbb Z, \ b,c\in\mathbb Q\right\}$

If $$R=\left\{ \begin{pmatrix} a &b\\ 0 & c \end{pmatrix} \ : \ a \in \mathbb{Z}, \ b,c \in \mathbb{Q}\right\} $$ under usual addition and multiplication, then what are the left and right ...
8
votes
5answers
681 views

Are continuous functions monotonic for very small ranges?

So I am wondering, if we have a continuous function f and we take the range $[c,c+h]$ for $h \to 0$, is the function monotonic in that range?
6
votes
1answer
443 views

Sum of Cauchy Sequences Cauchy?

Let $(X,+)$ be an abelian group and $d$ a metric on $X$. Suppose $\{a_n\}$ and $\{b_n\}$ are Cauchy sequences. What conditions on the relation between the group operation and the metric are sufficient ...
3
votes
1answer
360 views

Spaces with equal homotopy groups but different homology groups?

Since it's fairly easy to come up with a two spaces that have different homotopy groups but the same homology groups ($S^2\times S^4$ and $\mathbb{C}\textrm{P}^3$). Are there any nice examples of ...
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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
425 views

Is there an easy example of a vector space which can not be endowed with the structure of a Banach space

Let $V$ be a real vector space. Is there always a norm on $V$ such that $V$ is complete with respect to this norm? If not, is there an easy counterexample?
18
votes
2answers
460 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
647 views

A (non-artificial) example of a ring without maximal ideals

As a brief overview of the below, I am asking for: An example of a ring with no maximal ideals that is not a zero ring. A proof (or counterexample) that $R:=C_0(\mathbb{R})/C_c(\mathbb{R})$ is a ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Famous uses of the inclusion-exclusion principle?

The standard textbook example of using the inclusion-exclusion principle is for solving the problem of derangement counting; using inclusion-exclusion (and some basic analysis) it can be shown that ...
11
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
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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 ...
2
votes
2answers
414 views

Sequentially closed $\implies$ closed, but not Fréchet-Urysohn space

My apologies for the confusion... I guess I'm asking when a sequential space fails to be an Fréchet-Urysohn space.
23
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10answers
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Examples of nonabelian groups.

Can anybody provide some examples of finite nonabelian groups which are not symmetric groups or dihedral groups?
25
votes
1answer
695 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
506 views

Is every function with the intermediate value property a derivative?

As it is well known every continuous function has the intermediate value property, but even some discontinuous functions like $$f(x)=\left\{ \begin{array}{cl} \sin\left(\frac{1}{x}\right) & x\neq ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
468 views

Smash product of pointed spaces is not associative

I've read many times that the smash product of pointed topological spaces is not associative, for example $\mathbb{N} \wedge (\mathbb{Q} \wedge \mathbb{Q})$ is not homeomorphic to $(\mathbb{N} \wedge ...
16
votes
2answers
755 views

Clarifying the relationship between outer measures, measures and measurable spaces: the converse direction

This is related to my measure theory class, but it's not homework. The motivation behind this post is to understand the exact relationship between the three objects mentioned in the title. ...
15
votes
5answers
722 views

Can two topological spaces surject onto each other but not be homeomorphic?

Let $X$ and $Y$ be topological spaces and $f:X\rightarrow Y$ and $g:Y\rightarrow X$ be surjective continuous maps. Is it necessarily true that $X$ and $Y$ are homeomorphic? I feel like the answer to ...
12
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2answers
622 views

Set of zeroes of the derivative of a pathological function

For a continuous function $f : [0,1] \to {\mathbb R}$, let us set $$ X_f=\lbrace x \in [0,1] \bigg| f'(x)=0 \rbrace $$ (for a $x\not\in X_f$, $f'(x)$ may be a nonzero value or undefined). There ...
19
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1answer
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Isomorphic quotients by isomorphic normal subgroups

In this recent question, Iota asked if, given a finite group $G$ and two isomorphic normal subgroups $H$ and $K$, it would follow that $G/H$ and $G/K$ are isomorphic. This is not true (a simple ...
9
votes
1answer
114 views

Is there an infinite connected topological space such that every space obtained by removing one point from it is totally disconnected?

The particular point topology on any set is connected, but on removing the particular point, the complement is discrete, and hence totally disconnected. Although this is not even $T^1$, Cantor's leaky ...
11
votes
1answer
565 views

Does separability follow from weak-* sequential separability of dual space?

Let $E$ be a Banach space. Suppose that $E'$ is weakly-* sequentially separable, that is, that there exists a countable $D \subset E'$ s.t. every $x' \in E'$ is a limit point of a ...
4
votes
2answers
173 views

Normal products of groups with maximal nilpotency class

Let $H$ be a nilpotent group of class $a$ and $K$ a nilpotent group of class $b$. If $H$ and $K$ are normal subgroups of a group $G$, then we know that $HK$ is a normal nilpotent subgroup of $G$ and ...