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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319
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34answers
19k 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 ...
106
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
50
votes
4answers
14k views

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 ...
171
votes
32answers
9k 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 $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
61
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
32
votes
1answer
2k 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. ...
28
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
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?
13
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
206
votes
29answers
15k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
4k 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, ...
25
votes
8answers
1k 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
19
votes
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 $E$?
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 ...
7
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
3k 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. ...
14
votes
6answers
388 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?
190
votes
28answers
18k 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 ...
36
votes
18answers
7k 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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
23
votes
5answers
883 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

compactness / sequentially compact

I'm looking for two examples: A space which is compact but not sequentially compact A space which is sequentially compact but not compact Explanations why the spaces are compact / not compact and ...
15
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
778 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 ...
5
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
327 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
395 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?
41
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 ...
15
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
10
votes
7answers
514 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 ...
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
159 views

Generalized Riemann Integral: Bounded Nonexample?

Reference For a convergence theorem on integral see: Riemann Integral: Uniform Convergence For an improper version of integral see: Riemann Integral: Improper Version For a comparison of integrals ...
2
votes
3answers
3k 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?
7
votes
3answers
904 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
573 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 ...
36
votes
13answers
3k views

An easy example of a non-constructive proof without an obvious “fix”?

I wanted to give an easy example of a non-constructive proof, or, more precisely, of a proof which states that an object exists, but gives no obvious recipe to create/find it. Euclid's proof of the ...
21
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
17
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

What is an example that a function is differentiable but derivative is not Riemann integrable

I have two questions that i'm curious about. If $f$ is differentiable real function on its domain, then $f'$ is Riemann integrable. If $g$ is a real function with intermediate value property, then ...
8
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
204 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
2answers
400 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
930 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?
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there an example of a sigma algebra that is not a topology?

Is there an example of a sigma algebra that is not a topology? If this is not the case, is it possible to prove that all sigma algebras are topologies?
4
votes
2answers
542 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
740 views

Are there any countable Hausdorff connected spaces?

Do countable Hausdorff connected topological spaces exist?
4
votes
1answer
617 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 ...
75
votes
11answers
3k views

Problems that become easier in a more general form

When solving a problem, we often look at some special cases first, then try to work our way up to the general case. It would be interesting to see some counterexamples to this mental process, i.e. ...
35
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...