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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260
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31answers
15k 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 ...
79
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
52
votes
4answers
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 ...
28
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. ...
173
votes
30answers
12k 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 ...
146
votes
29answers
8k 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 $$\frac{64}{16}.$$ ...
20
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?
17
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 $E$?
18
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, ...
13
votes
1answer
657 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 ...
29
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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...
22
votes
5answers
750 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
663 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
535 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 ...
10
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
794 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 ...
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. ...
12
votes
6answers
285 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?
156
votes
21answers
14k 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
415 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
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
694 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
649 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
225 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?
27
votes
5answers
714 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
7
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
322 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
742 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?
4
votes
2answers
399 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
459 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
429 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 ...
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 ...
19
votes
2answers
856 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. ...
17
votes
2answers
746 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
671 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
460 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?
14
votes
2answers
482 views

The “Easiest” non-smoothable manifold

In 1960, Kervaire found the first example of a PL-manifold which does not admit a smooth structure. Since then, I understand that there are many examples of non-smoothable manifolds that can be built. ...
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
2k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
940 views

Example of two open balls such that the one with the smaller radius contains the one with the larger radius.

Example of two open balls such that the one with the smaller radius contains the one with the larger radius. I cannot find a metric space in which this is true. Looking for hints in the right ...
3
votes
1answer
197 views

Counterexample for a non-measurable function?

I am struggling to solve an exercise in my measure theory book and any help for solving it would be appreciated: Let $(\Omega,\mathcal{A},\mu)$ be a measure space and let $f:\Omega \to \mathbb{R}$ ...
4
votes
1answer
339 views

Counterexample for the Open Mapping Theorem

I would like to ask a counterexample for the open mapping theorem: Find a discontinuous linear mapping $T:X \to Y$ such that $T(X)=Y$ and $X,\;Y$ are Banach but $T$ is not open. Could you help me ...
2
votes
2answers
457 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 Fr├ęchet-Urysohn space.
28
votes
9answers
5k views

Examples of nonabelian groups.

Can anybody provide some examples of finite nonabelian groups which are not symmetric groups or dihedral groups?