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44
votes
10answers
5k views

What is $dx$ in integration?

When I was at school and learning integration in maths class at A Level my teacher wrote things like this on the board. $$\int f(x)\, dx$$ When he came to explain the meaning of the $dx$, he told us ...
-1
votes
1answer
194 views

Could we assign a numerical value to an infinitesimal?

The common definition of 'infinitesimal' is that they are quantities that are too small to be measured or perceived. If we base the mathematically definition entirely on the common definition it ...
10
votes
5answers
262 views

Is line element mathematically rigorous?

I know differentials (in a way of standard analysis) are not very rigorous in mathematics, there are a lot of amazing answers here on the topic. But what about line element? $$ds^2 = dx^2 + dy^2 ...
14
votes
2answers
745 views

Are infinitesimals dangerous?

Amir Alexander is a historian of mathematics. His new book is entitled "Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World". See here. Two questions: (1) In what sense are ...
4
votes
3answers
178 views

How $\frac{dx}{dy}=f(x)g(y) \Leftrightarrow \int \frac{dx}{f(x)} = \int g(y)dy$?

In my intro differential equations class we have often used the "equivalence" stated in title. It seems to me that somehow, the intermediate step $$ \frac{dx}{f(x)} = g(y)dy$$ is being used, in which ...
6
votes
6answers
817 views

What does limit actually mean?

I have been in a deep confusion for about a month over the topic of limits! According to our book the limit at $a$ is the value being approached by a function $f(x)$ as $x$ approaches $a$ I have a ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

Why every member of ${}^{*}\mathbb{R}$ is infinitely close to some member of ${}^{*}\mathbb{Q}$

Let $\mathbb{Q}$ be the set of rational numbers. Show that every member of ${}^{*}\mathbb{R}$ is infinitely close to some member of ${}^{*}\mathbb{Q}$. This is an exercise on page 180, A ...
13
votes
3answers
456 views

Who gave you the epsilon?

Who gave you the epsilon? is the title of an article by J. Grabiner on Cauchy from the 1980s, and the implied answer is "Cauchy". On the other hand, historian I. Grattan-Guinness points out in his ...
0
votes
5answers
232 views

What is the name of $0.\overline{0}1$

Short question: What is the name of the number closest but not equal to zero? Long question: Some programmers were discussing about the smallest number close to zero, which is ...
4
votes
0answers
82 views

Defining “Penon Infinitesimals”.

In this lecture (which is accompanied by these slides), right near the end (so page 9 in the pdf of the slides; I don't think you have to watch the lecture), P. Johnstone refers to the "Penon ...
2
votes
2answers
219 views

Nilpotent infinitesimals comparison

I'd like to understand better the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches to nilpotent infinitesimal numbers and their application to differential geometry in the context of physics and ...
1
vote
1answer
948 views

little-o and its properties

I know that $f(x) = o(g(x))$ for $x \to \infty $ if (and only if) $\lim_{x \to \infty}\frac{f(x)}{g(x)}=0$ Which means than $f(x)$ has a order of growth less than that of $g(x)$. 1) I'm still ...