Mathematical intuition is the instinctive impression regarding mathematical ideas which originate naturally without regard to formal mathematical proofs. It may or may not stem from a cognitive rational process.

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Does a four-variable analog of the Hall-Witt identity exist?

Lately I have been thinking about commutator formulas, sparked by rereading the following paragraph in Isaacs (p.125): An amazing commutator formula is the Hall-Witt identity: ...
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How strong is the analogy between spectra and abelian groups?

I am led to understand that spectra are some kind of $\infty$-analogue of (discrete) abelian groups, or perhaps more accurately, some kind of generalisation of chain complexes of abelian groups. How ...
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Behaviour at infinity of a function in terms of first and second derivatives

In a paper (dealing with spectra of certain Schrodinger operators) I found the following assumption for a function $f\in C^\infty(\mathbb R^n;\mathbb R)$: there exists a constant $C>0$ and a ...
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Why are injective $\mathscr{O}$-modules flasque?

Let $X$ be a topological space, and let $\mathscr{O}$ be a sheaf of rings on $X$. It is easy to verify that the functor $\Gamma (U, -) : \textbf{Mod}(\mathscr{O}) \to \textbf{Ab}$ is representable, ...
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Apple game question

Player A and Player B play a game. On the middle of the table there is a pot full of $N$ apples of different weights. Player A starts first and chooses an apple and starts eating it. Losing no time ...
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Questions on Answer to “The cardinality of the set of all finite subsets of an infinite set”

Would someone please enlarge on Arturo Magidin's original answer ? $1.$ Say the question didn't divulge $|S| = |X|$. Then how can $|S|$ be determined? Any intuition? I recast it below with more ...
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Intuition - The Shortest Curve Between Two Points is a Line

The references below aver that the following is not crudely trivial: The shortest curve between two points is a (straight) line. An elementary school teacher construed it as follows ...
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Geometrical interpretation of a group action of $SU_2$ on $\mathbb S^3$

Background There're some nomenclatures from Michael Artin's Algebra to explain. 3-Sphere, or $\mathbb S^3$, is the locus of $x_0^2+x_1^2+x_2^2+x_3^2=1$, where $(x_0,x_1,x_2,x_3)\in\mathbb R^4$. ...
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Why is better to work with the spectrum of prime ideals than with the maximal one, for example in the definition of affine scheme.

When we have an algebraic variety we can identifie the points of the variety with maximal ideals of the coordinate ring. I would like to know why is more natural to define the main structure of the ...
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Intuitive test of convergence

Are there any intuitive tests that might help one decide whether a sequence of functions converges / converges uniformly? For example, an intuitive test I have recently realized for uniform continuity ...
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Visualize normal subgroup, normalizer, cosets.

A few important aspects of the relationship $H \lhd N_G(H) \le G$ are highlighted in Figure 7.31. First, the size of $N_G(H)$ is some multiple of |H|, and the size of G is some multiple of $N_G(H)$, ...
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Counterexamples to Nonidentities - Power of Cosets and Right Coset - Fraleigh p. 103 10.30, 33

Let $H \le$ group G and $a, b \in G.$ Prove or give a counterexample. If $aH= bH,$ (30.) then $Ha= Hb.$ (33.) then $a^2 H = b^2 H.$ I understand p. 3: Let $G = S_3$ and $H = \{(1), (1,3)\}$. ...
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Intuition - Zero Vector, Its Existence in Any Set, and Linear Dependence [GStrang, P169]

$I.$ The zero vector is linearly dependent. $II.$ Any set containing the zero vector must be linearly dependent. I only apprehend the truths of I and II above from the definition of linear ...
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What's the idea behind the covariant derivative?

I'm learning differential geometry from what I find on the Internet (to eventually find a grasp on General Relativity too). Right now I playing with a sphere. I have 3 functions ($x$, $y$, $z$) that ...
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Intuition behind the definition of a measurable set

This week I saw the definition of a measurable set for an outer measure. Let $\mu^*$ be an outer measure on a set $X$. We call $A \subseteq X$ measurable if $$\mu^*(E) = \mu^*(A\cap E) + ...
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Visualization of immersed submanifold

I am trying to visualize the difference between immersed submanifold and embedded submanifold. At first, I thought that, for example, if I can embed manifold $M$ in $\mathbb{R}^4$ and if my friend can ...
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Orthogonal Coordinate Systems Intuition

I'd really love it if you could give some intuition on how to derive the $x$, $y$ & $z$ coordinates from all/any of the orthogonal coordinate systems in this list, how you think about, say, ...
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What is the intuition of conjugacy classes?

How can I fully understand what are conjugacy classes are in groups? I know the definition, that $a$ and $b$ are conjugate if $gag^{-1}=b$ for some $g\in G$. But what is the intuition? Using a ...
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Intuition behind “Non-Archimedean” — two senses of “non-archimedean”.

There appear to be two senses of the qualifier "Archimedean" for fields. One is for ordered fields, and one is for "valued fields" (fields with an absolute value function defined). In the first case, ...
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Geometric intuition for Jordan normal forms (invariant subspaces, shearing, scaling, etc.)

I'm trying to visualize what a linear operator does to a vector space if that operator can be put into Jordan normal form. For concrete motivation, let's take $V = \mathbb{R}^3$, with some linear ...
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Is there any equivalence between the category of schemes over $\mathbb R$ and the category real manifolds

The equivalence of the category of smooth projective curves over $\mathbb C$ and the category of compact Riemann surfaces is, I believe, well documented. For example, it is mentioned on the wiki page: ...
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Quotient-lifting properties

I borrowed this terminology from K. Conrad's article on series of subgroups, in which he discusses solvability of groups. This property of certain groups satisfies Let $N\triangleleft G$. Then ...
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Ways to think about one-relator groups

What are some intuitive ways to think about one-relator groups? I am aware of the Freiheitsatz, and Bass-Serre theory. What I'm interested in are ways people who work extensively with one-relator ...
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Complex graphs in 3D

Does anyone have red-green 3D software for plotting 4D graphs in 3D with 3D glasses? I've seen a 4D hypercube done this way and it's very revealing...
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Does this integral variable change makes sense to you?

I was Reading a book about calculus when I've found this part about variable substitution in integrals: Consider $f$ defined in na interval $I$. Suppose that $x =\phi(u)$ is inversible, and its ...
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Center/Commutator Subgroup of Direct Product = Direct Product of these Subgroups - - Fraleigh p. 64 Theorem 6.14

(1.) What's the intuition? Full proof for Center Subgroups (2.) What's the proof blueprint? I know proof's using $A = B \iff A \subseteq B \wedge B \subseteq A$. But where did $(ga,hb)$ in ...
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Intuition behind (statistical) completeness

I was wondering if any of the members of the MSE community would like to share his/her intuition about completeness in statistics. For the sake of "completeness", here's the definition, taken from ...
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Intution, Figure. Negation of Continuity and Uniform Continuity (S.A. pp 117 T4.4.6)

Every time I need negation, I have to write out all the logical symbols to negate manually. I know how to determine these negations myself. But I want to compehend intuition or figure like ...
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Intuition on Axiom of Completeness

♪ (J. Stewart. Calculus 6th ed. pp 682) Axiom of Completeness = AoC = A nonempty set of real numbers that has an upper bound has a least upper bound. AoC is an expression of the fact that there ...
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Visualize cosets of kernel of homomorphism, normal subgroup

Question 1. 'Since we know that the codomain is a group, this cannot happen.' I don't understand. Can someone elaborate? I know all homomorphisms are functions but not vice versa. Functions are ...
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Visualize every quotient map follows a pattern, subgroup and its left cosets

page 167. Because of the Fundamental Homomorphism Theorem, Nathan Carter calls non-embedding homomorphisms quotient maps. This is one of the key facts about homomorphisms: they come in ...
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Proofs involving Disjunctions [Velleman, Chapter 3.5]

$\Large{{1.}}$ Are proofs using strategies $P136, P143$ always easier than those using $P140$? In the former two, only one statement (either $P$ or $Q$) must be proven. In the latter, both $P$ and ...
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Henri Poincaré writings

I have heard that Poincaré writings were very intuitive in its approach and not very formal in the arguments. I'm searching for something like this to complement my study of dynamical systems. I ...
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A question on mathematical writing.

One of the problems I am grading this week is as follows: Given a simply connected bounded domain $\Omega$ on $\mathbb{R}^{2}$, prove that there exist a line that separates it into two parts of equal ...
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Visualizing Frobenius Theorem

Given a smooth vector field $v$ on a (finite dimensional) manifold $M$, one can find the associated integral curves i.e. integral submanifolds of M such that the tangent space at any point $p\in M$ is ...
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Taking a Fourier transform of Taylor series

My (naive) question is whether it is possible to take the Fourier transform of a Taylor series? Could one use multiplication with $\delta$ to get the function sampled at the point of expansion and ...
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A few questions about nonabelian cohomology of finite groups.

I apologize in advance if these questions are broad or basic. I tried to read about them at the Wikipedia, but everything is written in the language of category theory, in which I have had no formal ...
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Do the $p$-norms in $\mathbb R^2$ have a nice geometric intuition behind them?

For $p\geq 1,$ the $p$-norm of a vector $(x,y)\in\Bbb R^2$ is the number $\|(x,y)\|_p=(|x|^p+|y|^p)^{1/p}.$ I learned this definition some time ago, but I never really understood it. Is there a ...
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General formula for dependent probability distributions

Recently I encountered the following problem: What is the mean distance between two random points on a unit square? I understand pen and paper methods for solving this exist however I'm ...
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Function on $\mathbb{R}$ differentiable at a single point (S.A. pp 136 question 5.2.3)

By imitating the Dirichlet constructions in Section 4.1, construct a function on R that is differentiable at a single point. Tried and assayed. 1. How can you calculate this construction? Where ...
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Why always $\delta = 1/n$? Negation of Continuity and Uniform Continuity? (S.A. pp 117 T4.4.6)

These proofs about negation of continuity and uniform continuity proofs always invoke $d = 1/n$. Where did this emanate from? I know $\lim _{n\rightarrow \infty }\frac {1} {n}=0$. Why not something ...
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Intuition and Proof - $H$ is a maximal normal subgroup of $G \iff$ $G/H$ is simple. - Fraleigh p. 150 Theorem 15.18

I don't understand some steps in the proof by B.S.. Start with some definitions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximal_subgroup#Maximal_normal_subgroup: $H \unlhd G$ is a maximal normal subgroup ...
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Intuition of Picture - Collapse, Factor Group, Homomorphism, Normal Subgroup - Fraleigh p. 144 Figure 15.1

Let $N \unlhd G$. In the factor group $G/N$, the subgroup $N$ acts as identity element. Regard N as being collapsed to a single element, to the identity element. This collapsing of N together ...
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Intuition behind a proof showing a square is homeomorphic to a quotient of an interval

There's a rather simple proof for the following theorem: There exists an equivalence relation $\sim$ on the unit interval $I=[0,1]$ such that the quotient $I/{\sim}$ is homeomorphic to the unit ...
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Relationships between Reduced Row Echelon Form and the Fundamental Four Subspaces [inspired by Strang P143 3.2.34]

I'm trying to apprehend all the links between two matrices' RREFs and their $4$ fundamental subspaces. Does $RREF(A) = RREF(B) $ $1.1.$ $\implies null(A) = null(B)$? True because $null(A) = ...
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How to Intuit/See Matrix Factorisation [GStrang P250 Ex 5.1A]

I beg leave for your forgiveness over the colours. Please enlighten me if there's a more efficient way. How is the determinant of the checkerboard sign pattern matrix, $ \begin{bmatrix} a(1, ...
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Intuition behind continuity in topological spaces

I was approaching the following problem: "Let $f \colon X \to Y$ be continuous. Is it true that if $x$ is a limit point of $A \subset X$ then $f(x)$ is a limit point of $f(A)$?" The answer is that ...
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What is a Line Integral?

My question is very simple yet crucial to the understanding of many fields of mathematics. What is a line integral? If I choose some arbitrary line segment $\mathbb{A}$ to integrate a function ...
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What are some ways of showing that a structure is not minimal?

The question is really in the title. My background in model theory is very limited. Basically nothing past the definition of minimal structures and minimal subsets. I am interested in some ...
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Wilson's theorem intuition

Wilson's Theorem: $p$ is prime $\iff$ $(p-1)!\equiv -1\mod p$ I can use Wilson's theorem in questions, and I can follow the proof whereby factors of $(p-1)!$ are paired up with their (mod $p$) ...