For questions about the motivation behind mathematical concepts and results. These are often "why" questions.

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Set theory, motivating factors [duplicate]

Set theory seems to pop up in many different fields of mathematics. As someone with a CS degree, I've only encountered very basic set theory; dealing with non-specific sets, and their intersections, ...
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2answers
87 views

Why are functional analysts interested in not only the point spectrum of $f$, but also, its spectrum?

Suppose $\mathbb{K}\in \{\mathbb{R},\mathbb{C}\},$ that $X$ is a Banach space over $\mathbb{K}$, and that $f : X \leftarrow X$ is a bounded linear transform. Then the spectrum of $f$ is defined as the ...
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1answer
60 views

Why do we consider only real or complex Banach spaces?

In wikipedia, normed vector space is defined as a vector space over a subfield of $\mathbb{C}$ equipped with a norm. However, Banach space is defined as a complete normed space over $\mathbb{R}$ or ...
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6answers
468 views

What problems, ideas or questions first got you interested in algebraic geometry?

Obviously, a lot of people are very interested in algebraic geometry. I suppose this means it is a fascinating area. However the few times I have tried to read introductory books and/or articles in ...
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1answer
132 views

What is the motivation/applications for the definition of Lebesgue measure on $\mathbb R^n$?

The definition of the Lebesgue measure on $\mathbb R^n$ is fundamentally tied up with the following assumption: The measure of the cartesian product of $n$ intervals should be the product of the ...
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1answer
41 views

Growth conditions for partial differential equations

Hi I am interested in what the exact purpose is of growth conditions associated with solving partial differential equations. For example the following pde: $$\text{div}(a(x,u,\nabla u)) + c(c,u,\nabla ...
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1answer
122 views

Linear systems of differential equations

I would like to see an example of a real physical situation where one can find a set of variables evolving according to a system of linear differential equations. I wasn't able to find any such ...
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12answers
1k views

Nonobvious examples of metric spaces that do not work like $\mathbb{R}^n$

This week, I come to the end of the first year analysis, and suffer from a "crisis of motivation." With this question, I want to chase away my thought, "Why is it important to study the general ...
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2answers
176 views

Why are special numbers important? (Such as fermat prime, mersenne prime)

Whenever I studied topics in mathematics, I found those topics are important in purely mathematical sense and I could see some motivations. However, I cannot see neither motivation nor importance of ...
3
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1answer
210 views

Motivation and examples for ramification

I started learning algebraic number theory, but it seems like all the sources I had are too abstract, giving me difficulty understanding the concept and tripping me up frequently. For today it is ...
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1answer
83 views

Motivation for and differences between properties of measure, outer measure

This is related to my measure theory class, but it's not homework. The motivation behind this post is to understand the big picture relationship between properties of measure and outer measure. I ...
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2answers
89 views

Do coalgebras arise outside the study of bi/Hopf-algebras?

Hopefully the title is fairly self explanatory. I'm curious as to whether the coalgebra structure (that is, a vector space with a comultiplication and counit) comes up an any area of mathematics not ...
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3answers
455 views

What's a good motivating example for the concept of a slice category?

What nice example can one give a beginner to really motivate the idea of a slice category, before they've met the more general notion of a comma category? There's the toy example of a poset category ...
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0answers
74 views

Why do we care about non-$T_0$ spaces?

(Reminder: A $T_0$ topological space, also known as a Kolmogorov space, is a space where the topological structure "recognizes" that different points are different: No two points have exactly the same ...
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1answer
52 views

Uses of Mersenne primes in math

There is an international search for Mersenne primes. The project is huge. But what are the uses of Mersenne Primes in math? Do they have any other properties other than being of the form $2^n-1$?
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0answers
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Hopfian and Co-Hopfian Modules.

Let $M$ be a $R-$module. We say that: $M$ is a Hopfian module, if every epimorphism of $M$ is a monomorphism. $M$ is a Co-Hopfian module, if every monomorphism of $M$ is an epimorphism. Why do we ...
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2answers
88 views

Where do I start learning and how do I stay motivated?

I just finished intermediate algebra in college. I liked it and breezed through it. I feel like at this level of math I can only expect dull and unenthusiastic teachers (which has been the case ...
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3answers
489 views

The “Empty Tuple” or “0-Tuple”: Its Definition and Properties

(I would like to link to a previous discussion on the subject: What is A Set Raised to the 0 Power? (In Relation to the Definition of a Nullary Operation)) In axiomatic (ZFC) set theory, we define ...
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0answers
98 views

Application of integrating $\cos^4 x$?

A student asked a colleague the other day for a practical application that involved needing to integrate the fourth power of cosine, but no one here could think of one off-hand other than some volume ...
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1answer
89 views

Motivation behind parameters

This article shows a technique of evaluating a definite integral by introducing a suitable parameter. This however doesn't throw light on motivation for introducing that particular parameter. For ...
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0answers
134 views

What is the motivation behind the study of pattern-avoiding permutations?

There is a ton of research on pattern-avoiding permutations (permutations that do not contain some designated permutation pattern). We're figuring out how to enumerate them, what random ones are ...
3
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2answers
370 views

Relation between long exact sequences and Derived functors

I know that if i have a short exact sequence of chain complexes $$0\rightarrow A\rightarrow B\rightarrow C\rightarrow 0$$ then i can extend it to long exact sequence of homology groups as ...
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5answers
274 views

What is the reason to introduce and study logarithmic functions?

I don't understand why logarithms exist when we have exponential functions. Exponential functions seem to be an easier and less convoluted way to write something. Why invent logarithms to do something ...
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1answer
92 views

Fibonacci Numbers in Nature

Supposedly the Fibonacci sequence appears naturally in nature, and my question is how, where and I guess why? I read that one way this is so is that it models the population of honey bees under ideal ...
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3answers
331 views

Finitely generated ideal in Boolean ring; how do we motivate the generator?

This problem is Exercise 11.3 in Atiyah/Macdonald Commutative Algebra. They ask to prove every finitely generated ideal in a Boolean ring is in fact a principal ideal. The question has been answered ...
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2answers
82 views

Motivational example for complex numbers

Years ago I was introduced to complex numbers. In class we had been talking about the cubic polynomial and its solutions. At one point we saw an example where, when using the formula, one had to stop ...
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5answers
475 views

About Trigonometry

Is there anything cool about trigonometry? I was just curious. I'm learning trig right now and I often find myself asking myself, "What's the point?" I feel if I knew what I was working on and why, ...
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3answers
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Book series like AMS' Student Mathematical Library?

I had the joy of discovering AMS' Student Mathematical Library book series today, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how enticing some of the titles seem: exciting and expositionary, a perfect ...
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4answers
1k views

Book ref. request: “…starting from a mathematically amorphous problem and combining ideas from sources to produce new mathematics…”

I couldn't find Charles Radin's Miles of Tiles at the local university library or the public library, and cannot afford its Amazon price right now. Thus, while sorely disappointed for the moment, I ...
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4answers
4k views

An equation that generates a beautiful or unique shape for motivating students in mathematics

Could anyone here provide us an equation that generates a beautiful or unique shape when we plot? For example, this is old but gold, I found this equation on internet: $$ \large\color{blue}{ ...
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1answer
168 views

Why should we accept the existence of subsets $A$ such that neither $A$ nor $A^c$ are recursively ennumerable? And how can we persuade others?

Encode every pair $(t,x)$ (where $t$ is a Turing machine and $x$ is an input string) as a distinct natural number. Then the halting subset $H$ fails to be recursive. $$H := \{(t,x) \in \mathbb{N} ...
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5answers
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Why study cardinals, ordinals and the like?

Why is the study of infinite cardinals, ordinals and the like so prevalent in set theory and logic? What's so interesting about infinite cardinals beyond $\aleph _0 $ and $\mathfrak{c} $? It seems ...
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2answers
187 views

Motivation of vector bundle of a manifold

I am studying about vector bundle from M.Lee but not getting the feel of it. Can someone explain me about the importance of vector bundle? Why do we need to study about it? Thanks! Also, i have to ...
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1answer
49 views

Why do we require $X$ to be Hausdorff when defining $C(X)$?

In Efton Park's "Complex Topological K-theory", he begins a section by defining the Banach algebra $C(X)$ (continuous functions $f: X \rightarrow \Bbb C$), presupposing that $X$ is Hausdorff and ...
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2answers
253 views

Why study integrality?

Here are a few of the basic definitions related to integrality. (1) A polynomial in $R[x]$ is monic if its leading coefficient is $1$. (2) An element is integral over a ring $R$ if it ...
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9answers
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Why do mathematicians sometimes assume famous conjectures in their research?

I will use a specific example, but I mean in general. I went to a number theory conference and I saw one thing that surprised me: Nearly half the talks began with "Assuming the generalized Riemann ...
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4answers
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Topological groups, why need them?

I'm reading through Munkres and Armstrong's books on topology. However, I find topological groups to be really complicated objects! I feel they are twice as hard to deal with then just groups and ...
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2answers
127 views

Motivation for construction of cross-product (Quaternions?)

I just found a very interesting article here: http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2012/02/15/dot-cross-and-quaternion-products/ The author observes that by defining i,j,k s.t. $i^2=j^2=k^2=ijk=-1$, ...
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1answer
99 views

Why were limits introduced in calculus? [closed]

I have got the intuitive of the limits but why were they introduced in calculus, are they really helpful to us?
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2answers
73 views

Practical motivation for analysis at school

I want to show pupils at an age of 14 to 17 and who do not like math what they can use analysis/analytic geometry in a job. I could not remember an impressive example for most topics. Let's assume ...
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2answers
96 views

What does this theorem mean?

Let $(V,\|\cdot\|)$ be a finite-dimensional normed space. Define $\|T\|_\mathrm{op}=\sup\{\|T(x)\|:\|x\|≦1\}$, for all linear operators on $V$ Define $\Omega$ to be the set of all invertible linear ...
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4answers
1k views

Fractional Calculus: Motivation and Foundations.

If this is too broad, I apologise; let's keep it focused on the basics if necessary. What's the motivation and the rigorous foundations behind fractional calculus? It seems very weird & ...
4
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2answers
866 views

What is the importance of the spectral theorem?

I know that the spectral theorem tells us that in the case of a real inner product space, an operator is self adjoint if and only if there is an orthonormal basis with only eigenvectors of that ...
2
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1answer
121 views

For what reason, the surface measure represents the surface area?

Let $||\cdot||$ be a norm on $\mathbb{R}^n$ (It's an arbitrary norm, not 2-norm) Define $S^{n-1}=\{x\in\mathbb{R}^n : ||x||=1\}$ Let $\mu$ be the n-dimensional Lebesgue measure. Define ...
7
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1answer
132 views

Reference request: Introduction to Finite Group Cohomology

I don't know anything about group cohomology and I'd like to. What is the best text to learn this subject? I'd prefer as soft an introduction as possible - that is, lots of motivation, lots of ...
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2answers
87 views

How to motivate vectors as derivations?

In a manifold it's easy to motivate the definition of vectors as equivalence classes of curves. On the other hand the definition as derivations is harder to motivate. I know how to show that the space ...
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1answer
182 views

What is a motivation for this theorem and what is an example this theorem is applied?

If one doesn't know a motivation, it's hard to memorize such a theorem. So do I. Rudin RCA p.30 Let $(X,\Sigma,\mu)$ be a measure space such that $\mu(X)<\infty$ and $f\in L^1(\mu)$. ...
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1answer
104 views

Why might one be inclined to think that polynomials of the form $\cos(n\arccos{x})$ would minimize error in Lagrange interpolation?

I was first introduced to Chebyshev polynomials (of the first kind) in the form $T_n(x)=\cos\left(n \operatorname{arccos}(x)\right)$. The usual recurrence relation was then derived from using trig ...
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1answer
173 views

Representation theory approach VS Module theory approach?

Given an associative algebra $A$, there is a correspondence between representations of $A$ and left $A-$ modules. Thus, one can study the representation theory of an associative algebra via its left ...
4
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5answers
483 views

Why - not how - do you solve Differential Equations? [closed]

I know HOW to mechanically solve basic diff. equations. To recap, you start out with the derivative $\frac{dy}{dx}=...$ and you aim to find out y=... To do this, you separate the variables, and ...