64
votes
31answers
7k views

What are some conceptualizations that work in mathematics but are not strictly true?

I am having an argument with someone who thinks that it's never justified to teach something that is not strictly correct. I disagree: often, the pedagogically most efficient way to make progress is ...
6
votes
2answers
142 views

Closed, orientable surface whose genus is very hard to find intuitively

I'm introducing the Classification Theorem on closed and orientable surfaces in a talk on (intuitive) topology, and to motivate it I'd like an example of an embedding of a surface in $\mathbb{R}^3$ ...
11
votes
3answers
218 views

Natural uses for the co-product of sets?

I had come across countless uses of the (Cartesian) product of sets long before I first ever met the concept of a "co-product"1 of sets. In fact, anyone who has learned basic analytic geometry in ...
4
votes
3answers
139 views

abstract algebra example book

It's very exciting when you can use the theory to solve "lower level" problems. For example, I'm looking forward to understanding why the quintic equation is not solvable. In the undergraduate ...
20
votes
16answers
2k views

An example for a calculation where imaginary numbers are used but don't occur in the question or the solution.

In a presentation I will have to give an account of Hilbert's concept of real and ideal mathematics. Hilbert wrote in his treatise "Über das Unendliche" (page 14, second paragraph. Here is an English ...
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 $\bullet+\cdots\cdots\cdots+\bullet$ ...