For questions about visualizing mathematical concepts. This includes questions about visualization of mathematical theorems and proofs without words.

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92
votes
21answers
7k views

Proving the identity $\sum_{k=1}^n {k^3} = \big(\sum_{k=1}^n k\big)^2$ without induction

I recently proved that $$ \sum_{k=1}^n k^3 = \left(\sum_{k=1}^n k \right)^2 $$ Using mathematical induction. I'm interested if there's an intuitive explanation, or even a combinatorial ...
52
votes
4answers
2k views

Algebra: Best mental images

I'm curious how people think of Algebras (in the universal sense, i.e., monoids, groups, rings, etc.). Cayley diagrams of groups with few generators are useful for thinking about group actions on ...
94
votes
20answers
19k views

Visually deceptive “proofs” which are mathematically wrong [closed]

Related: Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain Beside the wonderful examples above, there should also be counterexamples, where visually intuitive demonstrations are actually ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

How to Visualize points on a high dimensional (>3) Manifold?

Are there any ways to visualize(plot/draw) points on a high dimensional (ex: dimension = 5) manifold?
3
votes
2answers
329 views

Easy visualizations of small countable ordinals

The ordinal number $\omega^2$ can be visualized as $\omega$-many copies of $\omega$. Likewise, the ordinal number $\omega^3$ can be visualized as $\omega^2$-many copies of $\omega$, arranged as ...
6
votes
4answers
431 views

Which Cross Product for the Desired Orientation of a Sphere ? [Stewart P1091 16.7.23]

P1086: For a closed surface, the positive orientation is the one for which the normal vectors point outward from the surface, and inward-pointing normals give the negative orientation. P1087: ...
8
votes
2answers
197 views

0 to the power of 0, what does the essential discontinuity actually look like?

So having watch this clip by Numberphile which explains why $0^0$ is undefined https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRRolKTlF6Q And also this http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.0.to.0.power.html And ...
49
votes
13answers
23k views

Interesting math-facts that are visually attractive

To give a talk to 17-18 years old (who have a knack for mathematics) about how interesting mathematics (and more specifically pure mathematics) can be, I wanted to use nice facts accompanied by nice ...
56
votes
2answers
1k views

Visual proof of $\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^4} = \frac{\pi^4}{90}$?

In his gorgeous paper "How to compute $\sum \frac{1}{n^2}$ by solving triangles", Mikael Passare offers this idea for proving $\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$: Proof of equality ...
24
votes
2answers
607 views

Are there any visual proofs for $\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$?

I was flipping through Proofs Without Words (PWW) and saw many visual proofs for sequences and series. However, I saw none for $$\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$$ Are there any ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What are all these “visualizations” of the 3-sphere?

a 2-sphere is a normal sphere. A 3-sphere is $$ x^2 + y^2 + z^2 + w^2 = 1 $$ My first question is, why isn't the w coordinate just time? I can plot a 4-d sphere in a symbolic math program and ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Visualizing quotient groups: $\mathbb{R/Q}$

I was wondering about this. I know it is possible to visualize the quotient group $\mathbb{R}/\mathbb{Z}$ as a circle, and if you consider these as "topological groups", then this group (not ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

visualizing functions invariant (or almost) under modular transformation

In the spirit of Möbius Transformations Revealed, I'd like to make a pair of movies depicting how Klein's absolute invariant $j(\tau)$ and the Dedekind eta function $\eta(\tau)$ transform when ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Cutting a Möbius strip down the middle

Why does the result of cutting a Möbius strip down the middle lengthwise have two full twists in it? I can account for one full twist--the identification of the top left corner with the bottom right ...
13
votes
6answers
500 views

$\pi$ from the unit circle, $\sqrt 2$ from the unit square but what about $e$? [duplicate]

If one wants to introduce $\pi$ to a not mathematically savvy person, the unit circle would be a good choice. The unit square would be the way to go for $\sqrt 2$. But what about $e$? I've reviewed ...
17
votes
1answer
197 views

Handbook of mathematical drawing?

My drawing skills are pretty awful, and although I haven't yet had to teach multivariable calculus, someday I will. (And next semester in calculus II we're already doing some volumes by integrating ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

What's the name of these two surfaces?

I've plot two implicit surfaces which are shown in the above, I only know their expression, but I don't know how to call them.
2
votes
2answers
252 views

Problem using Stokes's Theorem - Boundary Curve, Unit Normal Vector [Stewart P1097 16.8.5]

$\Large{1.}$ How does one determine the boundary curve, denoted as C, to be the plane $z = -1$? I’m flummoxed because $S$ here is given as bottomless. I'm not enquiring about formal or rigorous ...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

Visualizing a homotopy pull back

I am currently taking a course in algebraic topology, which also covers a lot of category theory. My question is pretty straightforward: How do you visualize the (homotopy) pull back of a diagram ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is it that I cannot imagine a tesseract?

I try hard to "visualise" (say "imagine") a tesseract but I can't. Why is it that I can't? This may be a question for a scholar of some other discipline and not for a mathematician, e.g. ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

If two sets have the same cardinality, then so do their power sets. Converse can't be answered?

The following is my rewrite of this proof for the following assertion : For infinite sets $A, B$, $|A| = |B| \Longrightarrow \require{cancel} \cancel{\Longleftarrow} |P(A)| = |P(B)|$. ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Fourier Series and epicycles - How to extract the radii and angular velocities from the Fourier Series expansion of a function.

NOTE: I am attaching Mathematica code for those who may want to check it out and understand what I'm asking for. The rest of the question is pretty mathematical in nature, I'll also try the ...
5
votes
1answer
454 views

Intuition about the size of $\aleph_k$ with $k>1$

Assuming CH for simplicity, I know of some more or less intuitive way to think about difference in sizes of $\aleph_0$ and $\aleph_1$. The most straightforward is the distinction of natural/rational ...
2
votes
2answers
133 views

Intuition - Fundamental Homomorphism Theorem - Fraleigh p. 139, 136

Let $\phi: G \to H$ be a group homomorphism with $K = \ker\phi$. Then $G/K \simeq \phi[G]. $ The hinge to the proof is to define $\Phi: G/K \to \phi[G]$ given by $\Phi(gK) = \phi(g)$. Then we must ...
1
vote
1answer
179 views

Intuition - Homomorphic Image of Group Element is Coset - Fraleigh p. 135 13.52, p.130 Theorem 13.15

Theorem 13.15: Let $\phi: G \rightarrow G'$ be a group homomorphism, $g \in G$. Then $g\ker\phi = (\ker\phi)g = \operatorname{Im}^{-1} \left[ \; \{ \; \phi(g) \; \} \; \right] = \phi^{-1}[ \; \{ ...
0
votes
2answers
208 views

Intuition or figure for Reverse Triangle Inequality $||\mathbf{a}| − |\mathbf{b}|| ≤ |\mathbf{a} − \mathbf{b}|$ (Abbott p 11 q1.2.5)

I acquiesce to Wikipedia's picture for Triangle Inequality. But without referring to Triangle Inequality at all, is there intuition or figure please for Reverse Triangle Inequality for all ...
0
votes
1answer
262 views

Cauchy's Generalized Mean Value Theorem. Required function. (S.A. pp 140 t5.3.5)

Cohen, Henle. Calculus pp 827, (http://www.vias.org/calculus/09_infinite_series_10_06.html) I revised the footnote in pp 14 http://math.uga.edu/~pete/2400calc2.pdf. This theorem can be illustrated ...
59
votes
1answer
736 views

Regular way to fill a $1\times1$ square with $\frac{1}{n}\times\frac{1}{n+1}$ rectangles?

The series $$\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n(n+1)}=1$$ suggests it might be possible to tile a $1\times1$ square with nonrepeated rectangles of the form $\frac{1}{n}\times\frac{1}{n+1}$. Is there a ...
25
votes
2answers
650 views

Can I represent groups geometrically?

I have just taken up abstract algebra for my college and my professor was giving me an introduction to groups, but since I like geometric definitions or ways of looking at stuff, I kept thinking, "How ...
16
votes
1answer
234 views

Is it a good approach to heavily depend on visualization to learn math?

I am a third year undergraduate and I am a beginner on these "real mathematics" (no pun intended). Before contacting the "real math", my math level should be considered to be "good", although I was ...
6
votes
3answers
398 views

Can one construct a “Cayley diagram” that lacks only an inverse?

My group theory text asks for an example of a Cayley-like diagram that exhibits all the properties of a group except (only) that at least some elements lack an inverse. Is it possible to construct ...
13
votes
3answers
366 views

What can be gleaned from looking at a domain-colored graph of a complex function?

Functions from $\mathbb{C} \rightarrow \mathbb{C}$ are hard to visualize because of their 4-dimensional nature. One nice way of looking at them is by what's called domain coloring. An example from the ...
7
votes
1answer
430 views

Visualization of Lens Spaces

I am trying to visualize lens spaces geometrically. While I am aware of the fact that most manifolds which cannot be embedded in $\mathbb{R}^3$ are hard to visualize because of the obvious ...
4
votes
2answers
222 views

Visualize Fundamental Homomorphism Theorem for $\phi: A_4 \rightarrow C_3$

Question 1. How do you see $\ker\phi = V_4 $ = Klein 4 group ? Book doesn't give formula for $\phi$? Question 2. What's $H$ in $i(aH) = \phi(a)$? I think $H = \ker\phi$ ? Question 3. Why is $i: ...
5
votes
3answers
310 views

Visual explanation of $\pi$ series definition

Can you visually explain why the following is true: $$ \frac{\pi}{4} = \sum\limits_{k=0}^\infty \frac{(-1)^k}{2k + 1} = \frac{1}{1}-\frac{1}{3}+\frac{1}{5}-\frac{1}{7}+\frac{1}{9}\ldots\approx 78.5\% ...
4
votes
8answers
4k views

Techniques for visualising $n$ dimension spaces

Can you guys point me to the types of things I should read about (I'm a maths lay person really) if I want to learn about the current thinking how $n$ dimensional spaces can be visualised and thus ...
1
vote
1answer
350 views

Visualization of 2-dimensional function spaces

As a follow-up question to what is the norm measuring in function spaces I just had an idea: How about visualizing function spaces as normal planes. What I have in mind is to have an orthogonal ...
4
votes
0answers
209 views

Visualizations of ordinal numbers

I find this picture of the ordinal numbers up to $\omega^\omega$ rather hard to grasp: I wonder if the following might be a more compelling way to visualize ordinal numbers up to $\omega^\omega$: ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Usefulness of alternative constructions of the complex numbers

Complex numbers $\mathbb{C}$ are usually constructed as $\mathbb{R}^2$ together with a suitable multiplication. But this is not the only possible way, one can get to the complex numbers. One ...
2
votes
2answers
713 views

Parametric equations and specifications of a triskelion (triple spiral)

I haven't been able to find the parametric equations and specifications to form a triskelion, a triple spiral (this is made of three interlocked couples of spirals). Using the parametric equation of ...
1
vote
1answer
782 views

Plotting the intersection of multiple surfaces with WolframAlpha

I want to plot the intersection of two surfaces like in this post. But if I enter the much simplified expression ContourPlot3D[{x^2 + y^2 + z^2 - 4=0, xy=1}, {x, -2, 2}, {y, -2, 2}, {z, -2, 2}] ...
8
votes
2answers
196 views

On visualizing the spaces $\Bbb{S}_{++}^n$ and $\Bbb{R}^n\times\Bbb{S}_{++}^n$ for $n=1,2,\ldots$

Let $\Bbb{S}_{++}^n$ denote the space of symmetric positive-definite $n\times n$ real matrices. I am looking for hints concerning the visualization of such spaces for $n=1,2,\ldots$. I know that ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

How to visualize the Gaussian curvature of a 3D surface using color?

I have a 3D surface. I want to visualize color-coded Gaussian curvature. Is there any software (e.g. MATLAB, Mathematica) which can be used for calculating and visualizing the curvature in color code ...
6
votes
2answers
814 views

continuum between linear and logarithmic

A friend and I are working on a heatmap representing some population numbers. Initially we used a linear color scale by default. Then, because the numbers covered a wide range, I tried using a log ...
6
votes
2answers
514 views

Computing the projection of an infinite 3D grid of points

Consider the subset $S$ of $\mathbb{R}^3$ consisting of points whose coordinates are integers (compare Gaussian integers, Euclid's orchard). The view of $S$ from a perspective camera within the space ...
5
votes
2answers
316 views

The complement of a torus is a torus.

Take $S^3$ to be the three-sphere, that is, $S^3=\lbrace (x_1,x_2,x_3,x_4):x_1^2+x_2^2+x_3^2+x_4^4=1\rbrace$. Using the stereographic projection, $S^3=\mathbb{R}^3\cup \lbrace \infty \rbrace.$ Can ...
5
votes
1answer
277 views

FLOSS tool to visualize 2- and 3-space matrix transformations

I'm looking for a FLOSS application (Windows or Ubuntu but preferably both) that can help me visualize matrix transformations in 2- and 3-space. So I'd like to be able to enter a vector or matrix, ...
4
votes
5answers
448 views

Geometric visualization of covector?

How could I geometrically visualize a linear functional?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Intuition for gradient descent with Nesterov momentum

A clear article on Nesterov’s Accelerated Gradient Descent (S. Bubeck, April 2013) says The intuition behind the algorithm is quite difficult to grasp, and unfortunately the analysis will not be ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

Is this a valid visualization of Euler's identity as a more generic pattern?

I was reading this nice question about a demonstration of Euler's identity, and tried to visualize how would look the left part of the identity in the complex plane by using the following function: ...