Questions tagged [mathematicians]

Questions about mathematicians and their lives. Consider whether the History of Science and Mathematics StackExchange at http://hsm.stackexchange.com/ would be a more appropriate place to ask your question.

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Who is this mathematician on the Fields medal?

On the Fields Medal, there is a picture of a human portrait. Picture is given below: Who is this mathematician on the Fields Medal? I think this portrait may be an ancient Greek mathematician.
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3 answers
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Do (some) mathematicians think that beauty is evidence of truth in mathematics? [closed]

Some physicists have argued that (other things being equal) a beautiful theory is more likely to be true than an ugly one. Dirac famously took this view: "A theory with mathematical beauty is ...
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Freeman Dyson classified mathematicians as Birds and Frogs. Can you give some concrete examples how these types differ?

Freemans article can be found here : Freeman's article on Birds and Frogs What is the difference between how a bird and a frog approach mathematics? Are there any textbooks or books in which the ...
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John Conway and 15·92

The Economist featured an obituary of John Conway (https://www.economist.com/obituary/2020/04/23/john-conway-died-on-april-11th, may be paywalled) which includes a photograph of him in what I guess is ...
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What is Landau Ramanujan constant?

What is Landau Ramanujan constant? I searched on Wikipedia but explanation was not clear enough please explain it along with example thank you
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2 votes
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Unconscious prejudices of "pure" versus "applied" mathematicians [closed]

Once upon a time (true story) a highly respected “pure” mathematician saw the following expression: $$ M = A(A^\top A)^{-1} A^\top $$ and instantly said it's the identity matrix. But if $A$ has many ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Which is the mark that the competent mathematician must have more than any other? [closed]

I'm reading the excellent autobiography of Norbert Wiener on its couple of books (Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth and I am a mathematician). Certainly there is much material to discuss, but there ...
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4 votes
4 answers
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Are there any notebooks of famous mathematicians, through which we can understand their thinking and learning process?

Please name some published/preserved notebooks of famous (or not so famous) mathematicians, which you think reflect their learning or thinking process. Notebooks which contain mistakes are highly ...
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27 votes
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Strange acknowledgment in Serge Lang's Linear Algebra

Recently I open this book to look up a certain theorem and saw something peculiar about the acknowledgments I've never notice before: Acknowledgments I thank Ron Infante and Peter Pappas for ...
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22 votes
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The significance and acceptance of Helfgott’s proof of the weak Goldbach Conjecture

Recently I was browsing math Wikipedia, and found that Harald Helfgott announced the complete proof of the weak Goldbach Conjecture in 2013, a proof which has been accepted widely by the math ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Can a mathematical proof always be objectively determined as correct or incorrect?

Fields medalist Michael Atiyah claimed a simple proof of the Riemann hypothesis, but many mathematicians rejected his proof. Am I right in saying that Atiyah's proof is either objectively correct (...
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Who said (a variation of) this? "Mathematics didn't teach me how to reason correctly, but [...] how easy it is to make an error when reasoning."

I remember I once read a quote of a mathematician at the beginning of a book, or article, which said a (possibly) small variation of: Mathematics didn't teach me how to reason correctly, but at ...
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Rose Katherine Morton

I stumbled upon something called The Morton Number, I wonder if anyone knows about it? I found out that it is related to Rose Katherine Morton, I know she was an american mathematician, but very ...
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1 answer
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The history of trigonometry in two old stories

There is a story, apparently from Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch (and repeated here, and here, and here, and, well, here) that Thales was able to calculate the height of an Egyptian pyramid by the ...
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Are great mathematicians actually "bad" in some fields of mathematics? [closed]

When a mathematician like Terence Tao says "I'm not good in Algebra" what does he actually mean? Does that imply he's actually good at undergraduate level Algebra and perhaps even at masters level, ...
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How do mathematicians know when writing papers if their results have already been proven or are special cases?

How does a mathematician know if what they are trying to show or what they are working on has already been shown by someone else, or has already been extensively studied etc.? What if instead someone ...
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Entscheidungsproblem

I'm trying to understand the problem proposed by David Hilbert in 1928. So, oversimplifying a bit, he was asking for an algorithm that, given a set of axioms, returns true/false if a statement input ...
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1 vote
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Any mathematician known to be good at pure mathematics but bad at an applied mathematics?

There are mathematicians who are not good at taking math exam, say Hermit. Is there any mathematician known to be good at only pure mathematics, whose ability may not be that well at applied ...
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3 votes
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Did Hilbert present all of his problems to the ICM in 1900?

In texts of Hilbert's speech to the ICM in Paris in 1900, all 23 problems are listed. However, Wikipedia claims that he only presented 10 in his speech, and the others were published later. I know in ...
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1 answer
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Name of mathematician who made an error, which made his later work useless?

In school, many years ago, my teacher taught me about a mathematician who was working on developing tables (or something similar to that). He apparently worked for years and then made a single ...
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24 votes
1 answer
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Please help me identify these mathematicians

In the English translation of Sharygin's Problems in Geometry by Mir Publishers, there are a number of instances in which the names of mathematicians are clear misspellings. For example, "Lemuan" for ...
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Curiosity of roulette system

What is the probability of me losing a 3/1 bet 10 times in a row I've tried working out myself but the equations needed go straight over my head
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L'Hôpital's full name

I think we've all heard of L'Hôpital's rule when solving limits of the form $\frac{0}{0}$ or $\frac{\infty}{\infty}$ (for those doing calculus or real analysis at a higher level) but the other day my ...
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Otton Marcin Nikodym/Nikodým?

My question is simple: which of the two spellings of this famous Polish mathematician’s surname is correct? His most influential result is proving that a $\sigma$-finite measure that is absolutely ...
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51 votes
3 answers
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Did Pólya say, "can" or "cannot"?

Most mathematicians are familiar with the mathematical problem-solving book How to Solve it, by George Pólya. And for those who are not, especially young mathematicians, I would recommend dropping ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What type of mathematics is posed in the movie "A Beautiful Mind"?

There is a scene in the movie "A Beautiful Mind" in which John Nash is talking to his friend Charles in Princeton Library. Nash shows Charles three pieces of mathematics - drawn on the windows - that ...
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2 votes
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Mathematician whose teacher recommended he stay back a year.

Was it true that Fejer's childhood teacher recommended he be held back? I recall such a legend but cannot find any reference to it. I am guessing it is apocryphal.
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Galois Biography References

I'm currently starting work on a project about Evariste Galois, and while I'm familiar with the basic details of his life (French, revolutionary, genius, headstrong, dead), and those details paint an ...
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41 votes
8 answers
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Is any mathematican more famous for their conjecture(s) than their theorem(s)?

I'm wondering if some mathematicians gained more fame from their (perhaps visionary) conjectures, than from the positive results they proved? I would say this is not true of Fermat, despite his ...
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44 votes
4 answers
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Did Joseph Fourier ever make a pure mathematical mistake?

Cited by "Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason" John David Kadvany, 2001: It is remarkable that the nineteenth century was a time of error for mathematics: not trivial oversights or amateur ...
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2 answers
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Who is M. Montel?

From V.I. Arnold's Experimental Mathematics: Not having achieved what they desired, they pretended to desire what they had achieved. –M. Montel Who is M. Montel? Is he related to the French ...
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1 answer
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What was the "real" first equation? [closed]

The first equation ever written, using a modern equals sign, has TWO versions: Version 1: Wiki link and Another link gives $$ 14x+15=71 $$ But from a UK maths textbook, it gives $$ 14\sqrt{x}+15=...
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1 vote
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Theory of reality by Ramanujan

I am reading the Book "The man who knew Infinity" by Robert Kanigel.In it, in the second chapter "Ranging with delight", page: 66, he says: Later in England, Ramanujan would build Theory of ...
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1 answer
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First scientific work. [closed]

One year ago I decided to myself to write my own scientific work in number theory, graph theory or combinatorics. I tried to find the teacher and theme during this year, but unfortunately I didn't ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Any surviving contemporary manuscripts by ancient mathematicians?

As I understand it, most of what we know about ancient mathematics comes from copies, quotations, and summaries by later scribes and scholars. Medieval Arab mathematicians in particular are given ...
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7 votes
0 answers
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Who is "R. Drabek"?

The book "Algebra für Einsteiger" bei Bewersdorff (I think the English edition is called "Galois Theory for Beginners") starts with a nice quotation: Math is like love; a simple idea, but it can ...
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Independent Study

Aiming for a Pure Mathematics Degree. So I have currently completed 1.5 years at a junior college and have completed all of my lower division mathematics courses (i.e Single Variable Calculus, Multi-...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Sources of "morality of results" in mathematics

Long ago, I have heard Itai Shafrir, one of my differential equations mathematics teachers, claim several times that a result or a conjecture should hold "moralement" in French ("morally" in English)....
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34 votes
13 answers
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Why is Lebesgue so often spelled "Lebesque"?

Henri Lebesgue (1875-1941) was a French mathematician, best known for inventing the theory of measure and integration that bears his name. As far as I know, "Lebesgue" is the correct spelling of his ...
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2 answers
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Question on Groups [duplicate]

Give an example of an infinite group in which every element has a finite order
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Question on matrices

Let A be a symmetric matrix of form 2.2 then what should be the elements in matrix B of2.2 such that AB not equals to BA
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What did John Nash publish post-illness?

I've searched for this from time to time and never been able to find a single research paper he published since 1960. Every account of his later work seems to finesse this. The Abel prize page for ...
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2 votes
1 answer
238 views

Famous Problems the Experts Could not Solve [closed]

After Yitang Zhang stunned the mathematics world by establishing the first finite bound on gaps between prime numbers, it got me thinking about the following question: $\underline{\text{Question}}:$ ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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How much math was "Broken" by Russell's Paradox?

As you know, the phrase "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves" caused a paradox that "broke" (made trivial) Naive set theory. How much mathematics had to be redone because of this? Most ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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A joke proof of a famous mathematician showing that a certain two-digit number is prime

There was a joke (highly sophisticated, non-elementary) proof of a famous mathematician showing that a certain two-digit number (like 43 or 83 but I forgot what) is prime. Could you remind me of a ...
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0 votes
3 answers
599 views

How to pronounce "Sturm"? [closed]

The celebrated phrase "Sturm und Drang" is German. I know the pronunciation of the German noun "Sturm". But, I would like to pronounce the French name "Sturm" of "Jacques Charles François Sturm".
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3 votes
0 answers
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Who First Considered This Generalization of the Fibonacci Numbers?

I am looking for the author who originally researched a generalization of the Fibonacci numbers, which Koshy, in Chapter 7 his book Fibonacci and Lucas Numbers with Application refers to as the ...
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33 votes
8 answers
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Genius mathematicians who never published anything

Amongst philosophers, Socrates is an example of a genius with a great influence on human history who never wrote anything. Almost all facts which are known about his revolutionary ideas are written by ...
10 votes
3 answers
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Is there any mathematician who felt guilty for one of his math discoveries ever?

Quoted from Wikipedia: In 1888 Alfred Nobel's brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred's obituary. It condemned him for his invention of ...
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34 votes
11 answers
7k views

Great contributions to mathematics by older mathematicians [closed]

It is often said that mathematicians hit their prime in their twenties, and some even say that no great mathematics is created after that age, or that older mathematicians have their best days behind ...