Questions tagged [mathematics]

For questions about the quantitative study of topics such as numbers, structure, space, and change, carried out by investigating patterns.

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How did people calculate the zeros of the Bessel functions before the electronic computer?

The Bessel function appears in many mathematics and physics problems. Their zeros are solutions of many problems. So how did people calculate them at 1900? Did they have some good series?
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Cryptography in Japan before Meiji

I have a question related to Japan History and cryptography record. As you may know, Meiji is the period in Japan between 1868 and 1912, in which occidental reforming was performed. After (and ...
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When was the British Flag Theorem discovered or proven?

The British Flag Theorem is a fancy name for a law relating distances from the corners of a rectangle to an arbitrary point. The wikipedia article is small and has no history section. Could not find ...
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Why Doesn't Einstein Get More Credit for Being the Father of Quantum Mechanics?

I'm not simply referring to the notion that Einstein treated the discrete emission and transference of energy (and matter) as "real" physical phenomena, but rather his major continuous role in the ...
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A Lecture by Polya on Symmetric Algebraic Equations with an Unexpected Conclusion

Sometime in 1980 George Polya gave a lecture at the University of Minnesota about solutions of algebraic equations that have symmetry in the appearance of the variables in the equation (any ...
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71 views

Where can I find the complete papers of abstracts published by P. G. Tait in Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh in 1880?

I am interested in looking up P. G. Tait's flawed proof of the four-colour theorem, published in 1880. The citation that I have seen is: P. G. Tait, On the colouring of maps, Proc. Roy. Soc. ...
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59 views

What is the source of Hopf's (boundary) lemma?

In an introductory course on PDE's I got as a project to prove and present a version of Hopf's (boundary) lemma. Namely: Let $\Omega \subset R^{d}$ be an non-empty open connected set with a twice ...
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133 views

How did Euler obtain this formula from a paper/work in 1748?

I am reading this book on trigonometric series, "Тригонометрические ряды от Эйлера до Лебега" (Trigonometric series from Euler to Lebesgue) , it is in Russian, and my Russian is abysmal. But ...
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65 views

Why is Hilbert's Seventeenth Problem important?

I'm self-learning about Model Theory and I just got to the proof of Hilbert's 17th Problem via Model Theory of Real Closed Fields. The 17th problem asks to show that a non-negative rational function ...
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126 views

The origins of $\det(I+AB)=\det(I+BA)$

I am looking for the earliest published source that gives and perhaps proves the identity $\det(I+AB)=\det(I+BA)$ where $A$ and $B$ are just rectangular matrices of finite dimensions (as opposed to ...
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Origin of notation “R with a stroke on the leg” for the square-root (℞)

The following text from Ars magna (1545) by Girolamo Cardano is known as the inception of complex numbers: "imaginaberis ℞ m 15" (You will imagine the square root of minus 15): The "R&...
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1answer
93 views

Did Fourier use heated metal rings as experimental evidence to justify his mathematical discoveries?

In his answer to a previous question Alexandre Eremenko pointed out that Joseph Fourier in his book Analytic Theory of Heat gave all kinds of arguments in favor of the following mathematical ...
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How did Ruffini manage to extend the methods of Lagrange in order to “prove” the insolvability of the general quintic equation?

Since Lagrange published his Reflections papers during the early 1770s — around 30 years before Ruffini took up and extended the subject — I was wondering if there were any results that were ...
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85 views

How did Kolmogorov came up with his formalization of intuitionistic logic?

According to this article Kolmogorov published a paper in 1925 in which he attempted to formalize Brouwer’s intuitionistic mathematics. In that paper there are the following logical formulas: \begin{...
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123 views

Lessons from apparent paradoxes in geometric limits

1) Zeno's oxymoronic fleet, stationary arrow: One of the earliest infinity paradoxes, of course, is the flying arrow of Zeno which can't possibly be moving since it takes a finite amount of time to ...
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Literature on Mayan mathematics

I asked this question on math.se and they sent me here. It is well known that Mayan people used vigesimal (base 20) numeral system, and had had an advanced calendar system. Except for these facts, I'...
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85 views

Origin of the term 'index of a subgroup'

The index of a subgroup $H$ in a group $G$ is the number of distinct cosets of $H$ in $G$. Why did someone decide to call this an 'index'?
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71 views

First uses of the Ping-Pong Lemma

I am interested in knowing the origins of this useful result, but I haven't been able to precisely pinpoint the context of its first use. Most texts seem to indicate the result originally comes from ...
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65 views

How much ground was prepared for Riemann so that he could conjecture Riemann hypothesis?

Although I do not doubt in Riemann˙s originality, I would like to know how much complex analysis was developed up to the day when Riemann conjectured what is today called Riemann hypothesis and how ...
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74 views

What did Dieudonne mean by “Theories in a state of dilution”?

In "A Panorama of Pure Mathematics" by Dieudonne, he said The history of mathematics shows that a theory almost always originates in efforts to solve a specific problem (for example, the ...
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137 views

Did Newton invent convex hulls?

The convex hull of a set of points appears recognizably in a 1676 letter from Newton to Henry Oldenburg describing Newton polygons. Is there an earlier precedent for convex hulls or is this their ...
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176 views

Writing functions on the right

In group theory, writing functions on the right is a common, though not universal practice. Thus, given mappings $f$, $g$ and group element $\alpha$, one might write $\alpha f$ and $\alpha (f \circ ...
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138 views

Before differential calculus was discovered, why were mathematicians interested in tangents?

I think it is often said that one great motivation for the invention of calculus was to have a tool allowing to calculate the slope of a tangent to a curve $C$ at a given point $P$, and even, to find ...
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144 views

Translations of “Sur le théorème de Zorn”?

Are there any translations of the following into English, German, or Russian? Nicolas Bourbaki, Sur le théorème de Zorn, Archiv der Mathematik, Volume 2, pages 434–437, November 1949. Any help is ...
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Who first proved Fubini's theorem $n$th order integrals?

Who first proved a generalized Fubini theorem for integrals of order $≥3$? An $n$th order integral is $$\underbrace{\underset{x_n}\int\underset{x_{n-1}}\int\ldots\underset{x_1}\int}_{n} f(x_1,x_2,\...
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How was this equation for pi derived by Ramanujan?

Have we figured out how this series was derived by Ramanjuan? $$\frac{1}{\pi}=\frac{\sqrt{8}}{9801}\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}\frac{(4n)!}{(n!)^4}\frac{26390n+1103}{396^{4n}}$$
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Who first “depressed” the cubic equation?

In his Ars Magna Cardano specifies procedures to "depress" a cubic - a means to convert an equation such as $x^3+6x^2=100$ to $y^3=84+12y$, eliminating the $x^2$ term. Was he the one who discovered ...
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Courant (1943) and History of Finite Element Method

I am interested in the history of Finite Element Methods and Methods of Weighted Residuals (MWR), especially reduced quadrature and collocation methods. I have a paper coming out called “Orthogonal ...
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253 views

Discovery of the Power Series Form of the Exponential Function

How was the power series form of the exponential function disovered? Was it just observed? By the exponential function, I mean the solution to the differential equation $\frac{df}{dx} = f$ with the ...
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Earliest drawings of the plots of trigonometric functions

[Even though this question may seem as a duplicate of this question about the History of sine function, I'd like to ask it again - with a more specific title and a more specific focus (on specific ...
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223 views

Priority on lemniscate of Gerono?

The Lemniscate of Gerono is a special case of the Lissajous curves. The dates for the two mathematicians are fairly close: Gerono (1799-1891) and Lissajous (1822-1880). Historically who has priority ...
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Alligation - when and why did it disappear?

I have a book from 1795 where the mixing of quantities is done by Alligation. Depending on the supplied data this can be Partial, Alternate, Medial or Total. When I asked several teachers 'how would ...
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164 views

What is the name given to the principle that guides mathematical conventions like the product of two negative numbers is positive

I recall that I read---in a book by Constance Reid---of a named principle that guided the arithmetic conventions that applied to operations on newly discovered mathematical objects. For example, when ...
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152 views

Why are rings called rings?

I copied the question from https://math.stackexchange.com/q/61497/378968 because I think it is more suitable for this site and I think an answer to this question here could do better than: Hilbert ...
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In the scholastic challenges of renaissance Italy, what restrictions were considered appropriate regarding the incumbent's choice of subject?

EDIT Following Mauro's comment, I have altered my question to ask only about any restrictions that may have been considered concerning the suitability of the incumbent's choice of questions for the ...
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289 views

Are there primitive Pythagoras triplets (in integers), being with all the terms as powerful numbers?

I'm searching a trusted historical sources about primitive Pythagoras triplets as being powerful integers (numerical examples), or a notable work of impossibility of such a triples, but couldn't find ...
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Analytic and holomorphic functions, definitions and foundations?

If you search for the definition of analytic and holomorphic functions in books and online, you get crosses between two definitions (one involving taylor series and one differential) I can find no ...
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Origin of alternate base annotation

In modern arithmetic textbooks, students are taught about alternate numeric bases. The notation for indicating the base of a number is to attach the base as a subscript. The subscript is itself a ...
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First to note the relation between Stasheff polytopes (associahedra) and compositional inversion?

In my answer to MO-Q: Enumerative geometry and nonlinear waves, I outline the relation between the refined face polynomials of the Stasheff polytopes (associahedra) and the partition polynomials for ...
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163 views

History of the Wreath product

Why is the wreath product so named? If possible, please provide a citation.
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331 views

How was the use of upper and lower indices in tensor notation developed?

It is just a notation, but it is so economical and so systematic. So who invented them? A handy notation should be helpful for the development of the whole field.
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435 views

How was the modular arithmetic law invented?

We know that $(A \times B) \mod C = (A \mod C \times B \mod C) \mod C$. I know its proof. But my question is: Who first noticed this modular property. Which problems led him to introduce the rule? ...
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Appearance of the Dirac delta operator in Laplace's work

I found a reference to the following article ; O B Sheynin, The appearance of Dirac's delta functions in the works of P S Laplace (Russian), Istor.-Mat. Issled. Vyp. 20 (1975), 303-308, 381. I don't ...
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why do we write `abelian` group instead of `Abelian` group?

Suppose an object (or a concept or ...) is named after the person X, in honor of Mr. or Mrs. X in mathematics: X-ian objects/ <...
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1answer
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Why did the existential and universal quantifiers in logic took so long to become formalized into symbols after the invention of boolean algebra?

Was there a specific reason that prevented researchers in boolean algebra to invent such quantifiers in the flexible format that are known today earlier? Since the compact symbols for multiplication ...
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What was Heawood's proof of maximal planar graph 3-colorable implies its dual is bipartite?

In graph theory, it is a well-known (I guess folklore) result that the following three conditions are equivalent for a maximal planar graph $G$ (definitions are given at the end). Every vertex in $G$ ...
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What was Newton's road to his discovery of “Puiseux series” and “Newton polygon”?

In my opinion, one of Isaac Newton's greatest achievements in the "purer" aspects of mathematics was his discovery of Puiseux series; power series with fractional exponents. According to p.6 ...
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112 views

Where is this statement of Bourbaki's Dieudonné from and what does it mean?

In a few places, such as this web page, I have read the following statement about Jean Dieudonné, who was a founding member of the French "secret society" of mathematicians, Nicolas Bourbaki:...
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112 views

Interpretation of a short note of Gauss on the resolution of a special system of inhomogeneous linear equations by roots of unity

My question refers to a 2-pages fragment of Gauss, entitled: "Note on the resolution of a special system of linear equations", which is found on pages 30-31 of volume 8 of his works. In this ...
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Handbook of proofs

Do you know any handbook where original proofs of mathematicians' of the past theorems and facts are in modern notation? For example, for the Archimedean spiral etc