Found on MathOverflow

Sunday, February 07th, 2010 | Author:

MathOverflow is a relatively new place for mathematicians to ask and answer research questions or just watch other mathematicians' discussions to learn. Since it's growing like the arXiv, it's no longer possible for me to read everything interesting without investing "too much" time. Like for the arXiv, where we have the arXiv Blog that looks for some of the most interesting (physics) papers submitted, there ought to be an excerpt-of-MO, too. This way, you could subscribe to your special fields of interest in a feed reader and additionally read some not-that-specialised questions picked by someone else.

I'm not going to do this, but in this post I'll present some of my favourites from the last months at MathOverflow (omitting the more subject-specific ones):
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Some nice introductory/expository papers

Thursday, October 29th, 2009 | Author:

On Math Overflow, someone asked for "A single paper everyone should read?"
and some answers were particularly nice to read for me, so I repeat it for you, ordered by how much math is needed (from none up to little):

  • Paul Lockhart: "A Mathematician's Lament" shares my opinion about the math eduction disaster in schools. I think you should read this if you disliked your math classes in school or if you will ever have children (who will have to take a math class, then).
  • Terry Tao: "What is good mathematics?" which is a short (10 pages) paper about the benefit we have from mathematicians different tastes and approaches. I recommend to every scientist reading the first 3 pages (the other 7 pages are only understandable with some background in mathematics).
  • Freeman Dyson: "Birds and Frogs" which is a must-read for anyone interested in history and/or progress of mathematics.
  • Misha Gromov: "Spaces and Questions" which is readable with almost no background, although might be funnier if you know basic differential geometry. It tells a dense story of geometric ideas and their development in history. And it doesn't take much time to read/skim it.
  • Timothy Chow: A beginner's guide to forcing is a really gentle introduction to forcing.

Math Overflow is a new community website where mathematicians can discuss research problems. It is based on Stack Exchange, the software powering Stack Overflow, which does the same for computer science.

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