Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 174 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [mathematics]

On standards or conventions specific to mathematics as an academic discipline, and programs that lead to a degree in this field.

321
votes
12answers
28k views

How to ask dumb questions

I am having trouble asking questions in seminars, conferences, and public talks. As a graduate math student I often fail to keep up with speaker and more mature members of the audience at events like ...
172
votes
6answers
15k views

Is it possible to recover after a career setback such as this?

I'm sorry, I'm not a mathematician--I'm the wife of a very frustrated and depressed mathematician. My husband got a math PhD in 2009, and could not get a research post-doc in his chosen field. We ...
109
votes
9answers
25k views

“Dressing down” to impress in academic settings

I came across this highly-upvoted comment on reddit (15,300 karma) by /u/Semi-Hemi-Demigod The CEO of the company I work for said that it's not uncommon for programmers to be asked to dress down ...
101
votes
10answers
18k views

During peer-review, should I comment on the authors' messy code?

I'm reviewing a paper in pure mathematics. A lot of results in the paper depend heavily on computer computations, and the authors have provided in the article a link to the Magma code they used for ...
97
votes
3answers
5k views

Submitting paper proving “X” soon after paper proving “X-epsilon”

I am a math postdoc, currently working on some conjecture. To avoid going into details, let's formulate it as follows: "every runcible doohickey is cromulent". A senior colleague told me last year ...
89
votes
7answers
19k views

What happens if a math PhD student fails to find a proof that is the main objective of his/her thesis topic?

How exactly do Math theses/dissertations work? Is it fair to assume that the work involves trying to prove something? What happens if you can't? I did a thesis in Computer Science, and though my ...
85
votes
9answers
16k views

Referee says the proof is wrong, but it is not, what to do?

About 3 months ago, my co-author and I submitted a mathematical paper to a journal. Yesterday, we got the editor's response and the paper has been rejected. The reason is that the referee thinks that ...
84
votes
11answers
24k views

Where did I lose control of my studies?

I am a 5th MSc semester mathematics student at a local German university. Since fall, I have been working on my thesis, which is the only remaining task for finishing my studies. I had not had ...
81
votes
4answers
14k views

How do mathematicians conduct research?

I am curious as to how mathematicians conduct research. I hope some of you can help me solve this little mystery. To me, mathematics is a branch where you either get it or you don't. If you see the ...
76
votes
7answers
14k views

Should I admit that I can't find a solution to a math problem?

The problem is pretty much the title. I have a bachelor and master degree in applied math. I have been assigned a small problem to start with, from a professor (who is considered very good in my field)...
76
votes
4answers
7k views

Is someone who solely contributes negative feedback to a paper considered an author?

Say person A and person B are collaborating on a mathematics paper. It goes like this: person A repeatedly suggests proofs, and person B repeatedly finds flaws in them. Over time, this process ...
71
votes
12answers
19k views

My math students consider me a harsh grader. Is my teaching attitude wrong?

I am a math major grad student at a big public school, and we need to do TA every semester. I got assigned to lower level classes last couple semesters, and it's been quite difficult for me. Even ...
69
votes
6answers
8k views

Should all authors on a paper be comfortable explaining every aspect of the paper?

Say I am person A who has built up some degree of expertise in mathematical topic X. Person B works on mathematical topic Y and realizes she needs a result from topic X. She asks me if I know how to ...
67
votes
9answers
17k views

What do mathematics researchers do if they aren't good?

I am a high school student so I don't know much about academia, but I would like to clear up some confusion I have over research in mathematics. Please excuse my naivite/ignorance on this topic. I ...
65
votes
7answers
11k views

How to care less about teaching?

Fifth year math grad student as of this Fall. ABD, currently on target for six years in total. I have very strong feelings about the way courses should be taught, graded, and organized. I have ...
62
votes
14answers
16k views

I got accepted into a math PhD program but I don't feel adequate enough to attend

I got accepted into a school that I really wanted to go to for a math PhD. I finished my masters and I love math very much. It's something that I've always been extremely passionate about. I used to ...
61
votes
16answers
13k views

Inadmissible theorems in research

One of my engineering friends told me how he once had to take a make-up calculus I exam due to being hospitalised and so self-studied a lot of the missed topics. For the make-up exam, he used L'...
61
votes
12answers
12k views

Reject a paper based on relevant but pointless research direction

Disclaimer: this is a hypothetical question, not (immediately) related to any concrete past, present or future reviewed paper. My context is the no man's land between Computer Science and Applied ...
59
votes
4answers
5k views

How does it affect the treatment of a mathematician's results, if that mathematician was a Nazi?

I've been studying uses of quaternions to study various types of orbifolds. The important thing here though is that I came across an absolutely incredible result due to Vahlen in 1901, that apparently ...
58
votes
11answers
17k views

Is it frowned upon to go to office hours as a graduate student?

I'm a graduate student (PhD, first year) in physics, and there have been a few times where I just can't figure out something regarding the material/subject of the class. Normally I just tell myself ...
58
votes
3answers
10k views

How to acknowledge a MathOverflow user?

I am writing a research paper. A small but important idea for the paper was found on MathOverflow. I know the real name of the user. I tried contacting him and offered him co-authorship, but I got no ...
56
votes
10answers
14k views

Asking a professor to teach better

In my mathematics program, one of the qual prep courses is being taught by a professor who, put bluntly, is not putting in the effort. He is essentially reading from the book (which I don’t ...
56
votes
1answer
5k views

I found a nontrivial mistake in my currently-under-review paper. Should I send a correction to the editor?

I submitted the paper to a respectable journal about five months ago. My field is mathematics, and I'm at the postdoc stage of my career. The proof of one of my theorems is more or less completely ...
55
votes
15answers
14k views

If you know a family member who is much more qualified and capable in mathematics than you are, should find another field of specialisation?

Imposter Syndrome and depression: I feel pretty depressed that I am not as "qualified" as a close family member. In particular, this family member has undergraduate and graduate (PhD) degrees from Ivy ...
55
votes
9answers
14k views

How to proceed when a mathematical result contradicts existing literature?

An author has proven an interesting mathematical result, but notices that this result contradicts existing literature. Does the author have to find an explicit error or counter-example to the ...
55
votes
9answers
11k views

Is there such a thing as fraud in mathematics?

Can you commit fraud in a mathematics publication? Or is this a privilege of empirical sciences? If a mathematician jumps from one bit of information to another that does not follow logically, from ...
53
votes
10answers
8k views

Would a high stack exchange rep make a difference in a job interview?

So, quick background information. I am a PhD student in mathematics going into graph theory. I hope to either do a post-doc or (hopefully!) get a tenure-track position at a research-oriented ...
53
votes
7answers
7k views

Is it standard for a math research paper to include less detail in proofs than a typical textbook would?

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student in Mathematics. Recently, I read a mathematics paper. It seems that the proof in the paper is not as convincing as what one might find in a textbook. For ...
51
votes
7answers
11k views

Student wants to show everybody how much he knows

I have read this question, where the OP asked how to handle silly questions. In the excellent answer of Irwin, the 6th point attracted my attention: If it's a matter of the student talking on and ...
51
votes
7answers
8k views

Will not collaborating hurt the career of a math postdoc?

I am a math postdoc, and about to start applying for tenure-track (research oriented) jobs soon. Besides writing 2 papers with my Phd advisor while I was in graduate school, all the papers I wrote ...
50
votes
11answers
19k views

Why would a professor (say in pure math) want to take PhD students?

Why would a professor doing pure math/ theoretical computer science want to take PhD students? I understand that in computational and experimental sciences taking students is at least beneficial to ...
50
votes
4answers
7k views

Publication - discovered an error in the proof of theorem which the referees have not spotted, what to do?

I have finished my Phd in maths shortly. A few days ago, I have heard a revision decision from a very good journal where I submitted my paper. The comments from referees are generally fairly positive, ...
49
votes
7answers
9k views

Publishing a result that is aesthetically pleasing, but has no practical value

I am currently writing a paper that I wish to publish in a mathematics journal. During the course of my research, I have discovered a result that is aesthetically pleasing, i.e., contains a form of ...
48
votes
7answers
6k views

Should I agree to review papers as a postdoc?

I am a post doc in mathematics, and was just sent a request to review a paper. This is the first time it happened to me. I never heard of this journal before, but it is a Springer journal, and upon ...
48
votes
6answers
7k views

How hard is it to succeed in research after an adviser's death midway through PhD?

TL;DR: How hard would it be to finish out a Ph.D. and have an effective early career (as a pure mathematician) after my adviser has unexpectedly passed away? My department does not have any tenure-...
47
votes
7answers
8k views

Referee made a mistake but recommended acceptance, what to do?

I recently received a referee report on a math paper in a mid-tier journal. In this paper I proved (to give an example avoiding technicalities) that all dogs are cute. But the referee claimed in his ...
47
votes
5answers
48k views

Non academic career options for PhD in Math

I am thinking of getting my M.S. in Computer Science. I chose C.S. because I enjoy programming and because its a solid choice, career wise. Low unemployment, good pay, all that jazz. But my real ...
45
votes
2answers
4k views

Unsolicited request for a scientific collaboration

I have a research problem in an area of Mathematics. There is mathematician whose domain of expertise is very near to the subject of my problem. I read frequently his works, he probably doesn't know ...
44
votes
4answers
4k views

Percentage of PhD's in mathematics with no publications

I have recently read the following statistics in the book "The Survival of a Mathematician: From Tenure to Emeritus" by Steven G. Krantz, which seems a little odd: It is a hard fact that more than ...
43
votes
12answers
8k views

How to resolve grading dispute between TA and Lecturer?

On a math exam recently, the students were asked to use the definition of a limit of a sequence to prove that the sequence given by 3n/(3n+5) converges to 1. Given a positive number Ɛ, the definition ...
43
votes
4answers
3k views

How many times can you present the same material at different conferences before it becomes stale?

I just finished my PhD in Mathematics and am in between my PhD and postdoc positions. I was very fortunate to have the ability to present my research to seminars and conferences over the last couple ...
42
votes
3answers
3k views

Applying for postdocs: mention two-body problem in cover letter?

My spouse and I are both finishing Ph.D's in math and applying for math postdocs in the US. We work in different areas of math, but there are many departments in which both are prominently represented....
40
votes
4answers
5k views

Should one avoid using the phrase “note that” in math writings?

I always thought that the phrase "note that" in a mathematical writing is simply something you say to express that what comes after "note that" is a fact. Due to its neutrality and versatility, I use ...
40
votes
4answers
7k views

What did a good academic job market for mathematicians look like and could it ever come back?

I'm about to enter a math PhD program at a pretty good school, but the job market for research university professors has been terrible as far as I can remember (since the late 2000s recession). I hear ...
39
votes
4answers
11k views

Is this footnote from one of Perelman's papers meant to be a joke, or is it mandatory to list one's source of funding?

In one of Grigori Perelman's papers, on the first page there's a footnote where he says, ∗St.Petersburg branch of Steklov Mathematical Institute, Fontanka 27, St.Petersburg 191011, Russia. Email:...
39
votes
5answers
10k views

Should I abandon an open math problem, if it hasn't been actively studied since the mid-1980s?

There is an open math problem that I am interested in. There was a lot of progress in fully working out the problem in low-dimensions and progress towards sub-problems of the main question up until ...
39
votes
7answers
6k views

Is it a bad idea not to use slides in my Ph.D. oral defense?

I am preparing for my Ph.D. oral defense in mathematics and am reading tips from various resources. It seems that the usage of slides is usually assumed, though it is generally not required. For me, I ...
38
votes
7answers
8k views

What if the lecturer is not rigorous?

I study mathematics as my major subject and theoretical physics and statistics as my minor subjects. I found that, sometimes in physics or statistics lectures, the lecturer makes mistakes, like ...
38
votes
6answers
5k views

What's an efficient way to learn simple formulas by heart without understanding?

Is there an unorthodox way to memorize formulas for daily use, similar to the assimilation of multiplication tables in primary school? I included 'without understanding' because I do understand the ...
37
votes
9answers
14k views

How do professors view a student who has good grades but always asks stupid questions?

I am planning to apply for Ph.D programs in mathematics in U.S. and I am thinking about which professors I should ask for letters of recommendations from. In order to get "strong" letters, I need to ...