Ciro Santilli intends to move his beauty list here little by little: github.com/cirosantilli/mathematics/blob/master/beauty.md
The most beautiful things in mathematics are results that are:
- simple to state but hard to prove:
- surprising results: we had intuitive reasons to believe something as possible or not, but a theorem shatters that conviction and brings us on our knees, sometimes via pathological counter-examples. General surprise themes include:Lists:
- applications: make life easier and/or modeling some phenomena well, e.g. in physics. See also: explain how to make money with the lesson
Good lists of such problems Lists of mathematical problems.
Whenever Ciro Santilli learns a bit of mathematics, he always wonders to himself:
Am I achieving insight, or am I just memorizing definitions?Unfortunately, due to how man books are written, it is not really possible to reach insight without first doing a bit of memorization. The better the book, the more insight is spread out, and less you have to learn before reaching each insight.
This is in contrast to conjectures in certain areas where you'd have to study for a few months just to precisely understand all the definitions and the interest of the problem statement.
Randomly reproduced at: web.archive.org/web/20080105074243/http://personal.stevens.edu/~nkahl/Top100Theorems.html
In mathematics, a "classification" means making a list of all possible objects of a given type.
- classification of finite simple groups
- classification of regular polytopes
- classification of closed surfaces, and more generalized generalized Poincaré conjectures
- classification of associative real division algebras
- classification of finite fields
- classification of simple Lie groups
- classification of the wallpaper groups and the space groups
Good place to hunt for the beauty of mathematics.
He's a bit overly obsessed with polynomials for the taste of modern maths, but it's still fun.
Ciro Santilli would like to fully understand the statements and motivations of each the problems!
Hard to understand the motivation!
- Riemann hypothesis: a bunch of results on prime numbers, and therefore possible applications to cryptographyOf course, everything of interest has already been proved conditionally on it, and the likely "true" result will in itself not have any immediate applications.As is often the case, the only usefulness would be possible new ideas from the proof technique, and people being more willing to prove stuff based on it without the risk of the hypothesis being false.
- Yang-Mills existence and mass gap: this one has to do with findind/proving the existence of a more decent formalization of quantum field theory that does not resort to tricks like perturbation theory and effective field theory with a random cutoff value