Questions tagged [visualization]

For questions about visualizing mathematical concepts. This includes questions about visualization of mathematical theorems and proofs without words.

864 questions
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Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain

Since I'm not that good at (as I like to call it) 'die-hard-mathematics', I've always liked concepts like the golden ratio or the dragon curve, which are easy to understand and explain but are mathematically beautiful at the same time. Do you know…
284
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14 answers

Help with a prime number spiral which turns 90 degrees at each prime

I awoke with the following puzzle that I would like to investigate, but the answer may require some programming (it may not either). I have asked on the meta site and believe the question to be suitable and hopefully interesting for the…
Karl
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177
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Proving the identity $\sum_{k=1}^n {k^3} = \big(\sum_{k=1}^n k\big)^2$ without induction

I recently proved that $$\sum_{k=1}^n k^3 = \left(\sum_{k=1}^n k \right)^2$$ using mathematical induction. I'm interested if there's an intuitive explanation, or even a combinatorial interpretation of this property. I would also like to see any…
154
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16 answers

What's new in higher dimensions?

This is a very speculative/soft question; please keep this in mind when reading it. Here "higher" means "greater than 3". What I am wondering about is what new geometrical phenomena are there in higher dimensions. When I say new I mean phenomena…
Chequez
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135
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25 answers

Visually deceptive "proofs" which are mathematically wrong

Related: Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain Beside the wonderful examples above, there should also be counterexamples, where visually intuitive demonstrations are actually wrong. (e.g. missing square puzzle) Do you know the…
puzzlet
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119
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5 answers

How were 'old-school' mathematics graphics created?

I really enjoy the style of technical diagrams in many mathematics books published in the mid-to-late 20th century. For example, and as a starting point, here is a picture that I just saw today: Does anybody know how this graphic was created? Were…
TSGM
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86
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Regular way to fill a $1\times1$ square with $\frac{1}{n}\times\frac{1}{n+1}$ rectangles?

The series $$\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n(n+1)}=1$$ suggests it might be possible to tile a $1\times1$ square with nonrepeated rectangles of the form $\frac{1}{n}\times\frac{1}{n+1}$. Is there a known regular way to do this? Just playing and not…
2'5 9'2
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Visual proof of $\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^4} = \frac{\pi^4}{90}$?

In his gorgeous paper "How to compute $\sum \frac{1}{n^2}$ by solving triangles", Mikael Passare offers this idea for proving $\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$: Proof of equality of square and curved areas is based on another…
68
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4 answers

Algebra: Best mental images

I'm curious how people think of Algebras (in the universal sense, i.e., monoids, groups, rings, etc.). Cayley diagrams of groups with few generators are useful for thinking about group actions on itself. I know that a categorical approach is…
59
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7 answers

Visualizing the 4th dimension.

In a freshers lecture of 3-D geometry, our teacher said that 3-D objects can be viewed as projections of 4-D objects. How does this helps us visualize 4-D objects? I searched that we can at least see their 3-D cross-sections. A Tesseract hypercube…
pooja somani
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55
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14 answers

Interesting math-facts that are visually attractive

To give a talk to 17-18 years old (who have a knack for mathematics) about how interesting mathematics (and more specifically pure mathematics) can be, I wanted to use nice facts accompanied by nice looking visualizations. However, the underlying…
53
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4 answers

What is the explanation for this visual proof of the sum of squares?

Supposedly the following proves the sum of the first-$n$-squares formula given the sum of the first $n$ numbers formula, but I don't understand it.
Nitin
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51
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Pattern "inside" prime numbers

Update $(2020)$ I've observed a possible characterization and a possible parametrization of the pattern, and I've additionally rewritten the entire post with more details and better definitions. It remains to prove the observed possible…
Vepir
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The Stupid Computer Problem : can every polynomial be written with only one $x$?

When I was a child, I wanted to be a mathematician so I asked my parents to buy me a computer to make super complex calculations. Of course, they were not crazy enough to buy an expensive super computer, so they bought me a way cheaper Stupid…
Pyrofoux
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Proof without words of $\oint zdz = 0$ and $\oint dz/z = 2\pi i$

I found this visual "proof" of $\oint zdz = 0$ and $\oint dz/z = 2\pi i$ quite compelling and first want to share it with you. But I have a real question, too, which I will ask at the end of this post, so please stay tuned. Consider the unit circle…
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