Portal:Mathematics
The Mathematics Portal
Mathematics is the study of numbers, quantity, space, pattern, structure, and change. Mathematics is used throughout the world as an essential tool in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences. Applied mathematics, the branch of mathematics concerned with application of mathematical knowledge to other fields, inspires and makes use of new mathematical discoveries and sometimes leads to the development of entirely new mathematical disciplines, such as statistics and game theory. Mathematicians also engage in pure mathematics, or mathematics for its own sake, without having any application in mind. There is no clear line separating pure and applied mathematics, and practical applications for what began as pure mathematics are often discovered.
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An example of a map projection: the area-preserving Mollweide projection of the earth. Image credit: NASA |
A map projection is any method used in cartography (mapmaking) to represent the dimensional surface of the earth or other bodies. The term "projection" here refers to any function defined on the earth's surface and with values on the plane, and not necessarily a geometric projection.
Flat maps could not exist without map projections, because a sphere cannot be laid flat over a plane without distortions. One can see this mathematically as a consequence of Gauss's Theorema Egregium. Flat maps can be more useful than globes in many situations: they are more compact and easier to store; they readily accommodate an enormous range of scales; they are viewed easily on computer displays; they can facilitate measuring properties of the terrain being mapped; they can show larger portions of the earth's surface at once; and they are cheaper to produce and transport. These useful traits of flat maps motivate the development of map projections.
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A Klein bottle is an example of a closed surface (a two-dimensional manifold) that is non-orientable (no distinction between the "inside" and "outside"). This image is a representation of the object in everyday three-dimensional space, but a true Klein bottle is an object in four-dimensional space. When it is constructed in three-dimensions, the "inner neck" of the bottle curves outward and intersects the side; in four dimensions, there is no such self-intersection (the effect is similar to a two-dimensional representation of a cube, in which the edges seem to intersect each other between the corners, whereas no such intersection occurs in a true three-dimensional cube). Also, while any real, physical object would have a thickness to it, the surface of a true Klein bottle has no thickness. Thus in three dimensions there is an inside and outside in a colloquial sense: liquid forced through the opening on the right side of the object would collect at the bottom and be contained on the inside of the object. However, on the four-dimensional object there is no inside and outside in the way that a sphere has an inside and outside: an unbroken curve can be drawn from a point on the "outer" surface (say, the object's lowest point) to the right, past the "lip" to the "inside" of the narrow "neck", around to the "inner" surface of the "body" of the bottle, then around on the "outer" surface of the narrow "neck", up past the "seam" separating the inside and outside (which, as mentioned before, does not exist on the true 4-D object), then around on the "outer" surface of the body back to the starting point (see the light gray curve on this simplified diagram). In this regard, the Klein bottle is a higher-dimensional analog of the Möbius strip, a two-dimensional manifold that is non-orientable in ordinary 3-dimensional space. In fact, a Klein bottle can be constructed (conceptually) by "gluing" the edges of two Möbius strips together.
In the news
- 19 March 2019 –
- The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awards this year's Abel Prize to Karen Uhlenbeck for "her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems." Uhlenbeck is the first woman to win this prize. (The New York Times via MSN.com)
Did you know…
- ... that no matter how biased a coin one uses, flipping a coin to determine whether each edge is present or absent in a countably infinite graph will always produce the same graph, the Rado graph?
- ...that in Floyd's algorithm for cycle detection, the tortoise and hare move at very different speeds, but always finish at the same spot?
- ...that in graph theory, a pseudoforest can contain trees and pseudotrees, but cannot contain any butterflies, diamonds, handcuffs, or bicycles?
- ...that it is not possible to configure two mutually inscribed quadrilaterals in the Euclidean plane, but the Möbius–Kantor graph describes a solution in the complex projective plane?
- ...that the six permutations of the vector (1,2,3) form a hexagon in 3D space, the 24 permutations of (1,2,3,4) form a truncated octahedron in four dimensions, and both are examples of permutohedra?
- ...that the Rule 184 cellular automaton can simultaneously model the behavior of cars moving in traffic, the accumulation of particles on a surface, and particle-antiparticle annihilation reactions?
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