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Let's See More Raised Hands...

Good questions are common in mathematics...and hopefully, some good answers exist as well. The Sci.Math FAQ Team compiled Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) about Mathematics, with topics ranging from trivia to subjects such as Wiles recent proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.

Alex Lopez-Ortiz headed the Sci.Math FAQ effort, involving scientists across five countries. No new entries in the FAQ list have been made since 1997; does this mean the Sci.Math FAQ group is defunct or that no new FAQs in mathematics have arisen (a depressing thought!).

Nonetheless, the compilation is contained in a 75-page FAQ-pdf. It can be a handy guide for mathematics teachers...and their students who hopefully are asking interesting questions.

To whet your appetite, consider the "Table of Contents":

  1. Fundamentals
    • Algebraic structures
    • What are numbers?
  2. Number Theory
    • Fermat's Last Theorem
    • Prime Numbers
  3. Special Numbers and Functions
    • How to compute digits of pi ?
    • Euler's formula: e(i pi) = -1
    • What is 00?
    • Why does 0.99999.... = 1?
    • Name for f(x)(f(x)) = x
    • Some Famous Mathematical Constants
  4. Human Interest
    • Indiana bill sets the value of pi to 3
    • Fields Medal
    • Erdos Number
    • Why is there no Nobel in mathematics?
    • International Mathematics Olympiad and Other Competitions
    • Who is N. Bourbaki?
  5. Mathematical Trivia
    • Names of Large Numbers
  6. Famous Problems in Mathematics
    • The Four Color Theorem
    • The Trisection of an Angle
    • Which are the 23 Hilbert Problems?
    • Unsolved Problems
  7. Mathematical Games
    • The Monty Hall problem
    • Master Mind
  8. Axiom of Choice and Continuum Hypothesis
    • The Axiom of Choice
    • Cutting a sphere into pieces of larger volume
    • The Continuum Hypothesis
  9. Formulas of General Interest
    • How to determine the day of the week, given the month, day and year
    • Symbolic Computation Packages
    • Formula for the Surface Area of a sphere in Euclidean N-Space
    • Formula to compute compound interest.
A suggested project: Each mathematics teacher and their classes of students should yearly build a FAQ for Mathematics, which could then be used in future years. Just a thought, as it would help get students asking good questions, as long as they are willing to hang around to help find answers.