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    It is probably in the same spirit of 'colorful language in mathematics' thread but I was wondering what could a big list of similes that illuminate abstract concepts: such as sheaf, fiber, cohomology (Betti was a chemist), snake lemma... Since English is not my mother tongue people who are privy to etymologies perhaps may see the connections between abstract and the metaphor faster.

    If it is acceptable I will refine or expand it further.

    Thank you.
    I would vote to close this question.

    Because it is so broad, this question lacks a sense of urgency. It doesn't have a specific goal. Instead, it has the flavor "tell me stuff and maybe I'll learn something," which I don't think is a good approach for a question.

    However, if you have a specific concept that you've been trying to wrap your head around for some reason, asking for metaphors or intuition about it can make for an awesome question. Just make sure to do some background work and make clear what you already understand and what you're hoping to get out of an answer. For example, "what is the meaning of depth of a ring?" looks almost like you're asking for the definition. Instead of asking that, you'd read the wikipedia page and explain why it doesn't answer your question. Something like this would be an improvement: "I'm happy with dimension, and in good (Cohen-Macaulay) cases, depth agrees with dimension. In general, is there a good geometric interpretation of depth? Is there an intuitive geometric criterion to test if a ring is Cohen-Macaulay?"

    @Anton Geraschenko

    Thank you for the clarification. (That alone deserves a badge!)
    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2012

    @Anton, you should add the depth example to the FAQ so we can easily point to it in a place where everyone should have read it.


    I have been thinking about it and I wonder if a question in the following line is acceptable:

    What are some examples of architectural terms used by Bourbaki and Tits in Theory of Buildings?

    Or is it still too broad and vague? (My motivation was a CW question). Other than apartments, cells, buildings, chambers, I only found carrefour.

    Your question is not vague, but it does not appear to have much mathematical content.

    At any rate, your list is missing the term "gallery", which refers to a sequence of chambers connected by walls.