# What are some the strangest things that have happened in the study of mathematic ...

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In 1978, John McKay noticed that 196884=196883 + 1. This caused much mathematical fervor, launching a project that took almost 15 years to complete, leading to some seminal papers on the topic. This may sound odd, so perhaps I should explain a little. The key was that 196884 was the third coefficient of the Fourier expansion of the j-invariant, an important function in number theory.196883, on the other hand, was the dimension of an irreducible representation of the Monster group, an important object from group theory, which at the time was not known to have any connection with number theory whatsoever.The conjecture that followed was basically this: the Fourier coefficients of the j-invariant could be given in terms of the dimensions of the irreducible representations of the monster group, tying together two different branches of mathematics. This came to be known as Monstrous moonshine, and the associated conjectures were finally proved in 1992 by Richard Borcherds.Mathematics has few coincidences. If you see a coincidence, that usually means that there is something larger that is hiding in the background that you just haven't figured out yet.