First time setting up monero miner, I see pools require wallet address, worker name and email address. What's the purpose of this email address? Nanopool's help page says YOUR_EMAIL - your email address for notifications. Optional. What kind of notifications are being talked about and is it mandatory to provide a valid email address?

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The email address is used as a login password to manage your payout threshold. Without a login password, anyone knowing your Monero address can manipulate your payout threshold. Some pools also use email address to send you regular hash rate reports or payout notifications. Once you start mining using your email as pool password, and have submitted a few valid shares, the pool will associate your Monero address with your email address. you can then login using Monero address as username and email as password.

is it mandatory to provide a valid email address?

Unless I misunderstand what Nanopool mean as "Optional", no, it is not mandatory. Without an email, you won't receive any notifications about your hash rate, and cannot configure your payout threshold. At the end of the day, you still get your Monero regardless of whether you give the pool your email or not.

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