What Is Research?

August 9, 2009

Collaborative mathematics, etc.

Filed under: polymath — vipulnaik @ 12:51 am

UPDATE: See the polymath project backgrounder for the latest information.

It’s been some time since I last wrote about the polymath project (see this, this for past coverage), and an even longer time since I wrote an extremely lengthy blog post about Michael Nielsen’s ideas about collaborative science.

The first polymath project, polymath1, was about the density Hales-Jewett theorem. This was declared a success, since the original problem was solved within about a month, though the writing up of the paper is still proceeding. The problem for the project was proposed by Timothy Gowers.

Terry Tao (WordPress blog) has now started a polymath blog discussing possible open problems for the polymath project, strategies for how to organize the problem-selection and problem-solving process, and other issues related to writing up final solutions and sharing of credit.

In this blog post, Jon Udell reflects on how the introduction of LaTeX typesetting into wordpress was a positive factor in getting talented mathematicians like Terence Tao and Timothy Gowers into the blogosphere, and leading to innovative user projects such as the polymath project. Udell notes that introducing existing typesetting solutions into new contexts such as Internet blogging software can have profound positive effects. (more…)


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