What Is Research?

October 26, 2009

Polymath again

Filed under: Culture and society of research — vipulnaik @ 10:42 pm

Timothy Gowers and Michael Nielsen have written an article for Nature magazine about the polymath project (I blogged about this here and here).

In the meantime, Terence Tao started a polymath blog here, where he initiated four discussion threads (1, 2, 3 and 4) on deterministic ways to find primes (I’m not quite sure how that’s proceeding — the last post was on August 28, 2009). (UPDATE: A new post (thread 5) was put up shortly after I published my blog post).

Around the same time, Gil Kalai started a polymath on the polynomial Hirsch conjecture (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).

Also, some general discussion posts on polymath projects: by Tim Gowers and by Terence Tao.

It remains to be seen whether any of these projects are able to reach successful conclusions or make substantial inroads into the problem. If there is another success for a polymath project, then that would be a major booster to the idea of polymath projects. Otherwise, it might raise the question of whether the unexpected degree of success of the first polymath project led by Gowers (which aimed for, and got, an elementary proof of the density Hales-Jewett theorem) was an anomaly.

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