Talk:MathWorld

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See also Template:MathWorld (backlinks · edit).

Eric's Treasure Trove[edit]

I've changed Eric's Treasure Trove of Mathematics to Eric's Treasure Trove of Science because the FAQ's at MathWorld and ScienceWorld both seem to indicate that the original title of his first website (compiled from his working notes) was Eric's Treasure Trove of Science. I'm uncertain this is correct, but sufficiently certain to update it to reflect "science". Can someone please confirm this or cite a counterexample for where it was listed as "...of Math"?

--SocratesJedi —Preceding comment was added at 09:13, 17 July 2004

Quality section and NPOV concerns[edit]

I removed the Quality section:

MathWorld as of 2000 is fill with egregious errors and misleading materials. For example, it purports that a sphere is a minimal surface, and Wallpaper Groups being finite group. There are huge amounts of questionable entries from lay-men level creational math books. The large amountt of errors and copy-and-paste exerpts from diverse popular books can still be seen as of 2004-12.

As it stands, it is simply not neutrally worded. Furthermore, there is no independent assesment provided here. Regardless of whether these errors are valid or not, Wikipedia cannot take a POV on the matter. It must come from some other source. Dysprosia 09:51, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Do one personally actually have proper experience regarding the subject matter? If not, please do not be an NPOV/POV wiki addict and wanting to touch everything. Leave articles to qualified people. Now, if and when somebody has personal experience or related assertions to contribute on the subject matter, we may then discuss proofs. Xah Lee 11:23, 2005 Jan 3 (UTC)
You are making two assumptions both which do nothing at all to address the problem at hand: that I do not know about the subject matter at hand, and that I have come to this article randomly. Both are incorrect. It is counterproductive for you to say "Leave articles to qualified people" when the objection I raise has nothing to do with qualifications but with Wikipedia policy which you should be already familiar with.
I shall reiterate: regardless of whether these errors are valid or not, regardless of whether you personally can provide proofs of these errors or not, Wikipedia cannot take a point of view on the matter, nor promote a point of view of its subject matter. That is intrinsic to the "non-negotiable" Wikipedia:NPOV policy that all edits must come under. When someone else independently points out these errors of Mathworld, then we can highlight and add them. Dysprosia 13:02, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
just don't meta edit. Some people hogs wikipedia all over every article, majority of which fluff edits. For wikipedia to progress seriously, it needs more professionals, and less fluff edits and POV/NPOV police. Xah Lee 20:50, 2005 Jan 3 (UTC)
I am not "meta editing". NPOV is not negotiable. You can't simply skip it using the reasoning that Wikipedia needs to progress seriously without it. You have avoided the point again. Dysprosia 23:33, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:No original research. Ambi 00:00, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I've personally found that on occasion when I look at MathWorld, there is some kind of error or misleading remark or just nonsense. I wouldn't say it occurs most of the time, just sometimes. It's been a source of discussion on the newsgroup sci.math, with different mathematicians pitching in and giving their opinion that MathWorld is not very reliable. So as for verification, there could be a link to some of these usenet postings that have been stored by Google Groups. I don't think anybody (besides Xah Lee) would say it's filled with errors though. It's simply not fair or accurate to say it is. The entire section should be rewritten to say something like "concerns have been raised regarding the number of errors in MathWorld. As its popularity as a reference grows, some worry that it is seen as authoritative when, in their eyes, it is rather just a convenient source of information" and then give some cites to some usenet postings. --C S 10:49, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)

I've deleted the "quality" section. As it stood, it was filled with unsubstantiated claims. I've given one solution above on how to write such a section. Another way would be to find some source who has done some kind of substantive study showing MathWorld is consistently wrong, more than say, Wikipedia or any other source, online or otherwise. But that kind of study would be difficult, I imagine. In any case, it's better, I think, to delete it for now since it may take a while to write a reasonable section on MathWorld and quality issues. --C S 12:38, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)

I've written something up using your guidelines and posted it. Please comment on it. I did look for a list of inconsistencies in MathWorld as is suggested by some posters to sci.math, but it seems that any post is necessary incomplete because Eric Weisstein, the encyclopedist of MathWorld, would have corrected these errors soon after they were found. I suggest that we also add some sort of comment like "MathWorld has been improving from 2000-2004" since it's true because errors have time to be identified. I even read one poster at sci.math that used to routinely submit error lists to Weisstein in order to make mathworld better. In any case, I also think it might be good to have some type of opposing side that claims that MathWorld is pretty good in order to be NPOV. I felt slightly like I was running MathWorld down, but tried to be as NPOV as possible with the information I have. In any case, I hope this is a good start on some sort of compromise. Let me know what you think here or on my talk page. Regards, -SocratesJedi 22:40, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I really like what you've done! The only thing I have a problem with is "some people suggest that there are sometimes misleading or false statements.". This, to my ears, is like saying "some people suggest that on the internet there are sometimes misleading or false statements". It's verifiable that there were (and are) still errors and there is no need to interpret NPOV in this case as saying we should not point out something factually correct. Of course, there is that issue of errors getting fixed as they are getting pointed out; I'm tempted to go find some errors, but as soon as they are on Wikipedia, I'm sure Weisstein will fix it! In any case, I don't think the fact that the found errors are no longer there should stop us from saying "people have found errors". If Weisstein and Wolfram want to dispute that, they can and become laughingstocks. But I doubt they will :-) Even though the "evidence" may no longer be there, since nobody is going to dispute that errors have been found (and fixed), I think it's ok to say so. --C S 23:39, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)
Good point, Chan-Ho Suh. I'm trying to reword this to reflect this. Also on my talk page, Dysprosia requested that I post a few of the links from the usenet group sci.math that show charges of inaccuracy. They're actually kind of hard to find since there aren't any blatent posts that are dedicated to talking about mathworld's inaccuracy but most references come up when some user attempts to cite mathworld as a resource and then someone says "Well, you can't trust that, let me see what you've got here" or something to that effect.. Anyway, a very incomplete list:
Anyway, I've updated my edit... Please comment on it or directly edit it yourself as well.
Regards, -SocratesJedi 00:10, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I removed the word "occasionally" from "there have occasionally been incorrect statements and typos in MathWorld articles." I have found too many severe errors in combinatorics articles, which suggests to me that MathWorld cannot be relied upon (though it can be useful). I refrained from adding any indication of how often errors occur, and I propose we not try to decide that, but just say they happen. Zaslav 06:20, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

the moronicity of MathWorld and Wikipedia[edit]

dear wikipedia addicts:

whence did wikipedia became rule this and rule that? Use your brain and respect yourself. When you stick to a rule, it would be because you judge it proper. Meanwhile, try to improve your own learning, and respect those who have more than you. Try to get out of the sophomoron status. Ingest some perspectives hither and thither: http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/12/30/142458/25 (actually, go read a few printed books by dead authors)

as to the edit in question, See:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/WallpaperGroups.html
http://xahlee.org/SpecialPlaneCurves_dir/Intro_dir/eric_weisstein1999.png
http://xahlee.org/SpecialPlaneCurves_dir/Intro_dir/eric_weisstein2000.png

and you shall see how wallpaper group is waywardly categorized under Finite Groups. (if that is ever corrected, i demand an acknowdgement.) As to it asserting that the sphere is a minimal surface, i don't have a printed artifacts of evidence. But a gander at year 1999 version (http://icl.pku.edu.cn/yujs/MathWorld/math/s/s556.htm) and you'll see the veracity of the general comment of how bad the work was. And if you are a math professor teaching graduate courses, you are aware how full of egregious errors and inanities MathWorld is today.

MathWorld is to Mathematics as Wikipedia is to Britannica. Good for recreation, laughable for research. And that Eric W fellow is self-pitching auto-aggrandizing, so are wikipedians being OpenSourcing sophomorons in general. Nevertheless, they are tremendously useful as they are. They need not be burdened with the "encyclopedia" title. And i believe, thru evolution of the editing process and thoughts, eventually wikipedia can become a reference for experts as well. But that will not happen as long as these wiki-sophomorons chanting NPOV this or Wiki-Creeds that.

Xah Lee 09:45, 2005 Jan 4 (UTC)

You may firstly want to not insult your fellow editors who are acting in good faith to making sure that Wikipedia articles are falling under obvious Wikipedia policy which you should have already been aware of. Don't criticise other editors for trying to make articles compliant to mandatory policy which you have overlooked.
Secondly, I may ask you to use your own brain and think about your argument. You claim that Mathworld's sphere article says it's a minimal surface, yet the outdated copy you provide, and the current articles say nothing about minimal surfaces.
You criticise Mathworld's article for implying that the wallpaper groups are finite but you cannot provide any independent source that makes this criticism? Do you have any independent criticsm of Mathworld's accuracy? I have repeated this twice before (once should have been sufficient): Wikipedia cannot take a point of view. If you understood NPOV, you'd understand that we need independent criticism. This means criticism from someone other than you, or I, or anyone on Wikipedia. You would also understand that if you found this independent criticism, that would be entirely acceptable to list here?
Perhaps you need to stop your own self-aggrandizement and read up on some of Wikipedia's mandatory policy. Here is a link: Wikipedia:NPOV. Dysprosia 10:42, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Interesting links. I especially thought the comments about anti-elitism and antagonistic persons being a problem absolutely correct. But I'm rather puzzled by why you think you are justified in citing these articles and telling others to respect those "who have more [learning] than you". You certainly have not adhered to this kind of behavior yourself (cf Talk:Manifold). On the contrary, you've insulted the learned mathematicians who have been very courteous to you and also called their contributions "moronic". --C S 10:47, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)


addition of the moronicity of MathWorld and Wikipedia addicts[edit]

i check MathWorld perhaps once a month. Today i checked out the Whitney Umbrella doing research. And lo! it says that the Whitney Umbrella x^2-y^2*z == 0 has a handle that's the negative z-axis. What sophoremoron: “umbrella must have a handle!”. Btw,i've also saved it for future proof. Btw, Eric, if you ever corrected this one, i demand a acknowledgement on this too. Xah Lee 00:06, 2005 Jan 13 (UTC)

It's not just MathWorld calling it a "handle". It's kind of strange that you never actually mention contacting Wesstein yourself. Why don't you go and complain to him about these "errors" you've found? Dysprosia 00:33, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)
the moronicity refered to was the z<0 part, not the handle. Refrain from being a wikipedia bot. Xah Lee 14:41, 2005 Jan 26 (UTC)
Refrain from talking like a crank and go and tell Wesstein yourself then, instead of whinging about it here. Dysprosia 00:27, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I concur with Dysprosia. Calling the encyclopedia moronic because you disagree with that it says is uncalled for. This is made worse by the fact that you're complaining about an editorial issue. (It's true that the entire z-axis won't show up in plots, but there is no clear consensus about whether or not the positive axis is included in the handle of the whitney umbrella (and intuitively one might even be led to conclude that the restriction z<0 is more valid than "z element of the reals"). So, we realize that you're skilled in math, but ranting on wikipedia isn't the way to get your point across. Go and contact Eric Weisstein yourself if there are errors that you detect. The encyclopedia is good on the whole. Check your personal pride at the door and contribute something positive to wikipedia rather than launching on a vendetta against Eric and MathWorld. Wikipedia is a reference work, not an opinions forum. -SocratesJedi | Talk 00:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
mother fucking wikipedian idiots. Die! Xah Lee 09:57, 2005 Jan 31 (UTC)
Go take your abuse elsewhere. Wikipedia:No personal attacks. Dysprosia 10:32, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I believe what Xah Lee is complaining about is that MathWorld defines a parametrization of the Whitney Umbrella so that it ends at height z=1. So when the MathWorld article concludes at the end that the solution set to x^2 - y^2 z =0 is the union of the Whitney Umbrella and the handle (the negative z axis), this is incorrect since the solution set includes the positive z axis.
On the other hand, given his incoherent explanations of the error, I can't be anywhere near certain this is what he meant. Even if this is what Xah Lee meant, certainly his accusations of everyone behaving like "Wikipedia bot[s]" is unfounded. Xah Lee needs to learn to express his thoughts more clearly. He also needs to learn to behave. So here's my question: if Xah Lee continues to try and change the article, despite having done nothing than cuss everyone out and ramble incoherently, what can we do? It's irritating to have to keep constant guard. --C S 12:04, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
If Xah persists in abuse and reverting to POV versions of the article, we could attempt some step on the Wikipedia:Dispute resolution process... Dysprosia 12:33, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

the wikipedian morons have reverted the article to their collective moronic point of view. I simply havn't had time to involve their fucking disputes. I will make an effort to correct it though in the future. Just a note: all involvement in this edit war will be recorded by me, for i will possible publish an account of the moronicity of mathworld as i have opined, along with the wikipedian addicts's moronicity, including names or handles of the particants. Xah Lee 08:01, 2005 Apr 4 (UTC)

just another fact point i hope will effect some wiki morons involved in this dispute: about a week ago i looked up mathworld.com on cusp. Again, spectacular stupid info is presented there, by all perspectives. Just about every time i lookup mathworld for something, some egregious info shows. Xah Lee 08:06, 2005 Apr 4 (UTC)

Will we mention it in Wikipedia whenever * has been discussed and argued about on any forum? If there is a systematic problem with the quality of a long-established resource, by all means point out the erroneous information and allow the reader to judge it. There has been much less doubt of MathWorld's quality then, say, Wikipedia's. And as a proponent of Wikipedia.org, I tend to believe that that speaks highly of MathWorld.

It sounds like you are confusing comments about Wikipedia in general with comments about the math portion of Wikipedia. I haven't heard or read anything to suggest that the math portion of Wikipedia is considered of lesser quality than MathWorld. Quite the contrary. --C S 21:27, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
If * = Internet math resource and "any forum" = popular Internet math forum, then yes, we should mention it. In fact, it was necessary to mention it to appease an editor who had derogatory comments he wanted to insert. The result after much interaction, is, I believe, an article that is NPOV. To avoid future such incidents (which I am sure will occur, given the frequency of complaints on sci.math), I think the mention should stay.
As for pointing out the info, it's impossible to make a complete list that would not take up a lot of space, but certainly some of the erroneous info has been linked to, so I don't understand your complaint. The purpose of an article is not merely to point out all the relevant info and let the "reader judge it". It's oftentimes relevant and necessary to include expert opinions. It sounds like you believe MathWorld is of very high quality, and fine, you're entitled to your opinion. But what does that have to do with the fact that a number of people on the Internet complain about MathWorld quality? I think the current article does a pretty good job of NPOV, if you have any suggestions to make it even more so, they are welcome. --C S 21:58, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

As a professional mathematician who has occasionally looked at MathWorld to find either general information or exact definitions, I can say from my experience that MathWorld is convenient and useful for general information, but not reliable for details. I have found its unreliability is sufficiently high that I cannot be sure of its correctness in any statement and in order to be certain, I have to check it with an authoritative source (a research article or a book). Zaslav 05:41, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

differences between wikipedia and mathworld[edit]

On the contrary, it is very important that people know that wikipedia and mathworld disagree on certain important mathematical definitions. My guess would be that these are the two sources most often used by students today. They need to know that the two sources do not agree. Rick Norwood 14:03, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

It's obvious any two sources will disagree. We could state the same kind of thing on any article on any math resource if you wished. However, if you want to note differences in a new section, alright, that's fine with me. I thought your edit was not very good since it really seemed out of place. The fact of the matter is that an article on MathWorld is not really the place to mention Wikipedia's conventions - there should be a page on conventions somewhere, but since it's good to have the info somewhere....Oh, and if you want to re-add stuff, don't just revert all changes to the article since your edit. --C S 21:57, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

I removed the following: Readers should note that even in mathematics authorities do not always agree on definitions. For example, MathWorld does not require a ring to have an identity, Wikipedia does. Wikipedia does not require a manifold to have a fixed dimension, MathWorld does. wikipedia is not a primary source! If there are disagreements it is not between wikipedia and mathworld it is between wikipedia's sources and mathworld--unless someone was using original research, which is against wikipedia policy. If you think it is important for disagreements between Mathworld and other sources to be noted, mention those sources, not wikipedia (perhaps point out that wikipedia's sources don't always agree with Mathworld.) Dont just revert, as it stands the section is clearly unacceptable as it makes wikipedia out to be an authority, as opposed to a initial reference. --06:55, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia has to assume some definitions in order to describe a topic. It is necessary for Wikipedia to state those definitions and adopt a convention when it discusses these topics. Subsequently it may be appropriate to mention differences in definitions or conventions. In any case, why don't you excise mention of Wikipedia all together from the article? Would this not be logically consistent for you to do? Dysprosia 07:01, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia emphatically does not need to assume a set of definitions! Wikipedia articles aren't formal papers on the subjects, they are describing the subjects with all major contentions and controversey given due mention. If the article is written properly it should mention that there are several different definitions in the subject, not assume any of them. If someone is writing the article as a formal paper, or if someone is reading the article as a formal paper something has gone wrong. Understand now? This should not be controversial. --Brentt 00:50, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
Of course it does. If Wikipedia describes a theorem regarding rings, Wikipedia needs to describe somewhere whether we're talking about a ring with identity or not. One text may define a ring to have no identity, another may define a ring to have an identity; to avoid confusion Wikipedia needs to assume the definition one way or another. Dysprosia 01:11, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


Uggh, In a specific discussion about a ring, then yes. But not for the whole article!--Brentt 02:01, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) A good article should indeed mention there are alternate definitions, say, at the beginning, but obviously in the remainder of the article one of them should be used consistently to avoid ambiguity and confusion. Also, consistency needs to be maintained between different articles. I'm afraid I can't really make sense of why you would disagree with having conventions to maintain consistency. Your comments appear to me to confused as to the nature of mathematical writing. There are no real controversies over different definitions as such. The primary reason for differing definitions is convenience, and often a textbook writer may adopt a definition for the mere convenience of writing the book, but may adopt a different one for another. --C S (Talk) 02:04, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
What Chan said ;) Dysprosia 02:43, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


There is no need to assume a set of definitions for a whole article, it would be an incomplete article if only one approach, i.e. one set of definitions being used, were covered. And that ios the point, if wikipedia assumes one set of definitions, it is only because it is a incomplete article, which makes the comparison trivial at best, misleading at worst.
(BTW, I am not cofused about the nature of mathematical writing, I meant "contentions and controversey" in a very weak sense, although it was just a case of using the wrong word, I was writing it fast.)--Brentt 07:30, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Policy on linking to Mathworld?[edit]

Hi, I personally think mathworld is pretty good. Classic texts almost always have errors too, at least in the 1st edition. Mathworld is always growing so it's going to have mistakes in a 1st editionlike way. So does wikipedia, but our inaccuracies are so legendary they appear to be going w/o saying, at least on this talk page. Also, it's Weisstein's job, and he's good at it, so I bet it is comparable to the job done by volunteers here.Anyway, Wikipedians can help over at Mathworld too. -What I'm getting to is I think we should link Wikipedia math articles to Mathworld almost all the time. It is true that it's now sponsored by Wolfram but that's an historical accident and this cries out for an exception to any no commercial links policies. I also say it would be great to link to threads on sci.math.research if we could. The main idea is to be helpful.Rich 21:15, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

These matters have been discussed at Wikipedia: WikiProject Mathematics before. The general consensus, as I read it, is that it's a bad idea to make it some kind of semi-official policy to link to MathWorld as often as possible or to not link to it at all. It is a good idea to link to articles on MathWorld that are correct and helpful, but of course, that is just common sense and holds for linking in general. But it would be a mistake to just add a link to MathWorld for the sake of linking to it and also a mistake to not link to a good article on MathWorld because some other was not. In general, one should not link to something that one does not understand, but again, that is just common sense. --C S (Talk) 03:02, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

"revert link spam"? More than that was reverted. 10/8/06[edit]

Hello today I made several edits that I think improved this article. They were reverted under the explanation "revert link spam" -it may have been accidental that the reversions of my edits were unmentioned- There WAS a dubious link and it needed reverting, but let's all try to remember to describe briefly all the main things we do as a courtesy, or else say something like "did all kinds of edits". I put back in the most noncontroversial of my edits-"citation needed." If someone reverts it please say so when you do it, and I would like to discuss your reasons with you. It may help me learn more about editing.Rich 02:44, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Sorry about that Rich. I was reviewing the contributions of Spnashville, who had been placing link spam on other pages, and didn't check if there had been further edits since his. I will reinstate the article as it was before my revert except with the link removed. It was purely a mistake on my part. I have not read your contributions, so I make no judgement on them. Blarneytherinosaur talk 03:16, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
P.S. If you want some help with editing, you might like to try Wikipedia:Editing or Wikipedia:Help Desk. Blarneytherinosaur talk 03:19, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

OK, thanks, and no worries.Rich 03:25, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Usenet citations do not meet standards of WP:CITE[edit]

Both items in the references section are citations from Usenet, which does not meet the critera of a "reliable source" as per WP:CITE. After all the discussion and revisions to the Criticisms section, since this is the best anyone can do citationwise, perhaps the Criticism section should be axed. --69.124.53.47 14:41, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Access Clarity[edit]

"The free online version became only partially accessible to the public." Does not make any sense. Is this supposed to mean that a limited version was published for free access online? Or rather that the previously complete open-access version was reduced in scope as a result of the print deal? --Belg4mit 22:01, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Proposed deletion[edit]

This appears to exist only as a pointer to one of a series of websites operated by a commercial organisation as part of a promotional exercise. It cites no references. DMcMPO11AAUK/Talk/Contribs 08:53, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

It is a site widely used on Wikipedia as a reliable source for Wikipedia math articles. --Pleasantville 14:40, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Pleasantville. I added a reference to a journal article about MathWorld by Weinstein.--agr 15:53, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

This article doesn't appear that way to anyone except the person who nominated it for deletion. Michael Hardy 19:43, 28 October 2007 (UTC)