Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics

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List of mathematical shapes[edit]

ALERT, List of mathematical shapes (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) has been greatly expanded by 300kB this month, by users occupying IP ranges and who have also been reverting each other. Some of the new additions are not mathematical shapes at all, and a proposal to rename the page exists at talk:List of mathematical shapes. Up until this rash of activity it was only 2.5kB large -- (talk) 05:18, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Unsourced material at Midy's theorem[edit]

Somebody restored unsourced material at Midy's theorem here: on the grounds that "this is referred to in other places in article". More precisely, the material derives from an unpublished 2005 article in a pdf at a personal homepage. If this has been published in the meantime by all means we can use this, but otherwise it seems more reasonable to remove these mentions "in other places in article". Tkuvho (talk) 10:22, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

This reference [1] may be helpful. Deltahedron (talk) 10:46, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
This published article by Ross is certainly a fine source if it proves the relevant generalization of Midy's theorem. Why should the page rely on an unpublished pdf from a homepage rather than a published article by Ross? Tkuvho (talk) 11:08, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
I restored the section headed "Extended Midy's theorem" because it had been excised without considering the rest of the article. As a result, the following section, which starts "Midy's theorem and its extension ...", could have left the casual reader baflled as to what the "extension" part refered to. There are further references to the extended theorem in the "Proof" section of the article. If we now have a better source for the extension, then certainly go ahead and add it to the article (I can only see a preview of the Ross article on JSTOR, so I am not clear whether this covers the extended theorem or not). Gandalf61 (talk) 14:23, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Problem at Ramsey theory[edit]

Could use more eyes at Ramsey theory. An editor has been putting in unpublished (look carefully at the references) new results and has been reverted three times now. Bill Cherowitzo (talk) 04:03, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

You mean Ramsey's theorem. I have applied temporary semiprotection to encourage the IP and the new editor to work for consensus. So far nobody has used the article talk page. EdJohnston (talk) 04:13, 23 September 2014 (UTC)


I have been attempting for some time to make the lead of the spinor article accessible to a wider audience, in part on my own impetus, but in part on the helpful urgings of others of varying skill levels. But now we seem to be at an impasse that would benefit from some outside input. Four milestones in the recent bout of edits are:

  • August 14 revision
  • This revision from yesterday, which was the culmination of I think the most input from other editors.
  • This revision from today, where I tried to get some "high brow" content into the first paragraph.
  • Finally, this is me giving up, and basically going back to the philosophy adopted by the August 14 revision, modulo saying things in hopefully a way that doesn't require the reader to know what an "irreducible representation" is, which I think is far beyond what likely readers of the article are already familiar with.

I would like some input on a way forward. It has already been suggested that the way forward is backwards, but I would find it hard to believe that all of the work and discussion in the mean time has been for naught. Sławomir Biały (talk) 12:48, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

There is now also this revision, thanks to helpful edits from User:RogierBrussee. I would appreciate any input from project members. Sławomir Biały (talk) 11:54, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
I have made a few further changes here. Someone else really needs to look at this the editing environment there has become problematic. One editor, who has accused me of ownership there (although it rather looks the other way around) is now threatening to revert to his preferred revision. The editor threatening to revert has run roughshod over rather a lot of discussion that has taken place, and not really correctly understood the sequence of edits that took place as the product of those discussions. I would happily welcome more constructive input, but this post seems to indicate no interest in constructive discussion. More opinions are urgently needed there. Sławomir Biały (talk) 18:06, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

To update, RogierBrussee has reverted to one of Sławomir's versions. M∧Ŝc2ħεИτlk 20:54, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Well, I think this revert leaves the lead in worse shape. Does anyone disagree? Sławomir Biały (talk) 20:55, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

I hate to say this, but it is not as good as this version you wrote, long before the "introduction" section was added. Based on the comments at talk:spinor not everyone is happy with it though... M∧Ŝc2ħεИτlk 21:05, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
I reverted to one edit after my last edit which was indeed an improvement. After that things got worse than what they were in my opinion. More to the point I had asked Slawomir to back off after he spent days improving things without getting to a satisfactory result and let me have a go at it to which he agreed, and I would let it be known that I was finished. I object to Slawomir taking of on a new editing spree just hours after my first edits and before I said I was finished. I wrote that i would revert his edits and I did. After that I moved the two more technical paragraphs to the overview section and deleted what was there. In my opinion that is an improvement. Slawomir obviously disagrees and reverted everything. There seems to be this mistaken idea that spinors are just like vectors and one just has to use some magic explanatory tool like the non simply connectedness of the Rotation group. That is just not true. Root systems or Clifford algebra's will get you the existence of spinor representations, and with a lot of explanation you can relate that to representation theory but it is just not trivial. Therefore it is pointless to try to explain things for the laymen. I am all in favour making things as simple as possible but not simpler. For example saying that the Clifford algebra is generated by the gamma matrices misses the point, because what you have to do is to construct a representation of the abstract Clifford algebra (which is constructed from the vector space) to a concrete matrix algebra. So every choice of orthonormal basis and every choice of gamma matrices gives a different, albeit isomorphic representation of the Clifford algebra and a different but isomorphic representation of the Spin group. See? Seems like a trivial difference at first but now start reading Weinbergs (otherwise excelent) book on quantum field and notice how he starts writing down explicit gamma matrices on page 3 or so, which is horrible because now what depends on the choice of gamma matrices and what does not. The worst thing about this whole affair is that all this energy would be better spent on other sections. I particularly hate the example section which seems to be written by someone from geometric algebra people that want every thing inside the Clifford algebra. It would be so much better if the different constructions were run through and compared in dimension 3 and 4 (and perhaps dimension 2). RogierBrussee (talk) 23:00, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── "Therefore it is pointless to try to explain things for the laymen." This is an absolutely wrong starting position in editing an article that is likely to be read by probably many high school and college students, who are "laymen" by the standards of the revisions you have in mind. The lead must at least convey a sense of what the thing is about to all of the likely readers of the article. To disregard this consideration is astonishing. Sławomir Biały (talk) 23:10, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. This flies in the face of WP:TECHNICAL. We should strive to keep the leads of our articles at as low a level of difficulty as possible, while retaining the details of the subject later in the articles. Writing an article that can be read only by people who are already experts is pointless. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:55, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
See my lengthy explanation on laymen in the Talk page.

TL;DR Given that many of the mathematically and physically literate people here are already somewhat confused on the details about this subject (really nobodies fault I hasten to say, the confusion is widely taught), clarity and correctness take precedence over intuitive understanding because _there is no intuitive route to the existence of spinors_ , at least not one that I and apparently Michael Atiyah is aware of. The properties of spinors are easy enough to explain for say first year physics students, and I did, I think. In my opinion it is OK if even a bright high school student comes to the conclusion that they have something to do with the geometry of vectors and quantum mechanics, but for a proper understanding he or she needs more background. That is just the way it is, and no mention of WP:Technical can change that. Anyway I am tired of fighting this. It is not that I don't want to cooperate, I just cannot do it when every time I make an edit it is reverted within minutes or "improved" before I have time to get to a new round of editing. I have tried giving Slawomir input which he did try to incorporate at some point but only after a very long and frustrating process for all of us and with a result that nobody was pleased with. I have work, wife and kids and they all need attention. RogierBrussee (talk) 10:43, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

The bottom line here is that you seem to be of the opinion that your revision of the lead and introduction to the article is better than the current one. The community already responded quite positively to the initial edits aimed at making the lead accessible to a wider audience. The present version is the product of many revisions in response to comments on the talk page. Notwithstanding your current frustration, I think the current revision is superior than any that has preceded it, in large part due to your own efforts. But it is there for all to see, and I think others should be allowed to judge.
"For a proper understanding, one needs more background" — yes, but so what? That does not mean we shouldn't try to explain things as best as we can to those that don't have this background. Surely that is one of the most important functions of an encyclopedia. Also, for a sufficient definition of "proper", this is surely an unreasonable attainment to expect of any reader of an encyclopedia article about spinors. Entire books are written about spinors. And even Sir Michael Atiyah, as you have helpfully pointed out, admits to not understanding them "properly". Sławomir Biały (talk) 11:57, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Suren Arakelov[edit]

Can anyone point to a reliable source for his biographical details? In particular, is there any support for the assertion that he is of Armenian descent? The article currently has no references that give anything about him personally, as opposed to Arakelov theory, and if nothing emerges then the article may have to be deleted on BLP and general notability grounds. Deltahedron (talk) 15:28, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Interesting case. This compilation of information about people whose names are embedded in Math Subject Classifcation has a good bit of information about him distributed through the document. It was compiled by Dave Rusin. It looks to have good information, but isn't a peer-reviewed document. --Mark viking (talk) 18:37, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
I saw that too, it's linked from the Russian-language version. I can't see that being a reliable source: it's effectively a personal blog quoting personal emails. I'm certainly not going to include assertions of mental illness based on that. Deltahedron (talk) 18:54, 28 September 2014 (UTC)