Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics/Archive 69

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Rychlik (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log), no doubt an otherwise well-intentioned editor, does appear to be adding material that is unduly self-promotional. He has already been warned of a potential COI, but perhaps further action is needed? Specifically of concern are the articles Marek Rychlik, Rychlik's theorem, and Chordal problem, all of which appear to assign undue significance to the editor's own research. I thought I should post here to solicit input on the best way to handle this constellation of articles. One possibility that seems reasonable to me is to delete Marek Rychlik and Rychlik's theorem, possibly merging some content from Rychlik's theorem to Chordal problem. Sławomir Biały (talk) 14:47, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Most recent contribs include homoclinic connection, which has long been needed, and now appears to be a workable start. I'd recommend letting things slide for a while, and getting him comfortable with editing WP in general, rather than scaring him off with contentiousness. I suspect that many start by editing WP pages close to their heart, before showing broadened interests. Even I resisted but eventually succumbed to the urge to mention my own thesis work in an article somewhere :-) linas (talk) 05:36, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
One particular issue that strikes me is the need to establish that Rychlik's solution to the equichordal point problem is actually known as Rychlik's theorem. Almost all of the independent references currently in that article pre-date Rychlik's solution and so cannot be a source for that name. I have asked for a reliable source at Talk:Rychlik's theorem, but that request has so far gone unheeded. Gandalf61 (talk) 11:39, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
... and Ushiki's theorem, started by the same editor, has the same problem. Gandalf61 (talk) 13:16, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Situation does look manageable. Would anyone inclined to intervene please note the key distinction: "potential COI" may be a hypothesis or it may be something that can be confirmed. But WP:COI relates fundamentally only to putting the encyclopedia's interests second, rather than first. Something like the discussion of whether equichordal point problem is a better title can actually be carried out compatibly with AGF. Charles Matthews (talk) 13:26, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Indeed, and I hope I didn't seem alarmist. My chief concerns are that the autobiography is unsuitable (the subject is of borderline notability, and autobiographies are a COI as a rule) and the article about "Rychlik's theorem" (which is also a clear COI, although our standards on theorems are generally fairly relaxed). The other edits seem to be beneficial on the whole. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:23, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

I am not convinced that redirecting Marek Rychlik to Rychlik's theorem was a good solution. We do have notability guidelines, and in this regard Marek Rychlik clearly fulfilled the criteria. Sure, the article was poor, but if anything I'd expected Rychlik's theorem to be renamed to equichordal point problem. Nageh (talk) 20:05, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I'm not at all convinced that Marek Rychlik passes the notability guideline. He has one or two highly cited papers, but an otherwise fairly unremarkable career. Solving the equichordal point problem seems to be something that he himself is very excited about, but it does not seem to have generated any buzz in the wider mathematical world, so I don't think this rises to the required level of notability. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but at any rate people should not be writing articles about themselves to begin with, so as a short-term solution, a redirect seems fine. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:37, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Now on AfD. Sławomir Biały (talk) 16:38, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
AfD is fine with me. If your concern is insufficient notability, I do have to repeat the point that we have guidelines for when an academic is notable, and he clearly fulfills them. Regarding your disregard of his solution on the equichordal point problem, I want to point out this source and its introduction as a hint for notability. Anyway, I put my comments on the AfD page. Nageh (talk) 18:13, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, I am certainly aware of the notability guidelines, and I see no evidence that he passes them. The book you cite mentions the subject, but only briefly in passing. And, at any rate, there are still the demands of WP:V, that sources must address the subject of the article in a nontrivial manner. If he truly is notable only for one thing, then WP:1E applies, and a redirect to Equichordal point problem is fully justified. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:43, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

The other problem is that equichordal point problem is now a redirect to Rychlik's theorem. As I pointed out previously, I can find only a single source on Google that refers to this problem by "Rychlik's theorem". If anything, Rychlik's theorem should be redirected to the equichordal point problem article. Nageh (talk) 12:38, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, it's just silly. The Rychlik's theorem page says that it solves the equichordal point problem, but then that link redirects to the page you're on. Meaning you don't know what the equichordal point problem is, and you don't know the motivation for Rychlik's theorem. It's a total COI for Rychlik to write articles about his own work. Fly by Night (talk) 14:15, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I just found a paper on ZBMATH database (Wojtkowski, M.P., Two applications of Jacobi fields to the billiard ball problem, J. Differ. Geom. 40, No.1, 155-164 (1994)) which mentions Bialy's theorem and also Rychlik's theorem in the abstract. Now, two major questions arise: 1) is the user Sławomir Biały related to Rychlik in any way, if yes, did the relationship induce this discussion? 2) Independent of the first question, is one mentioning by another polish mathematician a proof for notability? I highly doubt that. DrPhosphorus (talk) 19:39, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

I have requested a renaming of Rychlik's theorem to equichordal point problem, followed by deletion of the article name Rychlik's theorem. Discussion here. Cheers, and a happy new year! Nageh (talk) 10:32, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Input requested on recent breakage of Template:Su

I'd like to solicit input on the recent breakage of Template:Su in the Firefox 2.0 compatible browsers (there is a thread at Template talk:Su). I've just been told off that the ~20,000 current users of this line of browsers is not enough market share to consider fixing the template. The template is totally broken for users of this line of browsers (see the image on that discussion page for details), and a solution is very desirable. Potentially the template should be retired from use in favor of using <math> instead. Sławomir Biały (talk) 16:07, 1 January 2011 (UTC):

Does putting the whole thing (including the previous symbol) inside "nowrap" fix the problem? — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:30, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
No, the span actually has an embedded <br /> in it, and it breaks in Firefox 2.0 because it does not understand display:inline-block;. It used to work throuhg mozilla-specific CSS, which went deprecated in Firefox 3.0, but that caused problems for newer browsers (including Firefox 3.x), so the template was overhauled to use generic CSS. Firefox 2.0 is extinct; with making up only 0.43% of pageviews, we felt it is not worth fixing. EdokterTalk 17:08, 1 January 2011 (UTC)
I think the real question here is not "can we fix it?", but "should we fix it for 0.43% of users, if that means poorer experience for the rest?" in other words "backwards compatibility at what cost?".     — SkyLined (talk) 11:59, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
In this case, it seems to be an issue of fixing it for the ~5% who use Internet Explorer 6 at the cost of breaking it for the ~0.4% who use Firefox 2. If that's accurate, I think that going with the larger number of readers is the right choice. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:26, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
I suppose it depends on whether it is still a priority for Wikipedia to remain usable for people running older systems. I know that in some areas (e.g., accessibility) obviously the need to be accessible to as wide a user base as possible is a major consideration. However, perhaps in other areas (e.g., the perennial debate about unicode) it is less of an issue. So, depending on how one prioritizes the matter, there are two ways forward: either accept that an appreciable number of users are going to be unable to read some of our articles, or use something else (e.g., <math>) instead of the template. Sławomir Biały (talk) 13:36, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
One problem with <math> is that it offers no accessibility features and you can't copy+paste it either; you would lock users with disabilities out, who cannot address their problem, in favor of users with insecure, outdated browsers, who are a liability to the net as a whole and the main reason why we have so many botnets. IMHO the later should be banned outright, but let's not get to that discussion :D. There are probably a number of ways to solve this specific issue in the tempalte, each with different drawbacks. This is why I think we should focus on the generic question of what level of backwards compatibility should we provide and at what cost to useful features.     — SkyLined (talk) 16:36, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
One can tell Wikipedia to format <math> as plain text, which will be accessible to every browser and works with screen readers. Math images cannot be copied and pasted but they work for everyone who can read images, again on every browser. Also the Su template loses the semantic information that a formula is mathematics, while the <math> tags will keep working (and improve appearance) when we eventually move to a better math system like mathjax or mathml. So there are several advantages to using <math> for formulas in a mathematical context. The majority of uses of Su seem to be for chemical symbols; only about 60 math articles use the template. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:50, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
Side comment: I agree that mathjax is better, but I think it is likely to be broken on a much larger number of browsers. As I recall, mathjax seems to demand the latest version of everything, and doesn't seem to work on some of the more exotic browsers like Konqueror. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:06, 4 January 2011 (UTC)


Hi, I was hoping to get some expert help. Operator (disambiguation) currently has over 100 incoming links, and we're having a tough time figuring out how to fix them. I'm suspicious that the disambig is missing a mathematics article or two. Could someone take a look at the mathematics articles in this list and give their opinion? Thanks, --JaGatalk 19:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

The word "operator", even when restricted to mathematics, has several meanings depending on context. Most of these meanings should be covered in Operator (mathematics) but I'm thinking that article should be merged with the main dab article; it's not in a very good state as it is. Meanwhile, the links to "operator" in math articles should be changed to link to an article with the specific meaning. I've done one or two but but it's not an easy task since it's often difficult to tell what specific meaning (if any) the author of an article had in mind.--RDBury (talk) 10:34, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I did exactly the opposite about a month ago. The problem was that there was no article on operators on vector spaces, and the article operator (mathematics) (then just called operator) was horrible, mainly because its main contributors were programmers (even though there was already operator (programming) at the time) and non-specialists only familiar with arithmetic operations. You can look at the discussion page to get a feeling of how inadequate they were. That's why I think there must be a separate article on operators on vector spaces if only to protect it from unintentional vandalism, maybe under different title. — Kallikanzaridtalk 11:55, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Part of the problem here is confusion between what programmers call "operators" and mathematicians call "operations" (e.g. the arithmetic operations "+", "-" etc.). So that some of the uses of the term "operator" which now link to operator, actually are referring to, and ought to link instead to, operation (mathematics). Paul August 12:26, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm with you here, maybe we need to sketch a network of articles that will satisfy the community and lessen the confusion. — Kallikanzaridtalk 13:50, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

New Articles Are Being Created All The Time

Why does this project not use a project banner to identify articles that are within its purview? I put the banner on a somewhat new article's talk page while I was putting a value in |listas= and when I previewed the page I got the message that all the mathematics articles are in a List.

Lists have to be maintained manually. Categories populate themselves. The article I was attempting to tag is not on your list even though it has been around since October, 2010.

I am not doing drive-by tagging. I am working strictly by hand because of the low level of the quality of the sort values. I merely wanted call your attention to an article you seem to have ignored.

Happy editing! JimCubb (talk) 01:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Which article are you looking at? The list is updated by a bot, not by hand, and we can investigate why the bot didn't find the article.
The reason we have not tagged every math article is that (1) it wouldn't be any more accurate than our list, anyway and (2) a bot cannot assess the quality or priority of an article, and the only point of our article tags is to carry this data. However, maybe the bot's list of categories needs to be tweaked. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:35, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

There is a project banner on the talk pages of most math articles, I think.

Perhaps Movable singularity is what he's talking about. Michael Hardy (talk) 02:05, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

That article is on the list and has been around for years, though. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:10, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Károly Bezdek is the right age (and the talk page was edited by JimCubb recently). It's on the list too, though. Algebraist 02:13, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Bezdek is the one I meant. I did not see him on the list and I apologize for missing him. The talk page of his article gives no indication that this project knows the article exists. JimCubb (talk) 02:21, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

It's on the list of mathematicians, which is separate from list of mathematics articles. Both are maintained by a bot using the article categories. If we tried to maintain the article talk page tags by hand, it wouldn't be any more accurate than the bot already is (how would we find the untagged articles, apart from categories?). — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:26, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

List of topics named after Karl Weierstrass

I've created a List of topics named after Karl Weierstrass.


  • Link to it from appropriate other articles. So far there's only a link from Karl Weierstrass.
  • Create all plausible redirects you can think of (I'll do the one with the eszett).
  • Expand it is appropriate.
  • Annotate it. After a link, one might put a comma followed by "a function used for turning elephants inside-out" (or whatever.........).
  • Add appropriate category tags (there's just one right now; maybe that's all it needs?).
  • Other appropriate editing as needed/desired.

So get busy and have fun with it. Michael Hardy (talk) 01:55, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Movable singularity

Movable singularity has been prodded.

Do what you can with it. Michael Hardy (talk) 02:05, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Someone's added a reference and de-prodded it. Quite possibly it still needs work. Michael Hardy (talk) 02:06, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
See three sections up. Algebraist 02:07, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Proposed deletion of Movable singularity

Ambox warning yellow.svg

The article Movable singularity has been proposed for deletion because of the following concern:

A search for references found several references for the phrase, but multiple phrasing differences between sources and this article make impossible to Validate the accuracy of the article content

While all contributions to Wikipedia are appreciated, content or articles may be deleted for any of several reasons.

You may prevent the proposed deletion by removing the {{proposed deletion/dated}} notice, but please explain why in your edit summary or on the article's talk page.

Please consider improving the article to address the issues raised. Removing {{proposed deletion/dated}} will stop the proposed deletion process, but other deletion processes exist. The speedy deletion process can result in deletion without discussion, and articles for deletion allows discussion to reach consensus for deletion. JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 17:50, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

I've removed the "prod" tag, as this is certainly a notable topic. Paul August 18:10, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
The false positive is a bit worrying. The above template message suggests that there is some centralized place where a bunch of articles are being prodded en masse. This seems problematic. Also Jitse's bot seems to be out of commission at the moment, so we likely will have no idea if this affects other mathematics articles. Sławomir Biały (talk) 18:22, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I will see what I can do about making a list of any math articles with prod tags. I need to get with Jitse to see if we can move his bot to the toolserver where others can help keep it running. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:40, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
At the moment there are three math articles with prod tags: Proof Involving the multiplication of natural_numbers, Srđan Ognjanović and Q-class decomposition. — Carl (CBM · talk)
These are already on Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics/Current activity and it appears the bot was working as of the 2nd. One of the articles is also listed on the article alerts page, but 1 out of 3 isn't a very high coverage rate.--RDBury (talk) 22:03, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I saw this discussion just after I made my addition to the page. You are missing the point of the prod tag on the article. There are no references on the article. The subject of the article may be notable but there is no justification of that in the article other than what appears to be original research. I have reinstated the tag.
There has been a history of empty threats on WP for some time. The no references tag has been in place, and ignored by the project, for years. A group of editors have noticed this problem and are trying to clean up the mess. JimCubb (talk) 01:28, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Do not reinstate prod tags: it is a direct violation of policy. Algebraist 01:32, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
An "unreferenced" tag is not a "threat" - it's just a maintenance message, like "uncategorized" or "wikify". There's no deadline to handle these tags. If you wish to see more articles with references, the best thing to do is to add references. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:41, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Also, WP:BEFORE #9 has good advice: look for references before nominating an article for deletion based on a claim that the topic isn't notable. In this case, just a google books search would have shown that the topic can be found in many textbooks. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:47, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I heartily agree with Carl. A lack of references has not suddenly become a criterion for deletion. It certainly isn't the sort of thing that WP:PROD is supposed to be used for, which is for uncontroversial deletions. If, as indeed you say, "a group of editors" has banded together to start deleting unreferenced articles willy-nilly using prod, then someone needs to put a stop to it. Sławomir Biały (talk) 01:56, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I see from their edit histories that Jeepday and JimCubb have been prodding any article that they cannot find references for. I have started a discussion about this at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Unreferenced articles#Appropriateness of PRODding articles. Ozob (talk) 11:57, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I found this discussion from the WikiProject Unreferenced articles thread. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that it's my understanding Jeepday is working through the articles which have been unreferenced since 2006, not just any article tagged as unreferenced. Anyway, I'm glad the false positive was caught, and that the article is now sourced. PhilKnight (talk) 15:48, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I am also glad that the I was wrong about the article, I wish I was wrong as spectacularly as this more often. The project goal is to find and add references to article that have been tagged as needing them the longest. The simple fact that articles are in the oldest Category:Articles needing additional references means that most are without anyone who cares to improve them, math articles are lucky to have a solid group like this. When a search for references does not find support for the articles content, every Wikipedian has an obligation to remove content that does not meet the expectations of Wikipedia. Now to the prod being discussed, more then just finding and adding a reference to an article, it is my basic expectation that the references should support the actual content of the article as written, and anything unsupportable should be removed. I looked and found multiple references, but was not able with validate the content to the reference enough to make me feel comfortable that the references supported the content. Unfortunately not every article can meet Wikipedia criteria even those written by the most trusted editors (see Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Manar Group). The best anyone can do, is what seems like in best keeping with the goals of Wikipedia to maintain a high standard of content. I make every reasonable effort to contact anyone who might be able to show my prod is incorrect, (see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Songs were I am mostly ignored) to the places I posted messages after this prod [1] [2] [3] [4]. If I can be of any help in referencing Math articles that are most in need of help let me know. JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 16:57, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Your inability to find a reference which you were able to understand to support all of the article's content is not a valid reason for deleting an article, please see WP:DEL. If an article is about a notable topic, something your research must surely have confirmed, then the article should be improved not deleted. Paul August 21:31, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Paul, actually it is "Articles for which thorough attempts to find reliable sources to verify them have failed", Which I believe you have quoted in part at least once. No where in Wikipedia (that I am aware) does it say that when a subject is notable the content of articles in not subject to WP:V, which requires that "readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source,", which I was not able to do. If you issue is with my judgment, or with Wikipedia policy this is not the venue to discuss it. I invite you to bring your concerns to my talk page or any appropriate venue. Jeepday (talk) 22:51, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
A google book search for "movable singularities" finds many textbook sources that look good. So my feeling is that your failure to find good sources cannot have constituted a "thorough attempt", because a thorough attempt would have easily succeeded in this case. Therefore, you did not have a valid reason for deleting this article. It is unsurprising that an editor who does not specialize in mathematics would not have the expertise to actually integrate the sources into the text, but that is different from what WP:DEL asks. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:12, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:16, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── WP:OWN Jeepday (talk) 01:00, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Don't be ridiculous.TimothyRias (talk) 06:48, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it is by no means true that mathematics here is a "walled garden", which would be a criticism worth answering. You know where we are, and this project is reasonably effective at dealing with queries about referencing. So please drop us a line in such cases. Charles Matthews (talk) 06:52, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Möbius resistor

Should one of the math categories be added to the article titled Möbius resistor? Which one(s)?

(BTW, Oleg's mathbot has stopped adding new items every day to the list of mathematics articles. Jitse's bot still seems to be working, so it's Oleg's bot's fault we're not seeing anything new on the current activities page.) Michael Hardy (talk) 07:51, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

No, at best this is an application of Möbius strip to electrical engineering. It is not mathematics per se, unless you consider balancing your check book to be mathematics. JRSpriggs (talk) 12:45, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Hoax warning

IPs (talk · contribs) and (talk · contribs) have been adding material which appears to me to be hoaxes, using actual (but absurd) papers by Patrick St-Amant as references. JRSpriggs (talk) 11:55, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't think this is a hoax; it seems more likely to be a conflict of interest. The linked papers seem real, and one of them claims to have been published. However, I've removed the material from fundamental theorem of arithmetic and prime number because it doesn't appear to be notable, i.e., there are no reliable secondary sources yet. (I suppose that's a backhanded way of saying I don't think it's interesting; but it's also true.) I kept the reference at tetration because it's mostly about notation. I have no insight on the addition to continuum hypothesis, and I don't know what else might have been added. Ozob (talk) 12:22, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Not sure about the hoax angle, but it could be routine WP:COI. This needs a wider base of sourcing before being used in an article.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 11:32, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
See Talk:Continuum hypothesis#No inverse powerset for my debunking of one of Patrick St-Amant's papers. JRSpriggs (talk) 05:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
The paper referred to in hyperoperation has such absurdities as "First, we devise a way to write the parentheses of a formula by using a superscript notation on the operations." (And even then, there doesn't seem to be a complete definition of his hierarchy of hyperoperations.) Even if published in a peer-reviewed journal, we would need to find someone who finds it notable and relevant. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:58, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

International Journal of Algebra

Has anyone heard of this impressively named publication? I can't find any article about it in WP, nor about its publisher, Hikari Ltd.

I ask mainly because a certain Pierre St Anant seems to have published in it, and the work is referenced in the hyperoperation article. A couple of Canadian IPs have been adding references to St Anant's ideas (largely sourced to arXiv publications) to various articles, including continuum hypothesis and fundamental theorem of arithmetic. My strong suspicion is that these are not appropriate for inclusion, but I have not read them carefully enough to be sure. --Trovatore (talk) 02:40, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Oh, sorry, it's Patrick St-Amant, not Pierre St Anant. I see that JR has opened a related discussion above. --Trovatore (talk) 02:46, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

So no one's heard of the journal, then? --Trovatore (talk) 20:05, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

See I suppose it could all be a hoax but it would make a rather elaborate one :) Tkuvho (talk) 20:17, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Oh no, I'm sure it exists. I found the online presence as well. What I want to know is whether anyone in the field actually knows it, whether it has a reputation, good or bad. --Trovatore (talk) 21:00, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
It's indexed in MathSciNet. So in that sense the field as a whole knows about it, at least. —David Eppstein (talk) 21:11, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, again, knows that it exists. Come on. Surely there are some algebraists reading this. What's the journal's rep? --Trovatore (talk) 22:29, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I find St Amant's ideas intriguing. Two different ways of formalizing a Grothendieck completion of set theory by adding "negative ranks" lead to opposite consequences as far as the status of the continuum hypothesis is concerned. This is sufficient reason to treat the contributor respectfully and avoid "hoax" rhetoric. Tkuvho (talk) 12:21, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
As far as the International Journal of Algebra goes; I've reviewed one paper for MathSciNet that was published there. It was okay, but nothing spectacular. I've never heard anything bad, nor anything good for that matter, about that journal. This may not say much, but looking at the Mathematical Citation Quotient in MathSciNet (this is the number of times articles in the journal were cited by articles indexed in MathSciNet, divided by the number of items published by the journal that are indexed in MathSciNet), the International Journal of Algebra has an MCQ of 0.04 (161 items published between the end of 2007 and the end of 2008, cited 6 times). For comparison, here is a random sampling of other journals (indexed going back to 2004): the Bulletin of the Iranian Mathematical Society has 0.15; the Bulletin of the Australian Mathematical Society has an MCQ of 0.32; Archiv der Mathematik is at 0.42; Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society has 0.68; Communications in Algebra 0.36; Journal of Algebra is 0.58; Mathematical Sciences Research Journal is at 0.07. If you restrict, say, the Bulletin of the Iranian Mathematical Society to just 2007 (no items indexed for 2008), the MCQ is 0.15. Magidin (talk) 18:51, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Prod notification

I can see that this group is motivated, and I would like to offer a couple of suggestions that may decrease the loss of articles to prod, no mater how you feel about them, you need take them into account.

  1. Not all math related articles are have templates on the talk page that will direct a Wikipedian to Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics, an example is Movable singularity, as a group you may want work towards putting your template on talk pages of math related articles, to make it easier for someone to inform you of a prod. (A more welcomeing response to receiving a notification, might be a good thing as well)
  2. While WP:AfD usually involves a group notification, there is no requirement nor function to ensure notification for {{PROD}}. There is a suggestion to notify author/project, but no requirement to do so. As group you may want to address those articles that are most at risk of a prod, unreferenced articles that have been tagged as needing references for prolonged periods. This usually involves comparing articles in categories under your knowledge base, to articles in Category:Articles lacking sources and/or Category:Unreferenced BLPs. There is no existing tool that simplifies this search, if you create one please drop a note at WP:URA so we can spread the word.

Cheers JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 12:00, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

What's that old saying: I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately! – General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:20, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I guess the smart and lazy solution is to check Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics/Current activity daily where a stupid but industrious bot lists all the prodded articles in mathematics category. --Salix (talk): 15:50, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
That is pretty cool tool, I have not seen any other projects that are using it. Can you get it to sort by date of tag so that those article that have been tagged as unreferenced longest can get attention first? JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 16:06, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
A few days ago I mistakenly thought Jitse's bot had gone down again (it seems to do that every year or two.....) but actually it's mathbot that has not been working since January 2nd. That's why the current activities page hasn't been notifying us of any new articles. Michael Hardy (talk) 17:58, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
JeepdaySock: I seem to remember that WP:Philosophy was setting up something similar based on our source code. CRGreathouse (t | c) 18:22, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
It is a great tool, Seem to require some technical skills to convert for each project. I am going to post in on the WP:URA talk page and see if I can get someone to make the solution easy workable for other project with less technically skilled help. JeepdaySock (AKA, Jeepday) 11:54, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Weierstrass substitution

I've created a new article called Weierstrass substitution.

Tasks ahead:

  • Add references. (It has none yet. I'll soon add some.[Later note: There are now two. Maybe more are needed.] Others will know of some references that I don't know of, and they should add those.)
  • Add more categories if appropriate. Is there an algebraic geometry connection?
  • Expand the article. Maybe something on the geometry of the thing. Maybe I'll add a word or to on that later.[Later note: I've added a little bit about geometry.]
  • Carefully check details of the examples.
  • Other articles should link to it. Several already do. Probably more should.
  • etc.....

So get busy. Have fun. Michael Hardy (talk) 18:48, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Help w/ new article Highest Weight Category

I just patrolled a new article Highest Weight Category and verified all that I could. I've confirmed the reference and updated it with a link to an online version, but this is far beyond my expertise. Could somebody familiar with representation theory review the article and confirm it is valid? Thanks. -      Hydroxonium (talk) 22:48, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

I did a few copy-edits and moved it to highest-weight category. As it stands, the article ends abruptly with an unfinished sentence. Michael Hardy (talk) 00:03, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you kindly. The article is way over my head, but it did seem sort of like an unfinished thought. The original creator had only this one edit, but was familiar enough with Wikipedia and markup language to create the article. So I'm not sure what to think about it. I was mostly concerned about it being a useful/valid article. Thanks again. -      Hydroxonium (talk) 01:51, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I'll look into the literature and try to at least finish what's written, it appears that not only is the second axiom unfinished, but there is also a third, and a few other hypotheses. Certainly, Crelle's journal is a respected journal; additionally, Renner's book Linear algebraic monoids refers to the cited paper as "seminal" and Humphreys' book Representations of Semisimple Lie Algebras in the BGG Category O says the setup is "especially influential", so I think this article is legit. RobHar (talk) 02:48, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
WOW! Thanks very much, RobHar. I'm blown away. I just have to say thanks very much to everybody. Wikipedia is really lucky to have such educated and intelligent people helping. I really appreciate everybody's efforts and thank you all. -      Hydroxonium (talk) 17:28, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Your welcome (and thanks)! RobHar (talk) 19:19, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

The article is still an orphan: no other articles link to it. Michael Hardy (talk) 18:13, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, that's going to be harder to fix. I've added it as a "see also" in Weight (representation theory), but I don't know if there are any other current wiki articles that could link to it. It looks like a prototypical example of a highest weight category is the category of right A-modules where A is a "quasi-hereditary algebra" over the field k. It appears to also be related to Kazhdan–Lusztig theory and Bernstein–Gelfand–Gelfand's category O. But none of these are currently covered on wikipedia (AFAIK). (Also, thanks for the clean up on the article, I don't think I ever noticed that lower-case Greek should be italicized, probably 'cause they look so weird in html to begin with). RobHar (talk) 19:19, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Articles names: singular or plural?

I'm not a mathematician, although I have a science background. I sometimes do proof-reading of some scientific Wikipedia articles, but mainly from the perspectives of English and readability rather than for technical content.

Various articles have brought me to a few pages such as "Bred vectors" and "Lyapunov vectors". It seems slightly strange that their titles use the plural form "vectors" rather than the singular "vector". By contrast, the title of (for instance) "Eigenvector", being in the singular form, seems much more natural.

Does the Mathematics wikiproject have a preferred convention on plural vs. singular in such titles? Shouldn't the title usually be singular unless there is good over-riding reason to use the plural?

(In all the above, my use of the word "singular" is in the English language "opposite of plural" sense, rather than any mathematical sense "singular vectors" sense!)

Would there be any objection to renaming, in particular, "Bred vectors" to "Bred vector" and "Lyapunov vectors" to "Lyapunov vector"?

Feline Hymnic (talk) 01:01, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia generally—not just the mathematics project—has a convention that titles are to be singular except when there is some special reason to use a plural. One such reason is nouns that are used only in the plural. Another is when the topic is a set of things, identified by a plural whose singular would refer to a member of the set—for example The Beatles or Maxwell's equations. Some polynomial sequences have articles that fit the latter description, e.g. Hermite polynomials. See Wikipedia:Article titles. There is a section where it says:
Use the singular form: Article titles are generally singular in form, e.g. Horse, not Horses. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects (e.g. Arabic numerals or Bantu languages).
Michael Hardy (talk) 03:44, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
PS: I've just moved those two articles and fixed the links to them from within the article space. Michael Hardy (talk) 03:55, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Eigenvector is actually a redirect to eigenvalues and eigenvectors. There was a recent discussion over the article's name here, which resulted in a renaming from singular to plural form in this case. Gandalf61 (talk) 06:56, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Great. Many thanks. (As I typed my request, I was trying to think of an example from Maths where the plural would be the best; I was sure there would be some but they eluded me. So thanks, too, for jogging my mind with "Maxwell's equations".) Feline Hymnic (talk) 09:38, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

There are a few cases where it's better to use a plural since the the subject is about a relationship between two or more objects. For example we have Orthogonal polynomials since "Orthogonal polynomial" doesn't make sense.--RDBury (talk) 23:39, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

How many digits to show in irrational number articles?

The articles linked to in {{irrational numbers}} differ in the number of decimal places they show in the lead. Euler–Mascheroni constant shows 50 digit after the decimal point, Apéry's constant shows 45, Square root of 2 shows 65, Square root of 3 and Square root of 5 show 60 each, Golden ratio shows 10, Plastic number shows 17, etc. Should they be made consistent? I'd propose a not-too-large number of digits, e.g. 30. What do you guys think? --A. di M. (talk) 13:45, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I'd say about 40 digits should be generally OK. However, some local considerations may apply. For example, the decimal expansion in the Plastic number article is squeezed between a fairly long radical expression on the left, and the bloody infobox on the right, so there is not enough room for additional digits. —Emil J. 14:14, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I would suggest 3 (three) digits, with a link to more precise data. Tkuvho (talk) 14:20, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
This is an example of totally unnecessary and inappropriate standardization, as the difference between the proposed figures of 3 and 40 illustrates. How many decimal digits of a rational number would you list? Each is recurring, so why not all of them until the first repetition? Unhelpful in most cases, and the ratio provides an explicit formula. How about the golden ratio? Well, it has a dead simple continued fraction expansion. What about algebraic numbers? Should we list them all to the same precision as the most famous transcendental numbers, such as pi? I don't think so, and I suspect the best sources have a good sense how many digits is helpful.
Should they be made consistent? Short answer: No. Geometry guy 22:05, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Maybe not a standard but guidelines may be useful. Probably a minimum of 8 or 10 would be good since that's what is shown on a typical calculator. Obviously there are some values that aren't known to that many digits. There is little value in doing 65 so I'd say that's excessive and krufty. How about we say don't include any more than can be found in Abramowitz and Stegun?--RDBury (talk) 01:10, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Right, I don't see any need to enforce consistency for its own sake, but it wouldn't hurt to record the conclusions that have been reached in other similar cases and their reasons, rather than arguing from scratch every time. Every now and then someone goes to the pi article and dumps in 50,000 digits or so and is quickly reverted — clearly we don't want that anywhere. On the other hand, three seems sort of stingy, unless that's all that are known. I think around ten as a general rule. In cases where the decimal expansion itself has been the focus of lots of attention (really, I think that's only pi, although e might just sneak in), fifty would be OK. --Trovatore (talk) 02:09, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
For such numbers, we can have a section called "Decimal expansion" or something giving a hundred digits or so after the point, as IIRC pi does or used to do; I still think that giving more than about 30 digits in the lead, which is supposed to be a summary of the most important points of the article. --A. di M. (talk) 20:25, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
@ Geometry guy: Right now, the numbers of digits appear to be chosen randomly, rather than according to any criterion at all, so, whether or not standardization would be "totally unnecessary and inappropriate", the status quo isn't necessary or appropriate either IMO. --A. di M. (talk) 20:25, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
@ Emil J.: I've tweaked the lead of Plastic number so that now it could accommodate more digits (and IMO looks better even with 17 digits). --A. di M. (talk) 20:25, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

first order logic, second order logic,...

There is some confusion at these logic pages concerning the meaning of the term "first-order logic". There is a narrow sense of the term and a larger sense of the term. Thus, the page second-order logic adheres to the narrow sense, so that we find that "First-order logic uses only variables that range over individuals (elements of the domain of discourse); second-order logic has these variables as well as additional variables that range over sets of individuals." Meanwhile, the page first-order logic currently works with the larger sense, and moreover there is a bit of a back-and-forth going on, to which I have unfortunately contributed before realizing what the problem was. Tkuvho (talk) 12:36, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Could you briefly summarize here what you see as the two senses of 'first-order logic' -- I'm not seeing it from the articles you reference, but that was after an admittedly casual scan. Thanks. BrideOfKripkenstein (talk) 16:52, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I summarized it at Talk:First-order_logic. Tkuvho (talk) 17:24, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

New article Frenet-Serret frame

The redirect Frenet-Serret frameFrenet-Serret formulas was recently replaced with a new article that consists of content that is crudely copy-pasted from the articles Frenet-Serret formulas and differential geometry of curves. As far as I can tell, apart from the brief lead, no new content was added in the process (and all of the content still remains at Frenet-Serret formulas and differential geometry of curves). Should we have this separate article or should this content forking be reverted? It seems to me that the already existing article Frenet-Serret formulas is intended to cover both the formulas and the frame. Sławomir Biały (talk) 14:16, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Comment: It looks like even the lead was copied from differential geometry of curves. Also the text of Frenet-Serret frame often doesn't make any sense, because it is a mish-mash from two different articles. Sławomir Biały (talk) 14:16, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Even if I didn't know the article was recently split I'd suggest a merge. To be fair, it appears from the edit comments that the author was trying to create a merge of differential geometry of curves and Frenet-Serret formulas into a new article, but has only created a third article instead. So maybe the real question is whether there should be a single article instead of those two. My feeling is that there is a lot of material in the second article that's too specific to be included in the first, so that merge isn't a good idea.--RDBury (talk) 17:47, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Move "operator" to "operator (mathematics)"?

If you have an opinion, please comment here: Talk:Operator#Requested move. Paul August 21:14, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

List of mathematics journals

Today, someone removed a large number of items from List of scientific journals in mathematics. I undid that edit. More eyes on the article and opinions on the talk page would be nice. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:49, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

I also made a proposal there to create redirects from the titles of less-notable mathematics journals to that page. This will help with redlinks other places, too, for example there are two different articles that currently have redlinks to Topology and its Applications. We can discuss it on the list's talk page. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:19, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


Mathbot doesn't seem to have added any new mathematics articles since January 2. I assume that the articles showing up lately in the current activity have been added manually somehow. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:01, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

I have just sent this email to :
Mathematicians throughout the world have been
waiting patiently since January 2nd for you to
restore Oleg Alexandrov's access to his account
so that mathbot can continue its work.
Wikipedia's mathematics WikiProject is the most
successful, and possibly the most active, of all
WikiProjects, but there is this bottleneck.
Perhaps not the best way to do things, but that's
how it is for now.
The Project's "current activities" page has failed
to do its daily updates listing new articles since
January 2nd (except in cases where articles were
manually added to the list of mathematics articles).
I'll post a copy of this email to the project's
discussion page.
Prof. Michael Hardy
mjhardy (at)
(In case someone here doesn't know, new articles are (normally) listed daily at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Current_activity.) Michael Hardy (talk) 19:24, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
For those of us who aren't in the know, what's the background story?—Emil J. 19:47, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
In particular, I still have toolserver access, and access to the code that I arranged with Oleg in 2010. I didn't realize that this was a problem, and I might be able to fix things. But I don't know what's going on myself. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:42, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
user:mathbot updates the List of mathematics articles daily. Then user:Jitse's_bot updates the Current activity page every day, including a list of new mathematics articles that have been added to that list. But mathbot stopped functioning on January 2nd. Its creator, Oleg Alexandrov can fix it if he can get access to the mathbot account. For some reason he can't do that, and has been kept waiting for a while. Michael Hardy (talk) 20:43, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I sent Oleg an email. If someone can tell me what needs to be done on toolserver, I should be able to do it. Actually, I am going to try running mathbot by hand right now, and see what happens. Crossed fingers.
The toolserver admins are, in my long experience with them, actually very professional. The scale of the toolserver and the strict policies of Wikimedia Deutschland who sponsor it slow down the account acceptance process, but they have done their best to handle it. Again, I can get with Oleg and see if I can help navigate the process more smoothly. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:56, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I completely forgot that CBM had access to the bot. I had expected the toolserver folks to quickly restore my toolsever access but they are very slow. (The background story here is that I reinstalled by laptop OS, and I lost the ssh key with which to connect to the toolserver.) Oleg Alexandrov (talk) 21:04, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

I was able to run Mathbot myself, and it seems to have worked fine. For those who don't know, there is a "multi-maintainer project" named wpmath on the toolserver, which has the mathbot code. I am hoping to eventually get Jitse's bot there as well. The goal of this is to put us in a position that someone else can take over the code smoothly if the current maintainers leave. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:47, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

You ran it, but I don't see any more new articles on the current activities page. What will it take to get all the articles created in 2011 listed there? We need that. Michael Hardy (talk) 22:40, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I assume they'll show up within a day once the other bot (Jitse's bot) runs. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:03, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Sorry....I'd momentarily forgotten about that. Michael Hardy (talk) 23:33, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

New articles

It seems that maybe some people involved in this project do not regularly look at Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics/Current activity and see the daily update on new articles. Because of the recent bot problems we have ten days of new articles simultaneously. Here are those new articles:

Action axiom, Amitsur–Levitzki theorem, Auslander algebra, Auslander–Reiten theory, Axis-angle representation, Bergman–Weil formula, Bivariate analysis, CP decomposition, Distortion problem, Einstein–Infeld–Hoffmann equations, Energy distance, Equichordal point problem, Erdős–Rado theorem, Euler calculus, Extension of a polyhedron, Fictitious domain method, Formally étale morphism, František Wolf, Gabriel's theorem, GraSM, Hadamard three-lines theorem, Harmonic pitch class profiles, Hermann Schapira, Highest weight category, Humphrey Baker, Ising critical exponents, John Baines (mathematician), John of Tynemouth (geometer), José Augusto Sánchez Pérez, Juan Luis Vázquez Suárez, Karl Johann Kiessling, Lagrange multiplier, Leah Keshet, List of four dimensional games, List of topics named after Karl Weierstrass, Loewy ring, Logicomix, Manohar Vartak, Mathematics Made Difficult, Mathematics and Computer Education Journal, Mathematics journal, Maurice Auslander, Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society, Metzler matrix, Mikhail Vasilyevich Menshikov, Mishnat ha-Middot, Multi-objective optimization, N=2 superconformal algebra, NK Model, Nakayama algebra, Nearly Kähler manifold, Octave (electronics), Olga Holtz, Opasnet, Open assessment, Operator, OptimJ, Orthodiagonal quadrilateral, Per comparison error rate, Pre-math skills, Press–Schechter formalism, Pseudoanalytic function, Real Analysis Exchange, Ribbon theory, Sheldon Axler, Solomon Gandz, Steven J. Cox, System Size Expansion, The Mathematical Classic of Sun Zi, The Ten Computational Canons, Thomas Little Heath, Tilting theory, Time-frequency analysis for music signal, Topology and its Applications, Transformation (function), Tricomplex number, Troposkein, Truncus (mathematics), Vector (mathematics and physics), Vladimir Ivanovich Mironenko, William E. Beckner
Acta Numerica, Advances in Mathematics, Alfred Loewy, List of mathematics education journals, List of mathematics journals, List of probability journals, List of statistics journals, Weak-star topology, List of genetic algorithm applications, Conformal group, Dieudonné determinant,

Happy editing! Michael Hardy (talk) 03:37, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Struck a few that I think are OK. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:30, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Tricomplex number

Tricomplex number has been prodded. Is it worth keeping? Michael Hardy (talk) 20:48, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Although the topic does sound suspect, there does seem to be some work by Silviu Olariu, for example this paper and a book "Complex numbers in N dimensions". — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:32, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
The only way this even begins to make sense is if one takes {1, i, j} to mean the distinct cube roots of one in the ordinary complex numbers. JRSpriggs (talk) 08:35, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
On 32-th sight this may not be as absurd as it appears on first sight. The source seems to be 2.1 of Olariu's book (published by North-Holland). What he describes is actually three-dimensional as a vector space over the reals. First I thought there must be a contradiction, but it turns out it's just a commutative ring, not a field. There are a plane and an additional straight line on which the tricomplex numbers have no inverse. Hans Adler 09:41, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
The review of Olariu's book in Mathematical Reviews gives some insight. I think Olariu's approach is worth a short mention at hypercomplex numbers. The article could then be turned into a redirect. Hans Adler 10:14, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
MR 2003j:30002 --Qwfp (talk) 11:35, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

I've added some references to the article and a link from hypercomplex number saying "Tricomplex numbers - a 3d vector space over the reals, one of a family of systems of commutative hypercomplex numbers in n-dimensions over the reals.". Still not very notable, but neither are multicomplex numbers. (talk) 23:52, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Transfinite induction

An anonymous editor at transfinite induction is under the remarkable impression that there is no successor step in transfinite induction. Please help out. --Trovatore (talk) 22:13, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

"The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers" by David Wells

Is this reliable? A certain editor is adding "facts" sourced to it, and in cube root, what was attributed to it about the history of the cube root of two was totally wrong. I'm asking here, before going to WP:RSN, as I'd like to see what other mathematicians have to say about it. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:19, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

My copy of the book is the "Revised Edition," so perhaps it's different from the edition used by the editor who inserted the purported fact about the cube root of 2. But I can't find any claim, in the edition I have, that Descartes was the one who proved the cube root of 2 to be irrational. (In fact, Descartes doesn't appear in the index.) The section about the cube root of 2, on page 17, focuses entirely on the duplication of the cube, and mentions only ancient Greeks. Page 34 is in the middle of the section about pi, and discusses a few attempts to square the circle, but doesn't mention Descartes or the cube root of 2.
About your question of reliability: Many of the entries in this book include references to other sources, so if there is a question about the correctness of a claim, hopefully there's a reference we can follow up. —Bkell (talk) 18:58, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
Investigating other recent additions by LutherVinci sourced to this book (it does appear that he is using a different edition, since the page numbers are different):
  • Quotation about 00 [5]: The relevant quote appears on page 9 of the Revised Edition, and says: "Like unity, 0 proves exceptional in other ways. It is an old puzzle to decide what 00 means. Since a0 is always 1, when a is not zero, surely by continuity it should also equal 1 when a is zero? Not so! 0a is always 0, when a is not zero, so by the same argument from continuity, 00 should equal 0. [Karl Menninger, Number Words and Number Symbols, MIT Press, 1969]".
  • 0.12345678910111213141516171819202122… [6]: Appears on page 9 of the Revised Edition.
  • Decimal expansion of i^i [7]: Appears on page 10 of the Revised Edition.
  • Joke cancellation of fractions equaling 1/4 [8]: Appears on page 10 of the Revised Edition.
  • Decimal expansion of \log_{10}2 [9][10]: Appears on page 10 of the Revised Edition, but no claim is made that this is an algebraic number.
  • Decimal expansions of \pi^{-1}, e^{-1}, and \log_{10}e [11]: Appear on pages 10 and 11 of the Revised Edition, but nothing is said about their transcendentality.
  • Facts about 1/2 [12]: Appear on page 11 of the Revised Edition. The paragraph mentioning 6729/13458 and 9327/18624 has a reference to "[Friedman, Scripta Mathematica v8]".
  • Unknown status of the irrationality or transcendentality of Euler's constant [13]: Appears on page 12 of the Revised Edition, with a reference to "[Brent, MOC v31]".
  • Tau [14]: Page 51 of the Revised Edition states that 6.283185… is 2π, and says that it is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius and also the number of radians in a complete circle (both of which are very elementary facts), but does not call it "tau."
  • Expression of \log2 as a series [15]: Appears on page 12 of the Revised Edition.
  • Importance of \pi/\sqrt{18} to sphere packing [16]: Appears on page 13 of the Revised Edition, where it is a direct quotation attributed to Rogers.
  • 1/ζ(3) [17]: Appears on page 13 of the Revised Edition.
  • \pi/(2\sqrt3) [18]: Appears on page 13 of the Revised Edition.
  • Facts about 1 [19]: The fact that it is both triangular and pentagonal appears on pages 14 and 15 of the Revised Edition, though on page 15 it is written as, "Similarly, 1 is the smallest number that is simultaneously triangular and pentagonal. Also boring!" This is immediately followed by the sentence, "Indeed, 1 might be considered to be the first number that is both boring and interesting," but obviously this is a statement of opinion and is mathematically imprecise. The book also mentions that 1 is excluded from the primes, and gives a couple of intuitive justifications for that, but nowhere does it say, "1 is the smallest number of ways n objects can be arranged" (what is that supposed to mean, anyway—that 1 is the smallest factorial?).
  • Solution to Prince Rupert's cube [20]: Appears on page 16 of the Revised Edition, where it is attributed to "[Schrek, 'Prince Rupert's Problem', Scripta Mathematica v16]".
  • \pi^4/90 [21]: Appears on page 16 of the Revised Edition, but its transcendentality is not mentioned.
It appears that LutherVinci is attempting to go through the entire book and add nearly every fact to Wikipedia somewhere. —Bkell (talk) 19:36, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
I have the first edition of The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers (although mine's falling to bits now). It includes the following on page 34: "This [finding the cube root of two] is impossible with ruler and compasses, as Descartes proved two thousand years later in 1637". No reference is given, unfortunately. Interpreting this as implying the cube root of two is irrational, rather than constructible, was presumably an honest error.
The section about the duplication of the cube begins on p34, and includes: "The legend was told that the Athenians sent a deputation to the oracle at Delos to inquire how they might save themselves from a plague that was ravaging the city. They were instructed to double the size of the altar of Apollo." The change from 'altar' to 'temple' and omission of 'legend' here is down to the editor. As for the other discrepancies between this version and Doubling the cube#History (Athenians consulting oracle at Delos vs. citizens of Delos consulting oracle at Delphi), i'd personally be inclined to doubt Wells rather than that article's editors or Plutarch. --Qwfp (talk) 20:54, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
I certainly have no objection to including the legend, but LutherVinci was including it as fact, and I don't see why it should necessarily be in cube root, rather than in doubling the cube. In fact, I moved the information to doubling the cube, although I left it with {{cn}}. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:31, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Duplication of content and general confusion

Please see Talk:Entailment#Duplication of content. - dcljr (talk) 19:55, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Lapierre-Roy vectors?

Editor User:NewtonEin (as well as some anon ips) has been inserting material on Lapierre-Roy vectors and the Lapierre-Roy Law (such as in recent edits to Riemann zeta function). These two articles and related edits seem to be non-notable and OR. I'd be tempted to prod them, but I've never actually done this so I don't really know what it means. The first article appears to be renaming the concept of "infinite-dimensional vectors" while the second appears to be elementary estimates on values of the zeta function. Could anyone look at this? RobHar (talk) 03:18, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Prodded, although \zeta(2k+1) \leq \sqrt {\zeta(2k) \zeta(2k+2)} might be of interest for large k. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 06:14, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

0.999...<1, a common misconception?

Is this a common misconception? You can comment at Talk:List of common misconceptions#0.999.... Tkuvho (talk) 03:41, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Advances in Applied Mathematics

I've created a new article titled Advances in Applied Mathematics. As it stands, it needs work. Michael Hardy (talk) 20:35, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Three math related FP nominations

After weeks of nothing there are now three nominations at once. Follow the links to see the discussions:

--RDBury (talk) 14:41, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

possible articles for clarity/accessibility improvement

  • metric tensor - this one was actually a featured article once. (a long time ago.) and commended for its readability (also a long time ago.)

post away. perhaps some day i'll find a better place to gather such a list.

also, another idea might be sort of a prize for clear and accessible articles. Kevin Baastalk 02:51, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

The first paragraph of that article seems perfectly reasonable, and it has a long introduction section. The topic is a basic part of differential geometry, which again is typically studied either at the basic graduate level or an advanced undergraduate level. And the article would still give some help to a person with some mathematical maturity who was willing to follow links. I don't think it's a goal we can or should attempt to make articles like that "accessible" to readers who don't have any of the background needed for the topic, for example the typical person off the street. A certain amount of mathematical maturity is going to be required for graduate-level mathematics, and there's nothing Wikipedia can do to change that. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:08, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
okay, now you're just being silly. i understand the topic quite clearly i picked up a few books on them in my freshman year and it was quite clear and intuitive with just a basic understanding of calculus. the article is nothing of the sort. to give but an example "a rank 2 tensor". oh, you mean a matrix. well you know you could have said that. i happen to know that but say an engineer who hasn't taken a graduate course in topology abstract algebra and catgory theory is probably going to have a little difficulty with the intro. which is unfortunate because the concept is really quite simple and easy to understand. and easy to communicate. that article is a perfect example and it defintely stays on the list. Kevin Baastalk 03:25, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
The article does not seem to include the phrase "rank 2 tensor", and the first paragraph seems fine, like I said. But if what you mean by "accessibility" is replacing the word "tensor" with "matrix" in an article titled "metric tensor", personally I'm glad we don't have it. The article does say, in the last sentence of the lede, that relative to a coordinate system the tensor field can be reduced to a matrix field. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:32, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
errr.. i'm sorry.. "nondegenerate symmetric bilinear form". i think that's what it refers to. you get my point. (i'm pretty sure i saw rank 2 tensor somewhere in the article if not the intro.) Kevin Baastalk 03:44, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't get your point, actually. "Symmetric bilinear form" is a pretty elementary topic, and which is usually covered in an undergrad linear algebra course. I feel most students learn that before they learn what a matrix field on a manifold is. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:52, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Not to mention that it would be fairly difficult to define a metric tensor without relying on this concept. Fortunately, the article has a self-contained explanation of this concept. Yay! Sławomir Biały (talk) 03:59, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Now you're wading into the tensor wars. Have fun with that.
To be a little less obscure — there is a deep division of opinion on how best to present tensors in general. The usual preference among mathematicians, and physicists of a certain stripe (e.g. the ones who wrote Gravitation), is to use a coordinate-free presentation. In my view there are good reasons for this; it is conceptually more fundamental. It is true, however, that the barriers to entry are a bit higher. --Trovatore (talk) 03:33, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

(ec)i beleived we compromised a long time ago by having 3 treatments: classical, intermediate, and component-free (modern). they can exist independantly just fine where the terms are different. though i'm sure there's overlap. Kevin Baastalk 03:44, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
The three-tiered solution was not ideal. I'm glad to see that there has recently been some progress towards consolidation. Sławomir Biały (talk) 03:59, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Of course, the metric tensor article actually does it both ways, and explains nearly all of the jargon that it uses. But the real irony is that Kevin complained that there was too much jargon (e.g., covariant, tensor, etc.) in 2007 on the discussion page, and then someone added careful explanations of all the jargon along with the introductory section, and now he's complaining again because the explanations are difficult to understand. Sometimes that's just how it is with mathematics. Sławomir Biały (talk) 03:38, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
you're not listening and you're not being sympathetic. please if you're jsut going to be adversarial well it's not going to help so please let us just do our thing and improve the math articles for once. Kevin Baastalk 03:44, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Also, the version of the article that Kevin seems to prefer is (presumably) this revision, which was the last time he meaningfully edited the article. I don't see how anyone can honestly claim that this earlier revision is superior. Moreover, it is equally clear to me that no revision of this article would have been featured by any meaningfully standard, contrary to Kevin's claim. Sławomir Biały (talk) 03:47, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
if that wasn't an edit conflict i'd feel i'd have to repeat what i just said. Kevin Baastalk 03:50, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Given that you have commented on the talk page of metric tensor since 2003, what do you mean by "for once"? — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:52, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
clearly i am talking specifically about the metric tensor article which i have been working so hard on the past few months. (end sarcasm) Kevin Baastalk 03:53, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
(In response to Kevin's reply to me above) That's interesting advice from someone who avowedly no longer edits mathematics articles. Believe me, I am interested both in making our technical articles more accessible, and in making them serious reference works. I have edited hundreds of mathematics articles with these aims in mind. Telling off the very people who are trying to help is clearly not constructive. Are you sure you aren't trolling? Sławomir Biały (talk) 03:55, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
who's "telling off" anybody? i'm talking about improving article content and i would very much like to remain focused on that, please. are there any articles you'd like to add to the list? Kevin Baastalk 15:30, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
You just said "please let us just do our thing and improve the math articles for once", which I consider to be telling off. You have made very clear that you don't want my help. In fact, it seems to me that you aren't interested in the help of anyone that disagrees with you, which includes most of the folks here. Since these are the very people in the best position to improve the accessibility of our articles, it has become difficult for me to continue to believe that you seek genuine improvement. Perhaps you don't really understand what improvement entails. This is certainly suggested by the two examples you have so far provided, which went from amateurishly written, error-filled pieces to professionally written authoritative references on their respective subjects. Yet you seem to feel that this kind of progress is undesirable. Perhaps you aren't interested in professional quality writing—one obvious hallmark of which, incidentally, is being able to locate the SHIFT key on the keyboard. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:46, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Why are we humoring this obvious troll? (talk) 04:31, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
i wouldn't go so far as to call anyone on here trolls. i don't think they really mean to stand in the way of improving the articles. i'm guessing its largely status quo bias. and accusing people of things like that can itself be a problem and is generally considedered uncivil and bad form. for the sake of having a productive discuss, lets keep things focused on content. thanks. Kevin Baastalk 15:26, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Uh, no genius, he was (correctly) calling _you_ out as a troll. (talk) 19:22, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
BTW (not to feed the troll), shouldn't Riemannian manifold be given more attention? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kallikanzarid (talkcontribs) 07:29, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
see above. please try to remain civil and keep the discussion productive. thank you. Kevin Baastalk 15:35, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Quite possibly, but the lede (which is all I read just now) seems perfectly accessible for the topic. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:17, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
bear in mind, CBM, that you are not the general audience. "accessible" is a word that by its very nature refers to a general audience, not just you. it is clear that it does not seem perfectly accessible to some, even most people, as for one, most people don't have a graduate degree in mathematics. Kevin Baastalk 15:31, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
In a number of cases, such as Riemannian manifold, there is an easy solution, namely by providing a link to a more elementary page. Tkuvho (talk) 15:55, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm very much against that solution in general. The lead should as far as possible should be written at an introductory level though there may be bits at the end of it to summarize more advanced bits of the article. Precise definitions can wait till later and one can have an introduction in the articles themselves. Dmcq (talk) 13:37, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with that as a general guideline, but in a hierarchical field like mathematics this is difficult to accomplish, and I think Riemannian manifold is a good example. Carl and I added a link in the lede to Differential geometry of surfaces, which is more elementary. I don't see how one can make Riemannian manifold accessible to a beginner (even with a calculus under his belt) without including a huge chuck of the material from Differential geometry of surfaces. My general suggestion would be to have an "Introduction" article for each high-level article such as Riemannian manifold. In this case, the article on surfaces can play the role of such an introduction. Tkuvho (talk) 13:48, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Personally i've grown tired of this. there is way to much adversity to change making itself plainly obvious, despite what some people say. i just posted one suggestion here and see all the resistance that resulted. WhatAmIDoing was right: it's pointless; all it's good for is raising one's blood pressure. and i'm not really in to that sort of thing. it's sad, really (unfortunate), but what are you going to do? i can certainly find more productive uses for my time than dealing with this kind of blood-boiling resistance, utter lack of sympathy, or even listening, and worst of all condenscion, and getting nowhere. Kevin Baastalk 19:45, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Miniclip, Jango, YouTube, ... just go have fun and don't worry about it. If you later decide to help out we'd be happy for another set of eyes, but the discussion at this point seems counterproductive. CRGreathouse (t | c) 20:04, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Three questions for the lede

Tkuvho really gets credit for that link. I did copyedit the lede some. I think that the main questions that the lede needs to answer are the following, along with their answers from the lede of Riemannian geometry

  1. What is it? A Riemannian manifold is a real differentiable manifold in which each tangent space is equipped with an inner product that varies smoothly from point to point.
  2. What is it useful for? A Riemannian metric makes it possible to define various geometric notions on a Riemannian manifold, such as angles, lengths of curves, areas (or volumes), curvature, gradients of functions and divergence of vector fields.
  3. What field is it studied in? Riemannian geometry and differential geometry of surfaces

It is not always feasible to give a full answer in the lede, in which case we should still try to say something non-trivial (and at least nearly correct). For example, here are the answers from Kleene's T predicate:

  1. A particular ternary relation on natural numbers that is used to obtain a normal form for computable functions and to represent computability within formal theories of arithmetic.
  2. Telling whether a particular computer program will halt when run with a particular input.
  3. Computability theory.

The answer to #1 there is intentionally vague, but it's still explanatory. Especially in longer article, the lede also serves as a summary of the main points of the article. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:01, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

The start of the definition section of the Kleene's T predicate looked quite reasonable to me as an introduction for someone who was about ready but didn't know anything about it, so it looked better to me as the easy bit of the lead. The what is it is true - but I eel it assumes you already know a bit about where you're going. WHich is all a bit wrong in ways because I'd have thought the more difficult bit would start with the definition section. Dmcq (talk) 14:42, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I think there's an aspect of mathematical literacy that we may be somewhat overlooking here. In the sentence "In computability theory, the T predicate, due to American mathematician Stephen Cole Kleene, is a particular ternary relation on natural numbers that is used to obtain a normal form for computable functions and to represent computability within formal theories of arithmetic.", for instance, a mathematically literate reader may well see "ternary relation", think "I don't know what that is, so I'll leave it as a variable and come back to it later", or maybe click on the bluelink. This sort of writing, in which undefined terms are defined much more precisely later on, is standard in mathematics, and we're all used to it. A mathematically illiterate reader, or Kevin, may be more likely to think "I don't know what that is. This article is written too technically for me. I can't continue reading." So, more than is usual in articles written purely by and for mathematicians, we need to be careful here to avoid to the extent possible esoteric and technical terms at the starts of our articles, or when they are unavoidable to gloss them immediately within the text of the article rather than relying on the bluelink to do the glossing for us. (Of course, "ternary relation" is not the most technical term in that sentence, but I still think it would be an improvement in readability to write it as "set of triples" instead. It may be less precise that way but a little imprecision in the lede is not always a bad thing.) —David Eppstein (talk) 18:59, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Carl, I like your set of three questions. I think they go a long ways towards addressing this problem. Furthermore, it's a simple, actionable goal: anytime someone complains, you can see if the three questions are answered. If you try them out on a few articles and continue to find them as promising as they look to me, then I suggest adding them to Wikipedia:Manual of Style (mathematics)#Article_introduction.
David, I think your example of "set of triples" is a good way to deal with technical terms. Another option is "ternary relation (set of triples)". We live in an unfortunately math-phobic world, and using simpler-sounding words will reduce the odds of scaring away the reader. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:05, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I like both of those wordings for ternary relation in that article. CRGreathouse (t | c) 20:06, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts#personal attacks and uncivil comments by User:TimothyRias

Just to note that is at least one attack at WQA basically at all the editors here (by Gregbard). Dougweller (talk) 12:51, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't think there is much benefit in responding to things like that. Many editors here have seen this opinion from Gregbard before – it's far from the first time he has expressed it. The WQA thread seems to be mostly resolved, and if it is going to come to any resolution that will require completely uninvolved editors commenting on it, rather then involved editors needlessly prolonging the discussion. — Carl (CBM · talk)
I view practically all the discussion referred to as having just sucked away a bit of my life. Dmcq (talk) 13:53, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
But that's _IMPOSSIBLE_ Greg's a Goode Faithe Editor. You must have just read it wrong. (talk) 19:20, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
And someone said I couldn't take criticism! Kevin Baastalk 19:38, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

exterior algebra lead

Some encyclopedic editors are reverting my addition of a sentence in the lead at exterior algebra providing a link to more elementary pages that should be read first. Are they being too encyclopedic? Tkuvho (talk) 19:50, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

wikipedia is a great source of info for just about anything, with one exception: mathematics.

...for that I go to wolfram mathematica or planetmath or essentially anywhere else.

and it seems this state has been getting progressively worse throughout the years. as if there are a number of people who are actively making it worse.

something really needs to be done about making the articles coherent and accessible. badly.

Kevin Baastalk 17:36, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

So fix it. —Bkell (talk) 18:28, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
i'm not unfamiliar with that. i'm a long time contributor. surely you don't expect me to single handedly fix up every mathematics article on the wiki, do you? no, of course not. that kind of hand-wavey response is wildly out of proportion. Kevin Baastalk 18:42, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, were you proposing a solution, or just complaining about the problem? If it's the latter, then I don't think my admittedly brusque response was "wildly out of proportion." —Bkell (talk) 19:30, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
both, actually, as you can tell simply by reading what i wrote. but your response was wildly out of proportion regardless. you see it is out of proportion because i am one person and the subject is a systematic trend throughout all of the mathematics articles. those two things are wildly out of proportion. furthermore whether i just say a complaint or make a criticism has no effect on the proportions of anything. Kevin Baastalk 20:11, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Interesting. I have found the opposite to be true, pretty much without exception. Whenever I need a mathematics reference, I find that the best general purpose resources are typically Wikipedia and the Springer EOM, in that order. Mathworld's articles are too superficial, and often filled with technical errors and idiosyncracies that make it unsuitable as a mathematics reference. There are topics of enormous importance in mathematics that Mathworld doesn't even cover, or covers only minimally. Moreover, the references at mathworld are not very well-selected, often to tertiary literature, and so it is difficult to use Mathworld as a jumping-off point to consult the primary literature on a topic about which one wishes to learn more. (Although the same criticism could be made to many of our articles as well, I find that the standard of referencing in recent times is much improved over that of just a few years ago.) Finally, I can't imagine that anyone would seriously consider Planetmath as a viable alternative anymore. At any rate, most of the Planetmath content was already imported here ages ago. So perhaps it would help to turn this in a more constructive direction if you could be more specific. What role does a mathematics reference serve in your life, and why does Wikipedia fail to live up to that role? Can you give examples? Sławomir Biały (talk) 18:49, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) The thing with WIkipedia is that it has many contributors to keep an eye and a hand on it. If we spot a mistake, we can indeed fix it. If we spot one at Mathworld, we can send them an email once, twice, and three times—and then stop bothering since they never reply anyway. I gave up a long time ago, and whenever I see mathworld as a source for something here, I tend to hear an alarmbell somewhere. Probably a Pavlow thing. DVdm (talk) 18:57, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec)We borged Planet Math a while back. Maybe that needs updating, but it's detail work the second time through. Rich Farmbrough, 18:58, 17th day of January in the year 2011 (UTC).
(ec) (reply to bialy) you see, none of what you just said speaks to what i said. that's great if you find wikipedia math articles make for a great collection of links ("well selected references") and what not. but among other things wikipedia is not a collection of links. now if you can recall the adjectives i used to describe what is lacking in the articles (as distinct from logically unrelated things that are not lacking), and relate your response to that, well that would be much more helpful. as you will see if you can find those adjectives, i _was_ specific in a _constructive_ direction. Kevin Baastalk 19:01, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
You wrote above:
wikipedia is a great source of info for just about anything, with one exception: mathematics....for that i go to wolfram mathematica or planetmath or essentially anywhere else. and it seems this state has been getting progressively worse throughout the years. as if there are a number of people who are actively making it worse.
I find the opposite to be true, and I have attempted to explain briefly some of the reasons. I don't believe that I ever mentioned links, but I agree that Wikipedia is not a collection of them. Our articles are generally much more detailed, with substantially more information than the corresponding Mathworld articles. From this perspective, our articles are better without a doubt, much more than a repository of links. Now coming to your last point, unfortunately it is not always easy to express this information in a way that will be accessible to everyone. It is certainly a worthwhile goal to do so as far as possible, and project members are by and large really interested in improving accessibility. Obviously this is not the only consideration: in particular, the depth and breadth of our coverage should not suffer as a result of our efforts to clarify. So to help guide your critique in a more useful direction, perhaps you could list some Mathworld articles that you feel express themselves better than the corresponding articles here, but yet have about the same depth of coverage. I think a reasonable goal is for our exposition of more elementary material to be as good or better than than at Mathworld. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:23, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
thank you, bialy. in particular i've noticed the exterior algebra article is quite opaque. though i can't say in this case that wolfram is much better (i've just noticed over the years that it's much clearer and more visually intuitive which is why i use it instead of wikipedia). particulaly it starts off by barraging the reader with a bunch of esoteric terms, and in no apparent order. basic writing composition says you shouldn't put more than a fe ideas in a sentence and it violates that right there. it also clearly violates WP:LEDE. sure, you can have in depth information and all that, but that's what the body is for. the intro is for just that: to give a light introduction, and it should be accessible to readers who are not already familiar with the subject, as the clearly expressed by the style guidelines. Kevin Baastalk 20:11, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
on a more general note, there seems to be the presumption in many cases that accessibility is something more or less optional. and in any case takes a back seat to things like completeness and technical generality and so forth. however, it is easy to see that if something is not accessible, these latter things are entirely moot. accesibility and clarity is not merely optional, it is essential. it is a higher priority than making wikipedia something like a complete technical reference for every single aspect of every single proof of everything in only the most abstract all en-compassing terms etc etc. that is not what wikipedia is for. wikipedia is supposed to be a human readable encyclopedia, above all else. so what i'm suggesting here is a shift in priorities. i understand that some people may be quite adverse to this for their own reasons. but we are not writting for ourselves, we are writting for our audience. as such we should make a focused effort to write with respect to them. Kevin Baastalk 20:26, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, people do have different priorities. We are all just volunteers after all, and I think that imposing a different set of priorities is likely to be met with the sort of resistance you are encountering. Sławomir Biały (talk) 13:11, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

The truth is that enWP's mathematics coverage is the go-to reference for those seriously studying the subject, i.e. graduate students. This is clear from the attitude on the MathOverflow site: search WP first, then ask us. In other words the articles this project curates are doing the work of a mathematical encyclopedia. It may be that we should look at criticisms that we are not performing other functions; but I for one am not prepared to accept such criticisms from User:Kevin Baas, whom I don't consider a reliable witness. Charles Matthews (talk) 19:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

lol! "being prepared" to "accept criticisms" from [insert name here], and whether they are "reliable witnesses"! omg, you can't possibly be serious! rotflmao! Kevin Baastalk 19:47, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
You haven't named a single article that you think could be improved. Ozob (talk) 19:49, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
thank you master of the obvious. Kevin Baastalk 20:02, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Put up or shut up. Ozob (talk) 20:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
dude, learn some frickin' manners. what are you like a high school bully or something? geez. i don't condone that kind of stuff. i don't tolerate people speaking to others that way. Kevin Baastalk 20:11, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
For someone who claims on his user page to value critical thinking, your contribution so far has been disappointingly vague. Thank you for your discussion of exterior algebra above. If you have more evidence for your claim that Wikipedia's math articles are not "coherent and accessible", please provide it. Ozob (talk) 20:18, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

and yet he continues on in the same vein... as for critical thinking, i did not "claim that Wikipedia's math articles are not "coherent and accessible"". i said something logically related to that, yes, but that statement is a much stronger statement that is altogether logically different and does not follow. also being "vague", or more accurately, "general" does not preclude critical thinking. so there is another flaw in your argument. furthermore my goal is not to provide evidence of anything about wikipedia. that would be rather pointless and unproductive. but in any case, regarding the example i gave when asked nicely by baily... perhaps next time instead you could save yourself some breath and hardship by being a little more patient, or by taking after baily's much more practical approach of asking nicely. Kevin Baastalk 20:38, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

[22]. Bully yourself. You have been making assertions about the treatment of mathematics here for seven years, and I have yet to see you do any actual work towards improving it; you have certainly scrambled up the tensor topics, but forgive me if I don't count that as a plus. Charles Matthews (talk) 20:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

i'm not bullying anybody and i'm certainly not going to take orders from you. what you mean to say is that i've voiced similiar concerns something like seven years ago. which is quite different from implying that i've been doing it constantly for seven straight years. VERY VERY different. and of course i do not appreciate that. in fact i find it quite aggressive and inappropriate. (besides being an ad hominimem argument (among other things) and thus having no real practical value) and from the rest of what you say it's clear that you value your own opinion especially highly. certainly you consider your own opinion so much superior so that you can justify to yourself being offensive and aggressive to other people. needless to say this is also inappropriate. Kevin Baastalk 20:38, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Compared to other areas I think the maths articles are quite well developed. For instance if you want to find out something like why using wax on a polyurethane coated floor is a bad idea or how to sharpen a chisel Wikipedia is definitely not the place to go. Comparing to Planetmath is silly. Mathworld can be a bit friendlier sometimes, that's something a person interested in improving the maths articles could help with. Dmcq (talk) 20:41, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Gentlemen I vaguely remember we have a policy concerning the undesirability of personal attacks. As far as the subject of this posting is concerned, as I recall Charles developed a rather comprehensive reply a number of months ago, could you please provide a link? Tkuvho (talk) 20:46, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) yeah, that's what i'm talking about, making it a bit friendlier. i'm thinking maybe there should be some kind of community collaboration effort to make the articles "friendlier". that's why i brought it up on the project portal. on the note of the tensor articles, i'd like to take a breather from deflecting aggression aimed at me and say that i think that's an area where i feel there has been much improvement in this regard over the years and i'd like to thank everyone who contributed. Kevin Baastalk 20:47, 17 January 2011 (UTC)


  1. Wikipedia is not in competition with PlanetMath or MathWorld or any of these other places you mentioned. There is no need for Wikipedia math articles to be better than articles from those other sources. They are specialized resources focusing solely on math; Wikipedia is a general-purpose encyclopedia. If Wikipedia has better math articles than they do, great; if not, well, that's not our specialty.
  2. If you think PlanetMath or MathWorld has better math articles than Wikipedia, then use PlanetMath or MathWorld instead of Wikipedia. It won't bother us, I promise.
  3. Your suggested solution in your original post was apparently "something really neeeds [sic] to be done about making the articles coherent and accessible. badly." That's not a helpful suggestion. You aren't providing any specific ideas or proposals. You are basically just saying, "You guys have bad math articles and need to fix them!" That's not a solution—that's a complaint.
  4. We are volunteers here. We don't need to do anything.
  5. If you aren't happy with the state of Wikipedia math articles, you are more than welcome to help to improve them. That's why I posted WP:SOFIXIT. But simply complaining at the rest of us that you don't like the math articles here isn't going to solve anything. —Bkell (talk) 20:55, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

  1. Wikipedia is not in competition with PlanetMath or MathWorld or any of these other places you mentioned. There is no need for Wikipedia math articles to be better than articles from those other sources. They are specialized resources focusing solely on math; Wikipedia is a general-purpose encyclopedia. If Wikipedia has better math articles than they do, great; if not, well, that's not our specialty.
    we're not in competition with anybody. but that doesn't mean we can't look at the strengths and weaknesses of other sources and maybe learn some valuable insights about writing and presentation by doing so. as to our specialty, quite correct: it is not math articles, it is as you say, being a general purpose encyclopedia. which is kinda my point, actually. our math articles should be written as if we are a general purpose encyclopedia, not as if we specialized in math for mathematicians. Kevin Baastalk 21:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. If you think PlanetMath or MathWorld has better math articles than Wikipedia, then use PlanetMath or MathWorld instead of Wikipedia. It won't bother us, I promise.
    oh yes, but they're not a wiki. i can't take the strengths of one and transfer it to another. with a wiki dictionary, that's at least theoretically possible. Kevin Baastalk 21:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. Your suggested solution in your original post was apparently "something really neeeds [sic] to be done about making the articles coherent and accessible. badly." That's not a helpful suggestion. You aren't providing any specific ideas or proposals. You are basically just saying, "You guys have bad math articles and need to fix them!" That's not a solution—that's a complaint.
    i was more specific and suggested ways in which they could be improved. you see i just used the word suggestion right there. (well, the -ed version of it.) i'm surprised you missed them after actually quoting me on them. i suggested "making the articles [more] coherent and accessible". (edit:that is certainly a specific way of improving things. put otherwise "i strongly think the articles could benefit greatly if we focused more on ___." and that is clearly a solution. and not a vague unspecific complaint as you seem to try to parody it as.) i was trying to leave the discussion open for ideas, kind of brainstorming, instead of jsut taking control of it right away with my own. though i have stated it now, creating sort of a formal team for making articles "-friendlier", as somebody else put it. Kevin Baastalk 21:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. We are volunteers here. We don't need to do anything.
    oh yes, i didn't mean to use the word like that. i though that was clear from the context. sorry. Kevin Baastalk 21:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
  5. If you aren't happy with the state of Wikipedia math articles, you are more than welcome to help to improve them. That's why I posted WP:SOFIXIT. But simply complaining at the rest of us that you don't like the math articles here isn't going to solve anything. —Bkell (talk) 20:55, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
    i have improved them. i know why you posted sofixit. (i'm not an idiot.) and again i'm not simply "complaining at the rest of us that you don't like the math articles ". that is a false characterization. which should be pretty obvious by now if it wasn't originally. Kevin Baastalk 21:08, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Maybe we should start collecting these discussions, in a FAQ-type listing. It might be a much more efficient method of communicating this group's apparent disinterest in addressing this ongoing problem.

Someone complains that the math-related articles are needlessly opaque several times a year, and as far as I can tell, every single complaint gets blown off. Typically, the closest we come to a solution is someone inviting the complainants to magically know enough about the subjects to fix basic problems (e.g., the absence of a paragraph about "why anyone cares about this concept"). In my experience, identifying specific, concrete problems in specific, named sentences in individual, linked articles earns you exactly the same kind of dismissive response that vaguer complaints produce. I've personally seen a complaint about a basic grammar problem get dismissed, as if editors who work on math articles shouldn't have to use the level of English that one expects from a typical 12 year old.

So Kevin, let me assure you that far from the first person to complain about this problem, but unfortunately the people who appear to be primarily responsible for creating the problem are perfectly satisfied with the status quo, so complaining here will accomplish nothing except raising your blood pressure. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:05, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

It's utterly ridiculous to compare WP math coverage with MathWorld and think it comes up short!! WP math articles are immensely superior to MathWorld. --Trovatore (talk) 22:13, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that people complaining typically do so with a very aggressive voice and with an air of entitlement. The OP of this thread is a case in point, it is basically a troll. It appears the OP wanted nothing short than a flame war for his own entertainment. If not, he just has very poor people and motivational skills.TimothyRias (talk) 22:23, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

breaking up

@WhatamIdoing: I, for one, have on many occasions addressed issues raised by users concerning the accessibility of math articles. Typically, these occur on talk pages of the corresponding articles, in which case they are much easier to address. I'd venture to say that most accessibility issues raised on this discussion page are rather vague and hence much harder to address appropriately. It is true that it would difficult for the one person raising the issue to fix everything him/herself, but with a complaint like "almost all math articles on wiki are incoherent and inaccessible", it's not like the ~20 regulars who hang out in this forum can fix everything either. Other times I've disregarded a request to improve accessibility are along the lines of "I have a college degree in engineering, and even I don't understand what the article Class formation is saying", and while that article could be improved and made more accessible, knowing college level math is by no means sufficient to have any idea what that article is about.

As for the discussion at hand, the OP's original comment was certainly not the best way to approach this issue. In fact, the only phrase the people in this forum are likely to somewhat agree with is that accessibility needs to be improved. I, for one, am pretty sure most of our articles are "coherent", and I'm only on wikipedia because I find planetmath and mathworld mostly unhelpful. I'm also fairly certain our articles have not been getting worse. (You could argue that maybe the number of good ones as a percentage of the whole is going down, but only because there's an increasing amount of articles, so that's not a very good measure). Finally, while there are people making articles actively worse, they are presumably not the people from whom the OP is asking for help, so there's no need to leave a lingering potential insult lying around. So, as I said, there is at most one thing out of six that the OP said initially that participants here could identify with. That's not a good score if you're trying to get people to help you. RobHar (talk) 22:39, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

(ec) i don't know who you're talking about, unless "OP" refers to "original poster", which is pretty transparent, i.e. you might as well use the person's name. it doesn't make it any less of a personal attack, which is strictly prohibited. and it is very overt and egregious and i strain to not state myself more plainly for fear of the same. furhtermore it is assuming bad faith and it is talking about editors and not content. all rather egregious contraventions of policy and simply good form. and the personal attacks on me are certainly most egregious and i do not appreciate them and in fact take great offense to them. i presume in good faith that that is not your goal, of course (and well, that it would be quite ironic if it were). so perhaps as a sign of good faith you could offer some repair, as it were? Kevin Baastalk 22:43, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
If you take such great offense at insult, you might consider not starting off a thread with one. I'm prepared to offer an apology, if you first apologize to this community as a whole. TimothyRias (talk) 22:54, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
i'll take that as a no. be that as it may, i am reporting you on WP:ANI. Kevin Baastalk 22:59, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
In case anyone cares: the actual report appears to have been at Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts#personal attacks and uncivil comments by User:TimothyRias. And Kevin appears to have failed to follow proper Wikiquette himself, by not notifying the subject of his report more explicitly. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
opp, sorry i missed that. thanks. though notifying me more politely on my talk page (and perhaps being a bit ore patient and less accusatory. (first time i've used the new process.)) would be... well looks like we both screwed up. Kevin Baastalk 23:45, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Maybe. But I think in general, it would be an improvement for you to spend more energy on improving articles and less on trying to figure out who screwed up where. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:48, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
oh but when i screw up i should certainly like to know. and when something bothers me i should much rather politely say so then just bottle it up or be crass about it. anycase i don't have much of an idea on who screwed up what nor do i care as long as everyone's being honest and fair and decent. i just want to find ways in which we can make the content better, preferably with as little squablling as possible. Kevin Baastalk 01:19, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
(afters 2nd paragraph was added) please stop refering to me in the third person. i am right here. it is rather transparent and impolite. there are areas where the articles have improved in accessibility and there are areas hwere they have gotten worse. and i do with all my heart hope that the people who are giving accessibility and the like short shrift and responding most obstinately at the suggestion that there might be a better way are precisely the ones who take these things MOST to heart. for anything less would be a rather hopeless state of affairs. perhaps i'm being too optimistic; perhaps i am putting a little to much faith in people here. i could be. but its certainly more productive then constantly ridiculoius, attacking, and diminishing the honest and selfless concerns of a "original poster". Kevin Baastalk 22:51, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
For the record "OP" stands for both "opening post" and "original poster". Its use is well established netiquette, and can not really be regarded as impolite.TimothyRias (talk) 22:57, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
it is not the term that is polite or impolite but the way in which it is used. that is well established etiquette'. Kevin Baastalk 22:59, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
It seems as though I am one of the people that you are unhappy at for using the designation "OP". I can assure I meant no harm, nor was I attempting to be mysterious, I simply meant to use it as a completely standard way of referring to the person who started the topic. I was referring to you in the third person because, as the "@WhatamIdoing" at the beginning of my post indicates, I was responding to User:WhatamIdoing. RobHar (talk) 23:11, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. :) you make some good points, robhar. i still think we might benefit from some kind of more formal effort in this regard. maybe like forming on open "team" that focuses on one article at a time. in the same matter as "article improvement drives", it could be more along the lines of accessibility and "friendliness" improvement. Kevin Baastalk 23:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
oh, and by "coherent", what i mean is, well i guess that kind of ties into accessibility, but it's more to do with the order in which ideas are presented rather than the language used and such. articles sometimes seems a bit fragmented to the unacquainted and can sometimes be made more pedagogical. so that's what i meant. probably not the best word choice, best i could think of at the time. Kevin Baastalk 23:42, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) I was going to point you to Wikipedia:Mathematics Collaboration of the Month, but it looks like you're already aware of it. It's been dead for a couple of years now though, and it's unclear whether it would survive if reanimated. You do raise an interesting variant: a collaboration of the month that wouldn't necessarily attempt to add material (i.e. depth) to an article, but try to make an article more accessible. That could have appeal, I dunno. One problem is that it's easier to add depth to any article than to make it more accessible: most mathematical sources deal with the raw facts and spend little time on accessible narrative. Though for some of the more basic topics, this would be easier. Are there specific articles that you think would be good articles with which to begin such a project? RobHar (talk) 23:52, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
good question. let me think on that. in general i would think it would make sense to start from more elementary and go up. or if some people find articles that they think particlarly opaque, provided the content isn't too esoteric to begin with... how did collaboration of the month do it? Kevin Baastalk 00:34, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
For COTM, people just nominated articles and at the end of the month the article with the most votes became the COTM (if it had at least 3 votes). I think there was a discussion on the talk page of that project containing suggestions on how to improve the process. Still give some thought to some first examples of articles and if they work out that could get the ball rolling. RobHar (talk) 02:34, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Rob, I'm willing to agree that Kevin has failed to win friends and influence people, but in my experience, the presentation wouldn't have affected the outcome.
If you want to change my mind, then I invite you to provide me with links in WP:MATH's archives that prove the existence of brilliantly helpful, or at least sympathetic, responses to this kind of general complaint. I can supply you with links to more examples of the defensive, insulting, and self-justifying responses that we saw today, but that doesn't sound very uplifting. Can you provide good examples of discussions that show this group (and not merely one editor) responding helpfully and kindly to criticism about unnecessarily obscure content? WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:47, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't think I claimed that there were cases of sympathetic responses to general complaints. On the other hand, I don't remember any reactions as adverse as the current one. RobHar (talk) 02:28, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. One of the people at wikiquette alerts seems to think i'm full of s**t. I am done talking to him. Kevin Baastalk 02:42, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Examples in the form of this talk page complaint at a specific article leading to this improvement to the article are not hard to find. Examples of a constructive response to someone coming to the project talk page and telling us our articles are all bad without telling us which articles he's talking about are likely to be rarer, though. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:57, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm saying -- and i thought i already made this clear -- that we should do some thing(s) more systematic. the FAQ recently posted is a good example. Kevin Baastalk 02:20, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Could you give some examples of unnecessarily obscure content? The only link I saw above was to exterior algebra, which is an obscure topic to begin with. It's a graduate-level topic, not covered in the typical undergraduate curriculum except possibly at the very strongest universities. But that article does not seem particularly obscure to me, and I am neither a geometer nor an algebraist, and only have a basic graduate background in those areas. So I'm not sure whether the criticism is simply that we have articles on graduate-level topics – I consider that a strength, not a weakness. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:57, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
The other thing that makes the complaint hard to understand is that Wikipedia is well-regarded in academic math circles as a basic reference. Many mathematicians I know use it as a way to check basic definitions in fields they aren't familiar with. I have seen talks where the speaker actually quotes definitions from Wikipedia (although that would be unlikely in an actual paper). So, without more detail, it's hard to understand a vague claim that Wikipedia is not a good reference for mathematics topics. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:00, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Well there's the misunderstanding right there. i didn't say it wasn't a good reference. i thought i already cleared this up. i said some of the articles could use some more pedagogical prose (to say it differently). which is something altogether different. the back pages of a calculus book is a good reference, but it doesn't tell you anything about what anything really means, visually. Kevin Baastalk 02:20, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
We have to avoid most pedagogical prose because it violates WP:NOR (and WP:NOT). Being a textbook isn't our mission, we just try to be a reference. I generally don't remove mild OR when I see it, unless it's far over the line, but at the same time it's not something that careful editors are going to add. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:22, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
yeah, it's a tricky issue. i believe wp:nor makes exceptions for trivial things and a lot of stuff, esp. at more basic levels, are quite trivial. there is a balance and it's i think further in the prose direction than a lot of people think. we don't try to be a reference, we try to be an encyclopedia. big difference (and i know an encyclopedia is a type of reference, that's not what i mean). in order to do that we have to be descriptive and prosiac, just like other encyclopedias are (maybe briticannica or comptons or something is a better example than wolfram). otherwise we're not really doing our job. that's all i'm saying. i understand the difficulties. i didn't really think it's that strict where we can't do a good job at it. Kevin Baastalk 02:32, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
On one hand, exterior algebra is not something at a "more basic level". On the other hand, we already far exceed Britannica in our coverage. For example, try to find any coverage of group theory there – and that's taught to virtually every pure mathematics undergrad. Using Britannica as a mathematics reference after high school is essentially impossible.
On another hand, we can't hope to write textbook style presentations, complete with many original examples, pedagogical remarks, exercises, etc. Personally, I don't see that exterior algebra as particularly, bad; the first paragraph is accessible to anyone with half an undergraduate degree, and it has a lengthy "examples" section. It's not an elementary topic, and there are no low-level books on it. It's unrealistic to expect Wikipedia, which has absurdly high restrictions on sourcing, to write low-level articles on topics for which the only references are at the graduate level. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:44, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

is hard to do

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree with the OP that the maths articles do let WP down. I've a maths-physics background, and the maths articles fall below the physics articles in clarity, IMO. Some are good, but a lot are really bad in that they don't communicate the concepts to all audiences. They look like they are written by PhDs for PhDs. A good article can communicate on many levels, explaining the concepts at an elementary level and more advanced levels. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 10:52, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

What is the "elementary level" of exterior algebra? We don't have a goal of writing popularizations of topics like that – it would be silly to try to write that article in a way accessible to an 8th grader. These topics are primarily of interest to people at the graduate and advanced undergraduate level, and it's perfectly appropriate to write articles that are aimed at such an audience, rather than trying to address some nebulous concept of "all audiences". On the other hand, articles like addition are written in a much more accessible way, as they should be.
As Charles Matthews and I have pointed out, Wikipedia is used very frequently as a reference by practicing mathematicians. I value that much more than I value the ability of a random 8th grader to read exterior algebra. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:15, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, there is some truth to the statement that a significant share of our articles can and should be more accessible, without really sacrificing much in the way of usability as a serious reference work. But obviously the issue of making articles accessible is one of priorities. There are only so many people who regularly edit Wikipedia mathematics articles, and still fewer that are talented enough as expositors to be able to make any topic accessible for a general audience. Naturally, we are going to prioritize which articles that we attempt to improve for a general audience. No amount of shouting at us is going to change the fact that there are few of us and so many articles. Moreover, a discussion that begins on the premise that all of our mathematics articles are inaccessible, and that project members don't care, can be quite frustrating to the actual project members who, by and large, do care about such things, and are already quite well aware of the issue. Secondly, many of us (yourself included) believe that it is better to have an article on a mathematics topic than to be silent on that topic, even if that article is pitched primarily at research mathematicians. A perhaps unfortunate result of this point of view though is that we do have many mathematics articles that are pitched at too high a level. But we also have many times more mathematics articles then there are physics articles. Our coverage of mathematics is much more comprehensive than physics, and that seems to be a good thing. Sławomir Biały (talk) 13:39, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I completely agree. In addition I don't really that MathWorld or PlanetMath are necessarily better or more accessible in most cases. MathWorld often simply does not cover many of the more abstract subjects, i.e. the "greater Acessibility" is often achieved by simply not covering the subject. On more basic subjects, WP articles are usually as accessible as those on MathWorld, but in addition often more comprehensive and detailed. PlanetMath has many articles being not particularly accessible at all and on average it is hardly easier than WP. Not mentioned so far was Springer's Encyclopaedia of Mathematics being probably the "most distinguished" of our online competitors and it is clearly less accessible (as their primary audience are professional mathematicians).--Kmhkmh (talk) 14:00, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure on what you base that there are many times more mathematics articles, than physics articles. At best there is a factor of 2 more mathematics articles than physics articles (approx. 25,000 vs. 12,500). However, most of those are stubs, if you only count articles rated beyond the stub level, than there are more physics articles than mathematics articles (approx. 8,500 vs. 6,000). In all, I would say that the number of physics and mathematics articles are of the same order of magnitude.
I'm not sure what this says about either of the projects. WP physics, has it own set of problems (such as a much higher crackpot-to-expert ratio) and has its own set of almost completely unreadable articles. The general problem is that writing accessible articles about inherently technical articles is a lot of work, especially within the bounds of Wikipedia policy (especially WP:V, particularly WP:OR and WP:SYNTH). It is much easier to write technical articles at the same level of technicality as most of the sources used, and as a result a lot of articles that are written on these subjects are hard to read without a lot of background knowledge. This is still better than having no articles at all, in fact, having technically complete and correct articles is necessary as a first step for making them accessible.TimothyRias (talk) 14:56, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I was looking at List of physics articles under the impression that it was maintained in a manner similar to our List of mathematics articles. But it's now clear that this is not the case. Consider me rebuked ;-) Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:07, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Exterior algebra is one of the best math articles in wikipedia, thanks largely to the efforts of "S. Rabbit" in the past, and more recently other editors including Biały. Tkuvho (talk) 13:46, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Really? Then why does it contain zero sentences that a non-expert can understand? Why doesn't it begin with some very basic sentence, like "Exterior algebra is a complex type of linear algebra used for areas and volumes, rather than lines" (assuming that I've made any sense at all out of the article, which I honestly doubt)?
Does your definition of "best math article" include only a calculation of the benefit to experts, with no thought to the need to make technical articles accessible? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:40, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
The page exterior algebra typifies what I wrote about the hierarchical structure of mathematics. Just as a reader will not understand vector spaces until he is thoroughly familiar with examples such as Euclidean spaces, spaces of polynomials, etc., so also exterior algebra presupposes thorough familiarity with determinants and rank. You are correct to point out that the lead does not make this clear. I made a note to that effect. Tkuvho (talk) 17:05, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Your change is not helpful. Telling people "we don't expect you to understand any of this unless you've spent years studying these other subjects" does not solve the problem.
Valid solutions give the non-expert reader at least an idea of what the subject is about. Non-experts don't need to understand every detail, but they should leave the first paragraph with a basic idea of what the subject is. Saying "I don't expect mere mortals like you to understand anything on this page" is not giving the reader a basic idea of exterior algebra.
To put it another way: I can explain basic algebra equations to a child who knows how to count, but not how to add or multiply. Surely all you smart people can figure out how to tell people who have studied far more mathematics than the typical four year old what exterior algebra is—unless, of course, you're more interested in showing off how "smart" you are than in writing an encyclopedia. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:22, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
And we have figured out how to explain it to people with a basic background in college mathematics. The first paragraph of that article takes it down pretty much as simply as it's going to go. There is already a substantial introductory section explaining the connection to vector calculus. If this isn't good enough, then I don't see what the target audience could possible be. Four year olds? Seriously? Sławomir Biały (talk) 18:45, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Your theory: "we have figured out how to explain it to people with a basic background in college mathematics."
My data: I am one of those "people with a basic background in college mathematics". I don't understand the article, or even the first paragraph.
If your audience is "people with a basic background in college mathematics" (a perfectly reasonable target, IMO) then you are not reaching your audience. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:47, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'm sorry that your education apparently omitted important topics like the cross product, areas and volumes (calculus) and rank and linear independence (linear algebra). It is not unreasonable to expect readers of this article to have a solid foundation in these ideas and there are constraints on what can be covered in the lead. I think we've done the best we can, based on experience teaching this subject to math/physics/engineering students. If there is a roadmap to writing a better lead for this article, I would happily look it over. But I haven't seen better. If my best isn't "good enough" then I might as well leave Wilipedia. Obviously my continuations are neither necessary nor appreciated. Sławomir Biały (talk) 21:37, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
A few comments here. Wikipedia incorporates elements of general and specialized encyclopedias (pillar one), so there is nothing wrong with adding advanced content. In this regard I think it is fair to say that the current state of the article mentioned targets more an undergrad student – even though it should be possible to understand the first paragraph with background in college mathematics. The question that comes to mind is how much does it make sense to "dumb down" an advanced topic? I can imagine the Motivating examples section to be simplified by being more informal, avoiding mention of undergrad topics like a basis, and so on, but what does it give? Still, you will require undergrad math knowledge to apprehend its usage. Just a question... (Besides, thanks to all the contributors for this extensive survey on the subject.) Nageh (talk) 22:38, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
(e/c) I think you underestimate the difficulty of explaining these advanced topics! I read pop math books from time to time, and they sometimes have ingenious ways of explaining a small part of modern mathematics to a high-school level audience. But most people, including Wikipedia editors, lack the ability to navigate so many levels, and many topics simply can't be explained that way at all. Even the authors of those books spend long periods trying different approaches to simplify the exposition; the average Wikipedia editor isn't willing (if indeed able) to spend 20 months pondering a single article as an author would with a book.
You may be one of the special people with this gift, in which case I encourage you to use it! But in the large majority of math articles it is the difficulty of explaining it rather than a failing on the part of the editors. (There are exceptions -- for a long time, and to some extent at present, wheel sieve was needlessly complex, to give but one example.)
I very much support the quest to make articles approachable for a wide audience -- but truly, there is 'no royal road'.
CRGreathouse (t | c) 19:00, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I know that it's hard. IMO it is actually the hardest topic area in all of Wikipedia. The fact that it's hard does not change the fact that it needs to be done. These responses of "you're just too ignorant to understand anything at all about this subject" also don't solve the problem. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:47, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I have added substantially to the lead of the exterior algebra article. So much that now I think we are really breaking WP:LEAD. Is this the sort of thing you had in mind? Sławomir Biały (talk) 00:36, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

I can understand why people think it makes sense to compare physics and mathematics, but in reality it can only lead to false comparisons. The basic language of physics involves electrons, atoms, forces, time, energy, etc. In other words, (for the most part) it involves concepts that are taught to high school students. Other than that, the term "quantum" is an element of pop culture, and the concepts of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian are a step away from energy. Hell, kids even use the term "force field"; not totally accurately mind you, but still. The basic language of mathematics involves functions, topological spaces, groups, invariants, manifolds, graphs, rings, vector spaces, R-modules, categories, etc. While some of these are introduced at a high school or undergraduate, many of them are graduate topics. This makes it inherently more difficult to provide down-to-earth explanations on many wiki math articles. Take for example one of the biggest mathematical proofs of the recent past: Wiles' proof of Fermat. Luckily, you can fairly easily say a bunch of things about Fermat's Last Theorem; however, you'd be hard pressed to give a down-to-earth explanation of what the modularity theorem even says. Anyway, that's a bit of my rant. RobHar (talk) 16:02, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Greetings Kevin, You have made an excellent observation and contribution to the discussion for this group. I have read your user page, and I am impressed by the time and thought you have put into NPOV. Please take a look at User:Gregbard/Mathematosis which is content that members of this group actively suppressed, and was moved from Wikipedia:MMSS to user space. It is no surprise to me that you have appropriately brought this important issue to the attention of the proper community, and have gotten a negative response from several of them. The prevailing attitude is represented by CBM (who is a wonderful and reasonable editor to discuss things with, however is still guilty of having this attitude that it isn't important at all for non-mathematicians to be able to understand mathematics articles in Wikipedia --a position he has stated in this discussion). Most of the active members couldn't care less if articles are only intelligible by themselves and their mathematician buddies. They are territorial and hostile to any interdisciplinary treatment of topics which might lend a great deal of clarity to non-mathematicians. As a note to the group, this poster Kevin has made a good faith report to this group for a need for improvement which the group has heretofore failed to achieve. His observation is valuable, as criticism is how we improve. Do not take this opportunity to dismiss him. Put away your arrogance, and adopt the humble position that he is speaking to an valid issue on behalf of the reading audience. Show some respect.Greg Bard (talk) 21:17, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

I think people should note that there was "no royal road to mathematics" when Alexander the Great asked for one; and there was considerably less mathematics in his day. While it is clearly the case that exposition of mathematical topics can be improved in some ways, those who insist that advanced topics can in some sense be made less advanced by cosmetic changes are simply barking up the wrong tree. Charles Matthews (talk) 22:09, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Charles, consistent with your Alexander quote, an interdisciplinary treatment is the solution. In many cases, especially in the logic department, the solution is to provide the contemporary account given by analytic philosophers of mathematics. The entire project of analytic philosophy is clarification. When members of the group here are hostile to incorporating this kind of scholarship because they "don't see the need" or think it is "POV pushing" or simply disagree that it helps to clarify, with respect, they really are just demonstrating their own ignorance.Greg Bard (talk) 00:55, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
rofl CRGreathouse (t | c) 01:05, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
[23], nuff said Dmcq (talk) 12:12, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm still awaiting outside input at exterior algebra. In light of some of the comments made here, I have completely rewritten the lead of the article. However, since the issues were never clearly identified (beyond a general lack of understanding), it is difficult to determine if I have hit the right mark. It does seem at the very least that those complaining loudly about its original inaccessibility should offer there feedback on the revision. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:30, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Being that I have a PhD in math, I seem to have to recuse myself from commenting on the accessibility of what you've written, I will therefore comment on the other side of the issue. Maybe first off, the first sentence is supposed to contain the word "Exterior algebra", otherwise perhaps this article should be moved to "Exterior product". Of course, starting this article with two paragraphs on exterior products is, I presume, simply trying to make the article accessible without being "allowed" to simply use a wikilink to "Exterior product" (which I've always thought should be its own article, I rarely use the exterior algebra, but often use various exterior products). Secondly, I realize that providing an overview of a subject will require hand-waving and white lies, but I generally look for a way to use language that gets across the same point, but technically manages to avoid lying. What I'm talking about is the current repeated use of the term "geometric space". As a mathematician, I read this, naturally, as "Euclidean space" (or "inner product space"), but the inner product is completely unneccessary for defining the exterior product. I think this could lead to confusion for someone who has the background/mathematical maturity to read this article, but doesn't yet know its contents. Perhaps using the word "Euclidean vector" instead of vector, and initially mentioning that the exterior product can be defined on any abstract vector space. I'm leaving these comments here because I think that they hint at some of the counterpoint issues in the current talk of accessibility. RobHar (talk) 15:58, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I have added a link to vector space, since that is what the more sophisticated readers should have in mind. It's true that we also assume a Euclidean structure in this paragraph of the lead, but I have recently added a footnote that hopefully clarifies that as well. Sławomir Biały (talk) 16:13, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Yup, the footnote works well. RobHar (talk) 16:24, 20 January 2011 (UTC)


I have been inspired by the above discussion to start an FAQ. It's currently visible at the top of this page. Anyone who wants to edit it is free to do so; it's at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics/FAQ. Ozob (talk) 01:35, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

noticed the new FAQ. awesome. thanks, Ozob. well written. Kevin Baastalk 01:37, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Well done Ozob. Probably something we've needed for a long time. Paul August 13:53, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
Great job. Will save a lot of ink in the long run, too. Tkuvho (talk) 14:02, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

"Law and medicine"

The first answer in the FAQ likened the difficult of mathematics articles to those in "law and medicine". User:WhatamIdoing has recently visited WP:MED and WP:LAW attempting to get them to say that their concepts can be made accessible; see WT:MED#Advanced topics and WT:LAW#On making technical articles accessible. By and large the folks at WP:MED were of the opinion that most of their material could be explained to the layman, though to me they didn't sound particularly enthusiastic. WhatamIdoing Anthonyhcole has used this as justification for removing "and medicine" from the FAQ answer, and I am sure he hopes to do the same for "law". I've replaced "medicine" with "medical science" since that seems to me to be closer to the actual consensus in that thread.

I'm starting this thread in the interest of centralizing discussion. I'll shortly be posting to the Law and Medicine WikiProjects directing them here. Ozob (talk) 12:37, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Whatamidoing did not edit the FAQ. [24] --Anthonyhcole (talk) 13:34, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
My apologies; I stand corrected. Ozob (talk) 21:58, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Praise for the new lead at Exterior algebra

I am totally impressed with the huge improvements to the lead at Exterior algebra. I finally understand what the subject is, and why anyone should care about it. (It's the biggest tool for certain purposes! It provides complete, precise, unambiguous definitions instead of just vague descriptions! It's sometimes convenient! It has desirable properties! It's useful! It's compatible with some other things!)

In terms of practical feedback:

The subject is advanced so the material is naturally dense, and I read the lead slowly, trying to reactivate some rather rusty neurons. The occasional parenthetical comment (e.g., the degrees add (like multiplication of polynomials)) helped me connect the current subject to some basic but apparently rusty concepts (going from "The degrees add?!" to "Oh, he means the degrees add! How could I have forgotten!"). It's still not going to be accessible to someone at the pre-algebra level and that's okay. I think it's going to be accessible to someone who has studied vectors past the introduction-to-physics level.

The lead makes judicious use of occasional "needless verbosity" as a way of introducing unfamiliar terms. For example, it says The exterior product of two vectors u and v, denoted by u ∧ v, lives in a space called the exterior square, rather than The exterior product of two vectors u and v, denoted by u ∧ v, lives in the exterior square. The difference from the perspective of the non-expert is that the chosen construction says "Now you know what we call this bit, and that's all you need to know about that for now" rather than "Here's another bit of jargon to prove that you don't know what we're talking about!" I found this so effective that I plan to adopt this strategy for other technical subjects.

The newly added image helped me check my understanding of the first paragraph.

In the end, I felt like I understood the main point of every single sentence, at least to a first approximation—well enough, in fact, to confidently identify and fix a minor typo that the spilling chucker missed, without wondering if perhaps this was some strange new mathematical concept.

I'm enormously happy about the new third paragraph, which contains most of the "What's it useful for" and "What field is it studied in" answers. (The short answers to those two questions are "Lots of things" and "Several", and as a result, I know why this article is a high priority on this project's WP:1.0 assessments.)

This is such a wonderful bit of work. Thank you to all who helped, directly and indirectly. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:24, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

I think that new lede has some good material, but it is far too verbose for the lede section of an article. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:20, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree that it is long—three paragraphs of ten sentences each—but I don't think that it is too long. Instead, I think it is just about as long as necessary. Except for possibly the parenthetical description of differential forms, I'm not sure what could be cut without failing to identify the subject and its importance to the reader.
One reason that I think its length is appropriate is because it's really introducing two closely related subjects: Exterior algebra is also the article for Exterior product. So you've got ten sentences on each of two 'subjects', and ten sentences that apply more or less to both 'subjects'. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:29, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Ono partition proof

Ono et. al. have recently published a paper which is getting a lot of hype. If someone can work on Partition (number theory) in preparation for that would probably be good. The paper deals with congruences and a new closed-form formula (I've only skimmed it so far); we should, in particular, work on Partition (number theory)#Congruences if at all possible. At the moment that section directly contradicts itself.

CRGreathouse (t | c) 00:15, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Although I did Maths up to it being a subsidiary subject at first-year university level, I've forgotten most of it, although I do like to try to get a vague grasp of concepts as I come across them (see, for example, the above discussion about Lyapunov vectors). So I can heartily commend and congratulate that article for including a diagram which, more than thousands of words could do, gives the outside reader a rough idea of what's going on. Excellent. Any chance of a few more articles doing likewise? If diagrams are tricky, then use a real world example if possible: "Imagine this scene 'X' ... aspect 'Y' is described by mathematical concept 'Z'." (I realise this really may not be possible in various cases, but I'm sure it must be in some, as per Lyapunov vectors.) In short, could articles, where possible, attempt to teach a non-mathematician? Thanks. Feline Hymnic (talk) 09:52, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Mathematics is abstract by nature and it is often difficult to come up with a diagram which illustrates a concepts in any meaningful way. But I'm sure there are quite a few math articles where a diagram would very helpful, and others where the existing diagram(s) could be improved. I believe Template:Reqdiagram can be added to an article to request a diagram and add it to the corresponding category, but I don't know if we have a way of sorting out just the math articles from the list. Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics/Graphics has some links to the Wikipedia:Requested pictures page but the indicated sections don't seem to exist.--RDBury (talk) 23:32, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
There is a list here for future reference. It's mainly for photos but diagrams seem to be included as well.--RDBury (talk) 18:09, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Someone should split that list into mathematicians and mathematics articles. I'm sure that should be easy for the bot to do. Sławomir Biały (talk) 20:46, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

There are places where diagrams would help. But even when you can sketch a diagram in a few seconds on the back of an envelope, it may take two hours, or eight hours, to create something that can be uploaded. Michael Hardy (talk) 16:57, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

In many cases, I think that even a less than perfect diagram is better than none at all. And overall I heartily agree that many of our articles could use more illustrations. A useful first task, per above, would be to organize a list of articles needing images, although realistically the list should be fairly long. Sławomir Biały (talk) 20:46, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree. In drafts of papers it's routine to sketch a diagram on paper and scan it in as a placeholder. Similarly, once in a computer science article I encountered a diagram that was apparently drawn by mouse using MS Paint. These lo-fi diagrams not only are better than no diagram, but also strongly encourage the production of a higher-quality one. Dcoetzee 22:50, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Although I've tended to emphasise pictures, diagrams, etc. to help the outsider get a finger-hold on a concept, another really valuable way to do this is a "motivating example". For instance, many years ago I couldn't see any point to the vector cross product. "Why bother?", I thought. "Completely perpendicular to the usual vector plane? Crazy!", I thought. But in another isolated compartment of my poor little brain was already squirrelled away the right-hand rule for electro-magnetic induction. Then in one physics lesson about electromagnetism, the lecturer said, almost as a throw-away, "...and we can express this mathematically as a vector-cross product." And the light went on: "Yes, at last, I get it!". So, if reasonably possible, could articles have some sort of "motivating example" near the top? Feline Hymnic (talk) 12:38, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Here's some more support for the principle that putting examples early in the article is good pedagogy. —David Eppstein (talk) 17:21, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I recommend GeoGebra as an excellent package for creating mathematical graphics. It's not so good with colours, but you can export any pic you generate as a PNG and use Paint or something to colour areas in. --Matt Westwood 12:54, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
PNG and more generally bitmap graphics are inappropriate for most mathematical illustrations. We should be using vector formats such as SVG. —David Eppstein (talk) 17:22, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Drive-by reverts at Midy's

Midy's theorem is being enriched by unsourced material. Tkuvho (talk) 04:05, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

The article said:
If the period of the decimal representation of a/p is 2n, so that
\frac{a}{p}=0.\overline{a_1a_2a_3\dots a_na_{n+1}\dots a_{2n}}
Does "so that" make sense? I.e. if the denominator is a prime other than 2 or 5 and the numerator is less than the denominator, is it necessary that the repetend begins immediately after the decimal point? If so, I think the article should mention that, and so should the one titled repeating decimal.
For now I've changed it so that it says this:
If the period of the decimal representation of a/p is 2n, and
\frac{a}{p}=0.\overline{a_1a_2a_3\dots a_na_{n+1}\dots a_{2n}}
Michael Hardy (talk) 22:58, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
You should be able to get the original WLOG. CRGreathouse (t | c) 20:47, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it is necessary that the repetition begins immediately after the decimal point. If 0<a<p and p is prime (but not a factor of the base), then remainder of the long division of a by p after ai is congruent mod p to a×10i. These remainders form a coset of a subgroup of the multiplicative group of Zp. Or you could just read the proof in the article carefully to see it.
Actually, this is covered in a more general way at Repeating decimal#Reciprocals of integers not co-prime to 10. Although that is only talking about fractions whose numerator is 1, it also applies to other numerators co-prime to the denominator. JRSpriggs (talk) 06:07, 21 January 2011 (UTC)
Please see Talk:Repeating decimal#Why does repetition begins where it does?. JRSpriggs (talk) 09:05, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Hadamard's maximal determinant problem

Hadamard's maximal determinant problem is a quasi-orphan (in the article space, one "article" and one list link to it (and I shouldn't have to tell you which list)). Try to figure out which other articles should link to it, and add the links. Michael Hardy (talk) 18:14, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Tangent half-angle formula

Tangent half-angle formula has long been a deficient article. It's not as bad as it was 30 minutes ago, but more work is needed.

The illustration would accompany a geometric proof fairly well, but it's badly titled, and also see my commented-out comment on it within the article.

I'm not sure the Weierstrass substitution should be mentioned other than very tersely. There's a main-article link for that. Michael Hardy (talk) 02:45, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Mathematical economics: Shapley-Folkman, Chichilnisky, & Mas-Colell

In the last 3 days, User:David Eppstein created articles on the mathematical economists Andreu Mas-Colell and Graciela Chichilnisky (yesterday).

Chichilnisky's continuous social choice theory may interest topologists, especially; her work on international trade, development, and environmental economics has received international attention; further, she has received national attention in the USA because of a (now settled) sex-discrimination law-suit.

Also, another article started by David, the Shapley-Folkman lemma, received "Good Article" status today, thanks to the reviewing of User:Jakob.scholbach, who guided the needed revisions. Further editing, especially copy-editing, would be appreciated.

Best regards, Kiefer.Wolfowitz (talk) 22:54, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Did you know? for Chichilnisky, Mas-Colell, and Henry Mann

There is a new article on the algebraic/additive number theorist Henry Mann, who was also a statistician.

I nominated the 3 mathematical articles for DYK, and so I encourage mathematical-project editors to review the DYK facts. Thanks, Kiefer.Wolfowitz (talk) 02:18, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

What are the DYK facts? Please provide a link to where the proposed "facts" are? JRSpriggs (talk) 04:24, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
They're on T:TDYK while they await approval. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:56, 24 January 2011 (UTC)


A user at Talk:Exterior algebra asked me to define what I mean by "Bourbakism". As this is an important issue I am starting a thread here. As pertaining to the style of the pages here, particularly the ledes, what I am referring to is the idea that the latest fad in the foundations of mathematics is also the foundation of human thought and therefore should be the foundation of education. In the sixties, set theory was fashionable as a foundation. This foundationalist mentality therefore led to the New Math debacle in education. Concepts such as "naturality", "universal constructions", "equivalence of categories" are certainly appropriate on some math pages, but not most. Thus, understanding the naturality and universality of the exterior algebra is important in its applications in de Rham theory and building the exterior differential complex, etc. However, such concepts are basically a Bourbakist infestation when it comes to explaining basic concepts such as exterior algebra, and should be relegated to the last section of the page. I appreciate the effort that went into the upgrading of the page exterior algebra recently, but at the same time misguided educational principles should be checked. The elaboration of the "categorical" material has been accompanied by the deletion of material on simple-minded topics such as rank, minor, and cross product which can serve to connect the topic to the reader's previous experience. However, if you are Bourbakist, connecting to previous experience counts little when one is dealing with alleged foundations of human thought. Tkuvho (talk) 10:00, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Just as an aside, Bourbaki seminar publications did not use categorial approach to mathematical structures and instead developed them using sets with additional structure. This approach is still widely used today, and I like it. Now, as I said in the talk page on Exterior algebra, the concept of the largest algebra satisfying this or that property is intuitive, and no category theory was explicitly invoked. I think you're overreacting. P.S.: Set theory is the foundation of modern math, not just 'a fad'. — Kallikanzaridtalk 10:17, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

The discussion at Talk:Exterior algebra is quickly becoming tiresome and unproductive. A nutshell version is that Tkuvho feels that the lead of a mathematics article should not even attempt to summarize the more advanced parts of the article, because of accessibility concerns. Some outside comment is obviously needed. Sławomir Biały (talk) 14:07, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

The lead still contains some errors, partly due to the overemphasis on "universal constructions", as I pointed out at the said talk page. Outside comment will be welcome. Tkuvho (talk) 14:11, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
I can't see any, can you point them out? — Kallikanzaridtalk 15:08, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
See here. You are the one who acknowledged the error in an earlier edit on this (WPM) page! Tkuvho (talk) 15:13, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
It's just not relevant to what we're discussing. If you want, you can consider Euclidean space where vector fields can be (and are being) safely introduced as mappings to \mathbb{R}^n. The concept of vector and covector fields is just not as advanced as you picture it to be, and Slawomir correctly identified that even on an arbitrary manifolds such fields form a module so you can't even argue that the generalization from Euclidean space to manifolds is not straight-forward—it is! — Kallikanzaridtalk 16:22, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Considering that Bourbaki was founded in the 1930s, calling it a recent fad is a bit odd. And trying to tie in Bourbaki's stated wish to write an encyclopedic reference for contemporary mathematicians with the New Math is something of a slur; if you wish for more context read the introduction to Dieudonné's Infinitesimal Calculus; it was much more of a question of getting the French university examiners to consider whether undergraduate teaching should have some relevance to research topics. The excesses of American educators, post-Sputnik, are really only vaguely related. It is obviously the case that our treatments of graduate-level topics should reflect graduate-level textbooks. Those are a mixed bunch, but the "formalist" treatments will be in evidence in certain areas of higher algebraic content, and it is perfectly fine that our articles should reflect that to some extent. My impression is that the anti-algorithmic and "no pictures" prejudices of Bourbaki are now pretty much obsolete, so that heuristics on how you compute with the exterior algebra (say), and some geometrical interpretations, are appropriate. Also some history gives a chance to speak to why ideas were introduced in the first place, which usually helps. Charles Matthews (talk) 15:47, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

But in this case, the charge of Bourbakism can only refer to a parenthetical mention of the universal construction. The vociferous criticism of one particular user seems to be totally out of proportion to what actually appears in the text. Sławomir Biały (talk) 16:05, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Certainly the basic principle is that the choice of content should not be anyone's personal taste, but a reflection of a mainstream view. Charles Matthews (talk) 17:34, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

The last I heard the mainstream view was that college juniors are unfamiliar with either "functors" or "universal constructions". You may want to consult Talk:Exterior algebra where it just turned out that college juniors are intimately familiar with the idea of an unfree module. Tkuvho (talk) 17:41, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
Point me to the sentence in the lede that relies on that — Kallikanzaridtalk 17:51, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Comments like this and your recent edit to the new FAQ make me wonder if maybe WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and WP:POINT are getting to be increasingly relevant. Many of your comments suggest that you have not even read the lead (eg equivalence of categories, natural transformations, module coefficients—none of which even appear in the lead), and your comments here and elsewhere have demonstrated a propensity to read what others write very selectively as well. None of this seems to be headed in a constructive direction, largely because it doesn't seem to be focused on the actual text. Instead it seems to be about being "right" about some fine points of rigor. Sławomir Biały (talk) 17:54, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
I am perfectly prepared to stop this discussion if you find it aggravating. Tkuvho (talk) 18:06, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
It's not that it's aggravating, it's that it doesn't seem to be about the same article. Sławomir Biały (talk) 23:04, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

My one cent

I agree with posts I have seen elsewhere. I think the lead for Exterior algebra generally looks great. Thank you to all the editors who have worked on that text! ---My Core Competency is Competency (talk) 18:30, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

More eyes needed?

User:Gauravmisra del mentioned on his userpage last month that he was having trouble with the wiki-syntax necessary to add his Remarkable Discovery to the article on subtraction without borrowing. He subsequently went ahead and added it (I guess he figured it out?), so that's fine, I guess.

Problem is, I'm concerned about his description of this as a Discovery, which evokes Original Research. But this really isn't my field. I'm sure I could follow his step-by-step instructions if I tried, but I wouldn't be able to recognize whether this is something new and original or old and familiar (and his mention of the psychological side effects of ordinary subtraction seem... unusual, to say the least). Anyone care to have a look? DS (talk) 15:12, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

What's the template for speedy deletion of amateur's self-promotion? :) P.S.: The guy is probably a troll. But please do read, it will make your day! :D — Kallikanzaridtalk 15:46, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
My Google search for subtraction without borrowing reported 87,200 results.
Wavelength (talk) 17:10, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I put quotes round the phrase and got about 17000. I looked at the first and it said "skills include subtracting without borrowing, subtracting with borrowing", so it is obvious they mean a progression in skills where they first set problems where borrowing wasn't required. I guess most are like that. Anyway we should not be the first publishers of remarkable ideas. Dmcq (talk) 20:24, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
It is especially true because this 'remarkable idea' is more than 3000 years too late to be truly remarkable. — Kallikanzaridtalk 20:57, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
So it can't be related to this bit of New Math? :) Dmcq (talk) 21:25, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry that you Americans were so much traumatized by misguided attempts to rival our sheer awesomeness 8) — Kallikanzaridtalk 21:56, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
So... who wants to AfD this? Unless someone thinks it would survive a prod... I don't think it qualifies for a speedy. CRGreathouse (t | c) 21:05, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
By all means, proceed :) — Kallikanzaridtalk 21:56, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps redirect to Method of complements? --agr (talk) 22:16, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

Lede of Hermitian manifold: eyes needed

IMO the sentence about the connection almost complex structure has two errors:

  1. As pointed out in the talk page, almost complex structure preserves the metric, not the other way around,
  2. More importantly, this is almost Hermitian manifold, for Hermitian manifold you need complex structure, not just almost complex one.

I'm writing here because I don't think many people are watching that page :) — Kallikanzaridtalk 18:49, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

I changed the lede, please check for the correctness — Kallikanzaridtalk 18:35, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Prime number

Anyone willing to join me in making this article Good? I think prime numbers [c,sh]ould be a showpiece maths article, ranging from most elementary math's to jungles of unsolved conjectures and recent top-notch work. Everybody, please inscribe yourself here! Jakob.scholbach (talk) 23:17, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Australian Mathematical Society - a reliable source?

Is the Australian Mathematical Society ranking of mathematics journals a reliable source for list of mathematics journals? Opinions on that question are welcome at Talk:List_of_mathematics_journals#AustMS_journal_rankings. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:49, 28 January 2011 (UTC)