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MathOverflow is a mathematics question-and-answer (Q&A) website, which serves as an online community of mathematicians. It allows users to ask questions, submit answers, and rate both, all while getting merit points for their activities.[1] It is a part of the Stack Exchange Network, but distinct from math.stackexchange.com.

It is primarily for asking questions on mathematics research – i.e. related to unsolved problems and the extension of knowledge of mathematics into areas that are not yet known – and does not welcome requests from non-mathematicians for instruction, for example homework exercises. It does welcome various questions on other topics that might normally be discussed among mathematicians, for example about publishing, refereeing, advising, getting tenure, etc. It is generally inhospitable to questions perceived as tendentious or argumentative.[citation needed]

Origin and history[edit]

The website was started by Berkeley graduate students and postdocs Anton Geraschenko, David Zureick-Brown, and Scott Morrison on 28 September 2009.[2] The hosting was supported by Ravi Vakil.[3] The site originally ran on a separate installation of the StackExchange 1.0 software engine; on June 25, 2013, it was integrated in the regular Stack Exchange Network, running SE 2.0.[4]


According to MathOverflow FAQ, the proper spelling is "MathOverflow" rather than "Math Overflow".

Use of mathematical formulas[edit]

The original version of the website did not support LaTeX markup for mathematical formulas. To support most of the functionality of LaTeX, MathJax was added in order for the site to transform math equations into their appropriate forms. In its current state, any post including "Math Mode" (text between $'s) will translate into proper mathematical notation.


As of April 4, 2012, there were 16,496 registered users on MathOverflow,[5] most of whom were located in the United States (35%), India (12%), and the United Kingdom (6%). By December 11, 2018, the number of registered users had grown to 87,850.[6] As of June 2019, 123,448 questions have been posted.[7]

In 2011, questions were answered an average of 3.9 hours after they were posted, and "Acceptable" answers took an average of 5.01 hours.[8]


  • Terence Tao compared it to "the venerable newsgroup sci.math, but with more modern, 'Web 2.0' features."[9]
  • John C. Baez writes that "website 'Math Overflow' has become a universal clearinghouse for math questions".[10]
  • According to Gil Kalai, MathOverflow "is ran [sic] by an energetic and impressive group of very (very very) young people".[11]
  • Jordan Ellenberg comments that the website "offers a constantly changing array of new questions" and is "addictive" in a "particularly pure form", as he compares it to the Polymath Project.[12]
  • Jared Keller in The Atlantic writes, "Math Overflow is almost an anti-social network, focused solely on productively addressing the problems posed by its users." He quotes Scott Morrison saying "Mathematicians as a whole are surprisingly skeptical of many aspects of the modern Internet... In particular, things like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are viewed as enormous wastes of time."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lin, Thomas (January 16, 2012). "Cracking Open the Scientific Process". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 10, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Jared Keller (28 September 2010). "Beyond Facebook: How the World's Mathematicians Organize Online". The Atlantic.
  3. ^ Krieger, Lisa M. (August 8, 2010). "Stanford and UC Berkeley create massively collaborative math". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Christian Perfect (25 June 2013). "Math Overflow 2.0". The Aperiodical. Archived from the original on 1 July 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  5. ^ Official website
  6. ^ "Sharenator MO Statistics". Archived from the original on 2012-09-09.
  7. ^ "Newest Questions". MathOverflow. Archived from the original on 2021-03-25. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  8. ^ David Zureick-Brown (29 March 2011). "MathOverflow (presentation slides)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 January 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  9. ^ Terence Tao (20 October 2009). "Math Overflow". Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  10. ^ John C. Baez (March 2010). "Math Blogs" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. p. 333. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-05-08. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  11. ^ Gil Kalai (13 November 2009). "Math Overflow". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  12. ^ Jordan Ellenberg (17 October 2009). "Why Math Overflow works, and why it might not". Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tausczik, Yla R.; Kittur, Aniket; Kraut, Robert E. (2014). "Collaborative Problem Solving: A Study of MathOverflow". Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW '14), Baltimore, Maryland, USA. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 355–367. doi:10.1145/2531602.2531690. ISBN 978-1-4503-2540-0.
  • Montoya, Leydi Viviana; Ma, Athen; Mondragón, Raúl J. (2013). "Social Achievement and Centrality in MathOverflow". In Ghoshal, Gourab; Poncela-Casasnovas, Julia; Tolksdorf, Robert (eds.). Complex Networks IV: Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Complex Networks (CompleNet 2013). Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 27–38. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-36844-8_3.
  • Martin, Ursula; Pease, Alison (2013). "Mathematical Practice, Crowdsourcing, and Social Machines". In Carette, Jacques; Aspinall, David; Lange, Christoph; Sojka, Petr; Windsteiger, Wolfgang (eds.). Intelligent Computer Mathematics: MKM, Calculemus, DML, and Systems and Projects 2013, Held as Part of the International Conference on Intelligent Computer Mathematics (CICM 2013), Bath, UK, July 8-12, 2013, Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 7961. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 98–119. arXiv:1305.0900. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-39320-4_7.

External links[edit]