Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics

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WikiProject Mathematics
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Are Wikipedia's mathematics articles targeted at professional mathematicians?
No, we target our articles at an appropriate audience. Usually this is an interested layman. However, this is not always possible. Some advanced topics require substantial mathematical background to understand. This is no different from other specialized fields such as law and medical science. If you believe that an article is too advanced, please leave a detailed comment on the article's talk page. If you understand the article and believe you can make it simpler, you are also welcome to improve it, in the framework of the BOLD, revert, discuss cycle.
Why is it so difficult to learn mathematics from Wikipedia articles?
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a textbook. Wikipedia articles are not supposed to be pedagogic treatments of their topics. Readers who are interested in learning a subject should consult a textbook listed in the article's references. If the article does not have references, ask for some on the article's talk page or at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Mathematics. Wikipedia's sister projects Wikibooks which hosts textbooks, and Wikiversity which hosts collaborative learning projects, may be additional resources to consider.
See also: Using Wikipedia for mathematics self-study
Why are Wikipedia mathematics articles so abstract?
Abstraction is a fundamental part of mathematics. Even the concept of a number is an abstraction. Comprehensive articles may be forced to use abstract language because that language is the only language available to give a correct and thorough description of their topic. Because of this, some parts of some articles may not be accessible to readers without a lot of mathematical background. If you believe that an article is overly abstract, then please leave a detailed comment on the talk page. If you can provide a more down-to-earth exposition, then you are welcome to add that to the article.
Why don't Wikipedia's mathematics articles define or link all of the terms they use?
Sometimes editors leave out definitions or links that they believe will distract the reader. If you believe that a mathematics article would be more clear with an additional definition or link, please add to the article. If you are not able to do so yourself, ask for assistance on the article's talk page.
Why don't many mathematics articles start with a definition?
We try to make mathematics articles as accessible to the largest likely audience as possible. In order to achieve this, often an intuitive explanation of something precedes a rigorous definition. The first few paragraphs of an article (called the lead) are supposed to provide an accessible summary of the article appropriate to the target audience. Depending on the target audience, it may or may not be appropriate to include any formal details in the lead, and these are often put into a dedicated section of the article. If you believe that the article would benefit from having more formal details in the lead, please add them or discuss the matter on the article's talk page.
Why don't mathematics articles include lists of prerequisites?
A well-written article should establish its context well enough that it does not need a separate list of prerequisites. Furthermore, directly addressing the reader breaks Wikipedia's encyclopedic tone. If you are unable to determine an article's context and prerequisites, please ask for help on the talk page.
Why are Wikipedia's mathematics articles so hard to read?
We strive to make our articles comprehensive, technically correct and easy to read. Sometimes it is difficult to achieve all three. If you have trouble understanding an article, please post a specific question on the article's talk page.
Why don't math pages rely more on helpful YouTube videos and media coverage of mathematical issues?
Mathematical content of YouTube videos is often unreliable (though some may be useful for pedagogical purposes rather than as references). Media reports are typically sensationalistic. This is why they are generally avoided.
Why is wikipedia lagging behind the rest of the world in not creating an article on τ (2π)?
The notability of τ=2π is not yet established. Neither the mathematics community nor the math education community has responded to the proposed new constant in any notable way. τ=2π does not at this point of time meet the criteria of notability as per Notability or Wikipedia:Notability (numbers). See also Turn (geometry)#Tau proposal.

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Geometrization[edit]

The article titled Classification of manifolds says some manifolds are geometrizable and some are not, and the article titled Geometrization conjecture seems to suggest that that means a manifold admits a "geometric structure". The concept is not defined in either article, and Geometric structure redirects to an article in which that term appears once, without a definition, and the word geometrizable occurs twice, also without a definition. Can someone put a definition at some appropriate place in those articles? Michael Hardy (talk) 17:38, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

Isn't it (almost) defined in "Geometrization conjecture#The eight Thurston geometries" (plus the previous text)? Boris Tsirelson (talk) 22:50, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
Should the page Geometric structure be a disambiguation page? Th eredirect to differentiable manifold is certainly not acceptable, and I feel many mathematical concepts can qualify as describing some kind of geometric structure, and none of them is quite general enough to be a redirect. For example, a few that are relevant to the above discussion are :
* (G,X)-structure ;
* model geometries as described in Geometrization conjecture#The eight Thurston geometries ;
* Riemannian manifolds.
That might mean disambiguating a few links here and there but this seems much better than the current situation. jraimbau (talk) 09:14, 1 November 2019 (UTC)
Book "Differential Geometric Structures" by Walter A. Poor, 2007; annotation: Useful for independent study and as a reference work, this introduction to differential geometry features many examples and exercises. It defines geometric structure by specifying the parallel transport in an appropriate fiber bundle, focusing on the simplest cases of linear parallel transport in a vector bundle.
The treatment opens with an introductory chapter on fiber bundles that proceeds to examinations of connection theory for vector bundles and Riemannian vector bundles. Additional topics include the role of harmonic theory, geometric vector fields on Riemannian manifolds, Lie groups, symmetric spaces, and symplectic and Hermitian vector bundles. A consideration of other differential geometric structures concludes the text, including surveys of characteristic classes of principal bundles, Cartan connections, and spin structures.
Also Sect.2 in lectures Geometric structures by Werner Ballmann.
Also Terry Tao about Shing-Tung Yau, “What is a Geometric Structure”. Boris Tsirelson (talk) 10:26, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

User:Math-drafts[edit]

This is an announcement that I have created an alternative account of mine: User:Math-drafts to move some of old drafts in the [[Draft:]] namespace to the subpages of that user page. While I am in control of the account, the draft pages in that user page are meant to belong to the community and all the editors should feel free to edit them as fit (including moving to mainspace or even deleting them). This alternative account itself will never make an edit.

Please let me know if there is any issue. —- Taku (talk) 09:14, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

By "issue", I mean this. WP:NOTWEBHOST is a policy and, because of the technical nature, I need the project's help to ensure that I am not using Wikipedia as my personal web host. -- Taku (talk) 22:54, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. NOTWEBHOST is mostly about disallowing significant non-encyclopedic uses of WP wiki pages. Because all the pages under User:Math-drafts are for the explicit purpose of community development of potentially long-term draft articles and the improvement of the encyclopedia, I don't see there being any problem with that policy. --{{u|Mark viking}} {Talk} 23:57, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Unfortunately, NOTWEBHOST is not the concern we are allowed to summarily dismiss; see User_talk:TakuyaMurata#Suggestion. So, I really need to ask the project to ensure there is absolutely no violation of this policy (which has a very severe consequences). -- Taku (talk) 00:41, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
Any sufficiency advanced math draft pages are indistinguishable from spammy scientific personal notes. So, this project has to been in charge of that policy not being violated (as non-math editors cannot do the task); not only for drafts started by me. —- Taku (talk) 02:07, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
I concur with Mark viking here. Highly technical drafts can take a while to develop; they benefit from being available for multiple math-inclined people to work on. Keeping them somewhere that isn't attached to a specific person's name is good for that. XOR'easter (talk) 15:29, 9 November 2019 (UTC)

Infinity article lead, technical correctness vs common language[edit]

Can someone else take a look at the lead of Infinity? It's gone through several changes recently and it's a balancing act between being technically correct and being common language. I suppose I lean farther towards being technically correct than towards using common language, since I think that the common language surrounding "infinity" is often be misleading (e.g. "it cannot be counted or measured even in principle").

More eyes are always welcome. — MarkH21 (talk) 23:28, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

I have edited the article before reading this thread. The begin of the disputed sentence is "In common language". Here is my edit summary which summarizes wle my opinion: This is about common language. It is therefore nonsensical to try introducing mathematical accuracy. "Number" without link would be fine except that it may be confusing for people knowing of infinite numbers. So I put "common number", but I will be fine if "common" is removed. On the other hand, I am strongly against linking. D.Lazard (talk) 23:40, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
An idea: for everyday usage, can we just follow dictionaries (if not urban dictionary)? Trying to come up with a *right* definition is a bit of original research after all. -- Taku (talk) 23:58, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree with both D.Lazard and TakuyaMurata. Paul August 00:19, 8 November 2019 (UTC)


I guess my feeling is that we don't write encyclopedia articles to document "common language", and I have a general dislike of sourcing Wikipedia content from dictionaries, which I feel usually misses the point. Dictionaries, like encyclopedias, are tertiary sources, and we should be using primarily secondary sources.
The "larger than any common number" language is -- better than some other possibilities, but not ideal. What's a "common" number? Is that a precise notion? Isn't, say, Graham's number larger than any "common" number? The "larger than any natural number" language at least had the advantage of being meaningful and correct for just about any mathematical notion of infinity I can think of.
Which brings me to maybe the more difficult point, which is deciding what exactly the infinity article is supposed to be about. Right now there's a division between infinity and infinity (philosophy), which I suppose means that infinity itself is supposed to be about mathematics (and possibly natural science). To me this is a slightly artificial division; the proximate cause of the biggest philosophical disputes within mathematics has almost always been related to the treatment of infinity. I would support a merge of these articles, and that might change my view of the lead sentence, though I have no good candidate language for such a sentence. --Trovatore (talk) 02:57, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
I think it would be best if this discussion were to continue on Talk:Infinity, where there is a related discussion. Paul August 12:00, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

A math template at TfD[edit]

Folks here may be interested in the discussion at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2019 November 10#Template:Mabs. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 19:19, 10 November 2019 (UTC)

Notability/sourceability?[edit]

For your consideration: the new article Dubner's conjecture. The Dubner in question is Harvey Dubner, the subject of an old (2007) but weakly referenced biography. Do appropriate sources exist? --JBL (talk) 16:18, 17 November 2019 (UTC)

Hmm. I'm not finding anything that suggests people other than Dubner worked on this conjecture. XOR'easter (talk) 16:53, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
Still not turning up anything of substance; the closest is the Delahaye item already linked in the article, which is a pop-science story that has a sidebar on "la nouvelle conjecture de Dubner". Just for fun — I did find an old NYT piece that appears to mention Dubner himself. XOR'easter (talk) 20:44, 17 November 2019 (UTC)
Fun find. I think it's plausible that Dubner could be notable (though I was disappointed not to find a substantive obituary anywhere, so maybe not). The conjecture (in J. Recreational Math) seems much less likely. --JBL (talk) 13:37, 18 November 2019 (UTC)

MR numbers not rendering properly in citation templates[edit]

See discussion at Help talk:Citation Style 1#MR numbers not rendering properly. —David Eppstein (talk) 07:10, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

Please comment. This will also likely affect {{MR}}. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:14, 21 November 2019 (UTC)