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Does it exist online and where can one find it? (For example, these two sources are not official; is the longer one complete?)

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As far as I know, this column has only been around for about 10 years and appears in every issue. So exhaustive search should be feasible if you really need a complete list. – Nate Eldredge Feb 4 '14 at 14:59
Actually, I asked this to avoid visiting every internet page of every month of the Notices... I'd like to have a set of links/addresses on one single page. :) – Qfwfq Feb 4 '14 at 15:32
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It seems they made a list in the meantime:

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Assuming you have access to MathSciNet, a search for Title containing "What is" and Journal containing "Notices" seems to work pretty well.

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I wrote to Allyn Jackson, who is in charge of this feature. I reproduce her response below with her permission.

I can indeed answer this, and unfortunately the answer is no. Embarassingly, we don't have an online index for the WHAT IS column. The Notices web site is rather primitive, and there is no natural place to put such a list. We are hoping to do an upgrade soon, and this would include a WHAT IS index.

I knew about the list of WHAT IS columns at Cornell, but I didn't know about the other one at I have my own list that I use in editing the column, and, like arminstraub, I have column #106 as Heil's "What is a frame?" So it seems to me that the arminstraub list is complete, but I did not check every title against my own list. The last column in my list is #110, so arminstraub is missing the 4 latest columns.

It is gratifying to know that there are some serious WHAT IS fans out there. Comments and suggestions are welcome and can be sent to

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