*The letter below is written by my son. I have been sending him text books and looking for answers on the internet to keep his interest up. He has progressed so far on his own and now he needs direction and assistance from a professional in mathematics. Any advice or assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.*

My name is ---, I'm 25, I've been in prison for the past 6 years, and I'm self-taught in mathematics. I began with a list of courses required in a standard undergraduate curriculum and studied the required texts from each course. I covered the basics in this way before branching off into my own interests, beginning with partial differential equations and eventually landing in scattering theory.

I began studying mathematics because it was fun and interesting (and passed the time), but it has since become so much more. The progress that I've made, combined with the observation that I am capable of at least understanding research in my fields of interest, has compelled me to take the next step into conducting research of my own, and my current goal is to make advances of publishable value. I am just beginning in this process, yet already I have made progress studying scattering resonances. At the moment, I'm working on a number of problems related to resonance counting. In particular, my primary focus is on "inverse resonance counting": By assuming an asymptotic formula for the resonance counting function (as well as some other results concerning distribution), my goal is to determine properties of the potential. Similarly, in the case of a surface with hyperbolic ends, the goal is to determine properties of the surface from knowledge of an exact asymptotic formula for the counting function. My primary resources at present are Mathematical Theory of Scattering Resonances by Dyatlov and Zworski, and Spectral Theory of Infinite-Area Hyperbolic Surfaces by Borthwick.

I'm not sure what I'm asking for here, I just know that I am ready for the next step and seek some guidance as I enter the world of research mathematics. I encounter many problems when it comes to research, such as staying up to date on current topics, finding open problems which suit my skills and interests, and finding papers on topics I need to study more deeply. For example, right now I am in need of results on how resonances change under smooth, small changes in the potential. One of my texts mentioned the paper of P. D. Stefanov, Stability of Resonances Under Smooth Perturbations of the Boundary (1994), but I need more, and that paper makes no citation to papers of the same content. How do I find papers which are similar, or even cite this one?

In short, without direct access to the internet or fellow researchers, I hit many roadblocks which are not math-related, and that can be frustrating. I'm looking for ways to make my unconventional research process go a little more smoothly. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know here.

And thanks in advance.

7more comments