# Questions tagged [sociology-of-math]

For questions about the interplay between mathematics and the social context in which it is done.

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### Is the number of "breakthroughs" in mathematics decreasing, as it is claimed to be in other sciences?

Is the number of "breakthroughs" in mathematics decreasing, as it is claimed to be in other sciences?
Background for the question:
Park, M., Leahey, E. & Funk, R.J. Papers and patents ...

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### How about a statement without proof?

Consider a statement without proof in a paper, with the following assumptions:
it is unknown,
it is unused in the paper,
it is not written as a theorem (or proposition, or lemma…), but just a free ...

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### Examples of discoveries that began on (maybe obscure) low impact journals but eventually climbed up to (the mainstream) high impact journals

Let me begin with a short introduction. We, professional mathematicians, know that there are many types of journals and sometimes feel that some of them are a bit of spam (it is even common to receive ...

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### Mathematical fictionalism

Have there been any successful mathematicians that also happen to be mathematical fictionalists? Let's say success is defined by at least one article published in a non-pay journal.
I ask because ...

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### Changes forced by the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our work-lives in ways few of us could have anticipated. These exceptional circumstances have forced each one of us and each one of our institutions to adapt, ...

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### How professional mathematicians deal with discouragement? [closed]

All professional mathematicians feel discouraged occasionally due to some issue.
My question is:
How do professional mathematicians deal with discouragement?
In this link , Andrew Wiles say ...

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### Do mathematicians use notebooks to keep their results these days? [closed]

Mathematicians work a lot and are usually inspired by many things. In their lifetimes they get to publish only portions of their results. There have been stories of how Gauss, Euler, Ramanujan, ...

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### Learning mathematics in an "independent and idiosyncratic" way

This is a question about learning mathematics outside of the standard undergraduate/graduate education.
The following is a quote from Thurston's On Proof and Progress in Mathematics:
My mathematical ...

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### Small ideas that became big

I am looking for ideas that began as small and maybe naïve or weak in some obscure and not very known paper, school or book but at some point in history turned into big powerful tools in research ...

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### Is it all right to invite a professor to cowrite a paper

I managed to improve the techniques of a year-old paper to get a significantly stronger result. I used original ideas, but a large part relies upon results of the original paper. (to the point that ...

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### What's "geometric algebra"?

Sometimes one bumps into the name "geometric algebra" (henceforth "GA"), in the sense of this Wikipedia article. Other names appear in that context such as "vector manifold", "pseudoscalar", and "...

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### Mathematicians with both “very abstract” and “very applied” achievements

Gödel had a cosmological model. Hamel, primarily a mechanician, gave any vector space a basis. Plücker, best known for line geometry, spent years on magnetism. What other mathematicians had so distant ...

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### Mathematical words outside of mathematics [closed]

We've all heard expressions like "We need to factor this into the equation," where mathematical words have broader meanings than strictly mathematical. I'd like to develop a collection of such usages. ...

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### Does a result remain known after everyone who knew it has died? [closed]

When working on a research project,
one tries to spend their time answering questions that have not yet been answered.
There enters the terminology of "known" versus "unknown" results,
which we ...

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### What is known about the common knowledge of mathematicians outside their field?

When giving a talk or writing a paper intended for non-specialist (i.e., mathematicians not specializing in the topic being discussed), the question inevitably occurs of what one can assume to be "...

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### Understand the publishing process time [closed]

Like a lot of beginner mathematicians (I guess), I'm worried about the publishing process time.
In order to better understand that, I have a series of small questions (answers expected in average).
...

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### How many quit mathematics because they (are afraid that they) can not find a permanent job?

I think it is an important question, which frequently appears in discussions. Do you know any surveys which approach it? What are the reasons for people with completed PhD in mathematics to quit it? ...

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### Mathematicians with aphantasia (inability to visualize things in one's mind)

Are there any mathematicians with aphantasia? If so, could they please elaborate upon what their experience with mathematics is like?
I realize that this question probably falls outside of the scope ...

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### What are some very important papers published in non-top journals?

There has already been a question about important papers that were initially rejected. Many of the answers were very interesting. The question is here.
My concern in this question is slightly ...

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### Publication rates in Mathematics

Have there been any studies of publication rates in Mathematics?
We are trying to construct a workload model for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at my institution. Part of this involves ...

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### How does a mathematician choose on which problem to work?

Main question:
How does a mathematician choose on which problem to work?
An example approach to framing one's answer:
What is a mathematical problem - big or small - that you solved or are ...

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### The unpublished papers in reference to the published papers

Sometimes it happens that a published paper refers to an unpublished paper for a result used.
In this case, if we want to check this result by ourselves, we need to access to this unpublished paper.
...

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### The Hidden Aspect of Set Theory [closed]

This question is inspired by a similar question at the beginning of Kunen's new book, "Set Theory".
Many mathematicians believe they are exploring a "real" universe. In such a Platonic point of view ...

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### Submitting lecture purposal to conferences. (lecture about a thesis) [closed]

I wish to consult with you about something: I have recently given a lecture about my master's Thesis in a local conference organized by my advisor. The subject had a lot to do with algebraic geometry ...

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### Math Annotate Platform?

Suppose most mathematical research papers were freely accessible online.
Suppose a well-organized platform existed where responsible users could write comments on any paper (linking to its doi, ...

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### Discovering and selecting conferences

Last summer, there were several excellent summer schools in my field that I learned of only after the application date. The events I did attend were chosen without too much care. I'm planning for the ...

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### Who uses keywords (and how)?

Almost all journals ask for keywords and most authors comply.
Does any math researcher out there actually use them to search? Are there mechanisms to do that?
I just wrote to someone that I assumed ...

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### When have we lost a body of mathematics because errors were found?

The history of mathematics over the last 200 years has many occasions when the fundamental assumptions of an area have been shown to be flawed, or even wrong. Yet I cannot think of any examples where, ...

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### Means of Promoting Mathematics in Young Countries!

We all know mathematics is life, this question is for Mankind. It's mathoverflow here when some parts of the world we have mathunderflow! I think we can do something through ideas. A similar ...

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### Unmathematical habits of thought and action which would be of use to mathematicians

In Question 74707, we ask what mathematical habits of thoughts are useful in other areas. It seems only fair to ask also what we can learn from them. It is also fair to ask what they should not learn ...

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### Mathematical habits of thought and action which would be of use to non-mathematicians

Once again I come to MO for help with something I'm writing for the public.
Which habits of mathematicians -- aspects of the way we approach problems, the way we argue, the way we function as a ...

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### Mathematical ideas named after places [closed]

This question is quite unimportant, so feel free to close if you think it is inappropriate.
I've been thinking about how mathematicians come up with names for the ideas/objects they study, and how ...

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### Webpages for specialized communities

First, my apology for this soft question. My excuse was that I really think this may be of interest to the community. I would understand if it gets closed (I have advocated closing some soft questions ...

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### In general... (convention in mathematical papers)

I often see in papers something like:
1) This is in general not true
or
2) This is not true in general
Which I personally would consider to be written formally as something like
1) $\forall x:...

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### Collaboration graph

Does anyone know a tool for drawing collaboratation graphs?
To be more specific, when you enter a new field (subfields) you would like to know who is who in this subfield which publications are ...

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### When and how is it appropriate for an undergraduate to email a professor out of the blue?

This may not be appropriate for MathOverflow, as I haven't seen precedent for this type of question. But the answer is certainly of interest to me, and (I think) would be of interest to many other ...

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### How connected are you? [closed]

I apologize if this question seems frivolous, but the motivation for it is quite serious.
When I encounter the endless topic of the 'relevance' of mathematics, I am rather
fond of referring to a ...

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### How do I fix someone's published error?

Paper A is in the literature, and has been for more than a decade.
An error is discovered in paper A and is substantial in that many
details are affected, although certain fundamental properties
...

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### Working in groups vs. alone: present vs. past

Why, at least as it seems to me, in past centuries mathematicians worked alone, while currently most of them work in pairs/groups? Reasons might be rooted in Mathematics, or Sociology, and so on..

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### Least collaborative mathematician

The recent question about the most prolific collaboration interested me. How about this question in the opposite direction, then: can anyone beat, amongst contemporary mathematicians, the example of ...

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### Which pair of mathematicians has the most joint papers?

I was searching on MathSciNet recently for a certain paper by two mathematicians. As I often do, I just typed in the names of the two authors, figuring that would give me a short enough list. My ...

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### Do actual Sudoku puzzles have a unique rational solution?

Here is a question in the intersection of mathematics and sociology. There is a standard way to encode a Sudoku puzzle as an integer programming problem. The problem has a 0-1-valued variable $a_{i,...

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### What proportion of math papers are collaborative?

In this 2005 Notices article, Jerold Grossman tracks the proportion of papers in Math Reviews with 1, 2, 3, and >3 authors over time. His data set ends in 1999. I seem to recall reading that in 200k,...