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Math The Internet

Massive Open Collaboration In Math Declared a Success 60

nanopolitan writes "In late January, Tim Gowers, a Fields Medal winner at Cambridge University, used his blog for an experiment in massive online collaboration for solving a significant problem in math — combinatorial proof of the density Hales-Jewett theorem. Some six weeks (and nearly 1000 comments) later, Gowers has declared the project a success, and some of the ideas have already been written up as a preprint."
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Massive Open Collaboration In Math Declared a Success

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  • halp! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:02PM (#27246605)

    Can someone explain this problem in terms that an engineering grad would understand?

    Also, what does the solution means in that framework? I kind of want to understand the why/how/what now...

  • List of authors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @04:09PM (#27246697)
    I am all in favor of this, as it allows people outside scientific communities to join in with a low barrier (that is, if you happen to be a math wizard). But is, and if so, how is he going to ensure that the right people will be mentioned as co-authors in the paper?
  • Re:Why now? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @05:23PM (#27247869)

    Well, given that as far as I can tell everyone involved was a research mathematician, that is, a professor of mathematics, and that it included a few Fields medalists, that is the equivalent of Nobel Prize winners in maths, I would say that for this problem slashdot noise would have been highly counterproductive.

    This is something for the cathedral, not the bazaar. That said he did mention intending to try to make the next problem more accessible.

  • Re:halp! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2009 @06:30PM (#27248827)

    Your first paragraph is wrong (of course they're trying to prove a theorem, one that asserts that parameters exist for which the result they want is true), the method isn't "simple enough" unless you're a Ph.D.-level expert in combinatorics, and the rest of your post is absolute nonsense. Linux doesn't have the same rigid structure as the combinatorial objects being studied, and even if it did the constants involved in this theorem would very quickly get much bigger than the number of modules or even lines of code in the Linux kernel.

    Exactly what is an "arc through a module" supposed to mean, anyway, and how does knowing the existence of a "buggy arc" give you even the slightest idea of where it is?

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