Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.com

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Will-Jagy
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Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.com

Post by Will-Jagy » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:15 am

Hello,
I just figured out that this discussion section was here. Then I managed to register.
Today there were two questions from Project Euler ( or PE, until I learn the preferred shorthand) posted on Math Overflow, http://mathoverflow.net/questions/82024 ... d-d-closed and http://mathoverflow.net/questions/82021 ... res-closed which were, actually the same PE question, number 360, but by two different anonymous users.
MO is a site for mathematics professors and those who will soon be professors, see http://mathoverflow.net/faq.
I felt that it was inappropriate for PE participants to, well, cheat, by posting on MO. So I also started a discussion thread, http://meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion ... questions/ One of the people posting placed a short apology there while I was typing this...
The one missing ingredient is that I found no way to email Colin Hughes. My request, other than clarifying language here at PE, would be for a PE founder to post a statement at the MO/Meta thread I mention (requires registration also), or perhaps email me something, including a section that I would be given permission to post. One may view that Meta thread without registering.
My take on MO politics is that people there may be satisfied that the two questions were closed fairly quickly.
Thank you for your patience.
Will
William C. Jagy
http://mathoverflow.net/users/3324/will-jagy
http://math.stackexchange.com/users/10400/will-jagy
In case the host computer is ever repaired,
http://zakuski.math.utsa.edu/~jagy
http://zakuski.math.utsa.edu/~kap/forms.html

Duality
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by Duality » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:56 am

I might refer you to threads like these (which can be found with Google):

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=2483
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2493
http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/ques ... -questions

To get a feel for Colin's view (and others) on such matters.

Will-Jagy
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by Will-Jagy » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:53 am

Maybe this will work.

Thank you for the links. The "Poll" on whether one has cheated was actually the first one I noticed as relevant. Then I decided not to post a new thread in that section, as I did not know how to start a poll.

I also received a reply from James Somers, who wrote the recent article on Project Euler in The Atlantic. The sense I am getting is of a fairly mild wish to discourage people from asking elsewhere without trying themselves, along with a wish to not have public repositories of complete solutions. Somers mentioned that the discussion of answers is locked, accessible only to those who have already answered the question themselves.

I would add, as a mathematician, my wish that people not ask others how to accomplish a task for a huge number (I believe 10^10 is used in problem number 360) until they are quite certain they have solved it for the numbers 1 through 10.

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hk
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by hk » Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:15 am

@Will-Jaggy

I think you handled the situation well. Thanks.
However, I find it embarrassing that the people that asked the questions there within about 24 hours after the problem was published started to let others "do their homework".
Nobody asks you to solve Project Euler problems, so you are trying to solve them out of your own free will.
If they'd had the guts to do some investigations themselves they would certainly have phrased their questions quite differently or not at all. Besides there have been quite a few earlier problems in which they could have discovered some basic knowledge about the sum_of_squares function (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/SumofSquaresFunction.html) and the Brahmagupta_Fibonacci identities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmagupt ... i_identity#)

I'm not going to register on Mathoverflow or Stackoverflow to vent my point of view, but I think it a form of bad manners to pester others with problems you are too lazy to do the proper investigations yourself for.
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rbharvs
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by rbharvs » Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:29 pm

I do not think that it is unreasonable for someone to ask that sort of question. Obviously the people who posted the question were aware of the sum of squares function and were somewhat aware of the Brahmagupta–Fibonacci function. They had made several realizations before asking the question. The answers that were given on the site didn't "solve the problem" for them. For example, one answer given on MathOverflow simply gave an example of how you would apply the Brahmagupta-Fibonacci identity in this situation. That is not solving the problem for them but it is answering the asker's question. Clearly since the question asked was relevant to a very recent question this is a little bit less acceptable than asking about say P150.

All in all, I really don't see a problem with this. Each person on Project Euler solves each problem with a different level of dependency on internet sources and their own intelligence. The main thing is that Project Euler is about both math and computer programming. So even if the asker got a complete answer from someone they've only solved half the problem. I think one of the greatest aspects of Project Euler is that it is self-driven. There is less satisfaction from solving half the problem than there is from solving the whole thing with no help at all. It is on the solver to determine how much help he allows himself, not on the creators of the site. Everyone has their own view on how to go about solving the problems whether they be a professor, an enthusiast, a college student, or a high school student.

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hk
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by hk » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:02 pm

rbharvs wrote:It is on the solver to determine how much help he allows himself, not on the creators of the site.
However, the creators have a strong opinion on those that start pestering others to solve their problems and I hope I made that opinion clear enough.
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Will-Jagy
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by Will-Jagy » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:06 pm

Dear hk,
Thank you for your reply.
I note that both the students(?) involved continue to justify their initial decision. The user DP, on Meta,
Not everyone learns best by being tossed into a shark tank and told to learn to swim (Will Jagy, rather dismissively, told me to "read some books" and yet would not tell me which books I should read, when further inquired).

As it happens, Scott Morrison had locked that thread, so a list of books was not going to appear in any case. There is also a problem with demanding a list of sources that will teach a person about only a very narrow topic and nothing else. Other than that, there are plenty of elementary number theory books. I also am disappointed that your youngsters are not running experiments on easier sub-problems, in this case answering problem 360 for smaller target numbers, 10 rather than 10^10. If one is unwilling to read up on a subject, surely those on Project Euler ought to be encouraged to do computational experiments.
Both your students qualify for a colloquial English term, "Entitled." They are quite sure that other people owe them a fast start on these problems, while also making it clear that they refuse to learn the surrounding material that someone in my position would automatically include.
DP also had an explanation for hiding the fact that these were assigned problems,
The reason why I did not immediately "attribute" PE in my post (although I did in 000's post, by referring to it as "PE") is because I didn't want it showing up on search engines so easily (some people complain about PE solutions/spoilers being too easy to find when people conduct Google searches).

As far as I am concerned, this is self-serving rationalization. Both your participants knew exactly what they were doing. From MO's Gerry Myerson,
ProjectEuler doesn't seem to have any rules (and, please, someone correct me if I'm wrong), but posting here a problem from there (or any other source) without attribution is an act of academic dishonesty. Voting to close. – Gerry Myerson 22 hours ago

rbharvs
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by rbharvs » Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:24 pm

hk wrote:However, the creators have a strong opinion on those that start pestering others to solve their problems and I hope I made that opinion clear enough.
You absolutely have and clearly the point of the matter is that mathoverflow.net was not the appropriate place to post these questions.

@Will-Jagy
Your point is well made. But it should also be made clear that nearly all people who solve Project Euler problems are there for their own pleasure, not for a homework assignment. These problems were by no means "assigned." With that in mind, I would like to restate my point above which was that people garner varying amounts of satisfaction from the problems depending on their level of effort with the problem. I can't speak for everyone, but I am here to learn and sometimes the way to learn is to have someone to show you how to do it if you're stuck. That way, in the future you will be more prepared for harder things to come. To make a bit of an analogy, some elementary school kids, regardless of how eager to learn they are will not learn how to do long division unless shown. Once they are shown, they will be prepared to use their knowledge to move on to harder concepts. Granted, as hk said, there were easier problems dealing with the Sum of Squares function and I would venture to guess that DP did not solve those first. The biggest takeaway here is that mathoverflow.net is not the place to be asking questions that relate to Project Euler.

Will-Jagy
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by Will-Jagy » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:38 am

Dear hk,
I have probably done all I needed to do in public, and you did not wish to post on MO Meta (I paraphrased your comments there). Should you wish to vent some more, I would be interested in hearing more about this. My address is probably visible to you, if not search with my last name at http://www.ams.org/cml

Will Jagy

Denver
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Re: Questions posted on Math Overflow or math.stackexchange.

Post by Denver » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:21 pm

Math is essential for every steps of life. Every steps means Education, business, job, and in daily life. Without math facts human life is totally paralyzed. Everybody should be expert in math.

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