I'm working together with PlanetMath contributor Raymond Puzio on a proposal that would improve the PlanetMath platform, making it useful for remixing contents from math.stackexchange.com and other places around the web to produce mathematics textbooks -- for use on PlanetMath, and for export to places like Wikibooks. I thought this would be of interest to the community here, and I invite your feedback on the proposal, as well as your endorsement (if you feel so inclined). Any comments prior to the Sept. 30, 2013 deadline will be particularly useful!

I'm particularly interested in any policy-level implications or ramifications. You use the same license here as we do on PlanetMath, so that won't be an issue, but if there are other things we need to be aware of (e.g. related to crawling the site) please advise.

  • $\begingroup$ (Link to corresponding meta.mathoverflow thread) $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2013 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ I recall writing about something like that some year and a half ago, but I cannot find the thread. Not a legal issue, but an issue of etiquette where I would expect people to ask my permission before doing something like that, even if they don't have to ask for it. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 28, 2013 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, here we go. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/5075/… (my aforementioned writing is in the comments). I also want to note that such enterprise certainly makes me want to post most hints rather than full and elaborated answers. I just don't like the idea of my answers here ending up in a book somewhere without extensive editing first. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 28, 2013 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Hm... maybe we should be discussing this at meta.meta.math.stackexchange.com... $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2013 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ Luckily the meta operator is idempotent, so meta.meta.math.SE is just meta.math.SE :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 30, 2013 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila The way I understand this project, the result would not be a real book. It provides simply a possibility to make a collection of several posts into one file. Similarly as on Wikipedia, where it is possible to make a collection of articles into something like a book, see Wikipedia:Books. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2013 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin: "...to produce mathematics textbooks". That doesn't sound much like collating a few posts together. It sounds a lot more than that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 1, 2013 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ The work would progress in a couple steps. First, assembling content automatically. Second, editing by hand (or semi-automatically) to produce something that looks and feels like a normal textbook. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2013 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


First I agree completely with Asaf's comments. As a practical matter if you wish to write a decent mathematics book a staggering amount of editing will need to be done. Of course Guiness with provide the stagger. Assuring consistent definitions and notation throughout will require plenty of work. Also there are probably important areas that have not been addressed. Almost surely I am ignorant of what automated processors can do. It seems to me that this method is better suited for books like Must See in Italy.

  • $\begingroup$ This is the benefit of the approach we have in mind - using encyclopedia content to handle the definitions part, and using SXE content for examples. A first pass would just link the encyclopedia articles to SXE Q&A (and perhaps vice versa). The editing phase is certainly bound to be more intensive -- but less work, and more interesting, than writing a book from scratch, I'd imagine :-) $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2013 at 14:24

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