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Most questions tagged are usually flagged as being more appropriate on Phys.S.E.

Is this right? (The reason I'm bringing this up is because I flagged a question a short while ago.)

Also, the mathematical-physics tag is used very often as a "synonym" of the physics tag. I would like to consider the following two tag wikis:

: Questions related to mathematical physics which include application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories

: "Mathematical physics consists of the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories." (from Journal of Mathematical Physics) This tag is intended for questions on methods used e.g. in quantum mechanics or general relativity at an advanced undergraduate or graduate level.

The tag wikis are basically ignored in multiple questions, and this is sometimes troublesome for me. What does one do with such questions?

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    $\begingroup$ It does seem strange to me that we have both a physics and mathematical-physics tag. Surely all on-topic questions involving physics here are mathematical? $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker Mar 27 '14 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ "Mathematical physics" is the word many physicists use for theoretical physics, in contrast to computational or experimental physics. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Mar 27 '14 at 4:36
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    $\begingroup$ It might be the case that many physics questions are migrated/flagged for migration to physics.SE, however not all questions tagged physics are appropriate for physics.SE.since they have a much more strict policy regarding homework questions. This might account for the over 50% migration rejection rate when math.SE users send questions to physics.SE. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 27 '14 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ Some history of these two tags: They were merged at some point and then later unmerged again, see here. Willie Wong can probably say more about that, if needed. (He was the mod who took those actions.) There is also this post, but as it is 3 years old and the site has evolved since then, I would not consider it relevant. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 27 '14 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ You wrote: The tag wikis are basically ignored in multiple questions, and this is sometimes troublesome for me. What does one do with such questions? Well, if you see an incorrectly tagged question, you should retag it. (And, if you have time, you can also leave some comment for the OP explaining why the tags were incorrect.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 27 '14 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, the links above led me on an interesting digression which I include here. We really should take some time to study how physics.SE engaged in experimentation with regards to closing "homework questions." They seem to have approached the problem differently: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5488/… $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Mar 27 '14 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ They actually made an experiment of setting the community loose for a week letting individuals make closures as they saw fit on homework questions, while moderators stood on the sidelines to observe. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Mar 27 '14 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ But to get back on topic, it's hard to make these calls. Some questions could just have all their references to physics redacted, and you would just arrive at an algebra-precalculus problem. But if the original question were involved in deriving that equation, that would require knowledge of physics to establish. The physicists are probably best qualified to explain such thinking, but if they frequently reject such questions, it would be a shame to leave these students in the lurch. The problem seems not to have a definitive answer, but thankfully itdoes not seem very destructive, either. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Mar 27 '14 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ Remark: Much of what is said here might also apply to tags such as classical-mechanics. $\endgroup$ – ccorn Mar 27 '14 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ I see the situation as somewhat similar to the situation of elementary-set-theory and set-theory, or elementary-number-theory and number-theory. One of the things done better for those two pairs is that they have very precise distinctions drawn up within the tag wiki allowing us to really say: "no, you are using the tags wrong". I think the final part of the wiki for mathematical-physics is a step in the right direction, but it is hard for me to draw a clear line. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 28 '14 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ (Another thing going for the set-theory questions is that they are constantly under the vigilant patrol of Asaf K. For the physics/math-physics distinction I catch the occasional ones, but I certainly do not read the tag religiously.) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 28 '14 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ Being trained as a physicist, the tag wikis for mathematical physics doesn't sound right. If I want to distinguish the two tags. I will say: Physics = Using mathematics to study physical problem. Mathematical physics = Studying of mathematical problems originated/inspired from physics. $\endgroup$ – achille hui Apr 26 '14 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ @achillehui That's a good interpretation. The tag wiki was taken from the Journal of Mathematical Physics, and so is considered to be the current definition of mathematical physics. $\endgroup$ – user122283 Apr 26 '14 at 13:50
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WillieWong wishes me to pass on this message: (he can't post it himself right now)

Concerning the two tags physics and math-physics, I merged them a long time ago, but undid the merge at the request of the user t.b.. The justification is that there are two types of mathematical problems concerning physics, one is questions strictly about mathematics which happen to be used for physics problems, the other is about what would be considered modern mathematical physics (see Reed and Simon; largely concerns analysis of linear operators, especially spectral theory.) I apologize if the distinction is not very clear: t.b. managed to explain much better than I just did. Our conversation about this perhaps still survives in one of the tag merge threads.

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    $\begingroup$ The conversation to which Willie refers can be found in the comments to this post. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 27 '14 at 17:59

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