I want to suggest that there should be subtags named as a book of sources .

For example, assume we have a subtag named as "finite group theory by Martin Isaacs ".

By that way the questions asked by that book collected in same place which avoid duplicate of questions and make it easy to find asked question as we can numerate them as $3.b.1...$ e.t.c.

In times, by choosing best answers, we will have solution manual of many books.

But I do not know whether this is appropriate for this site or not.

What do you think about this? Can it be useful ?

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    $\begingroup$ Possibly a meta question, but a good question indeed! $\endgroup$ – DanZimm May 24 '14 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ That would make one subtag per book available in the wild and they would hopefully all be of a standard form "<title> (or <obvious short title>) by <author(s)>, edition <number or year>" ... ? $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen May 24 '14 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Note that tag-names are limited to 25 characters, so there's a technical limitation. (I guess we could use ISBNs as tag names, though this would make them somewhat less user-friendly.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 May 24 '14 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ This set of 33 questions makes me appreciate you idea. I am in favor of better titling, tagging, and referencing of book exercises instead. That being said, if a search for "Martin Isaacs" brought up 1000 questions I could see a (Martin Isaacs) tag being appropriate. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry May 24 '14 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think this has been discussed before. Personally, I dislike the idea. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber May 24 '14 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexanderGruber: Why do you dislike? because of etical reasons ? $\endgroup$ – mesel May 24 '14 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @AlexanderGruber. IMHO, questions on math.SE should be as independent of any particular source as possible. In particular, this means that one should not have to be familiar with (or have handy) any particular text to answer a question. Having such tags around would appear to go against this ideal, and so I cannot personally support. $\endgroup$ – user642796 May 24 '14 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer: According to J.W.Perry, there are already 1000 question related the "Martin Isaacs", do you really think it is completly independent from sources ? It may be possible that all question in the book of isaac's is already answered but nobody knows this. But if you say that, I am against of this beacuse of etical reasons, it is okey for me. $\endgroup$ – mesel May 24 '14 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @mesel: Please re-read J.W. Perry's comment. He says »if [emphasis added] a search for "Martin Isaacs" brought up 1000 questions....« As it stands only 19 questions mention Martin Isaacs. (His search includes a number of answers.) [cont...] $\endgroup$ – user642796 May 24 '14 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ [...inued] But this is beside the point. I feel that knowledge of any particular text should not be required to answer a question, meaning that questions should include enough information as to make them self-contained. I also feel that such tags would entitle users to post even more source-dependent questions than are being posted now (I am not so naive as to think that such source-dependent questions are not being posted and answered now). Further, this is not a path I want to see math.SE follow. This has little to do with ethical considerations. $\endgroup$ – user642796 May 24 '14 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ I will delete my question, sorry for stealing your precious time dear "Gurus". $\endgroup$ – mesel May 24 '14 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ I vote it to be closed, now it is your turn ! $\endgroup$ – mesel May 24 '14 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ @mesel, the discussion shows that the community is against it today. It doesn't mean the question is worthless $\endgroup$ – vonbrand May 24 '14 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ I am against this. Isaacs has written great books, but the askers should IMO take the trouble of writing out the exercises together with enough context. If this idea would catch on then we would soon have a significant fraction of the questions tagged with the book name only, and the question body consisting of a statement like "I don't get Exercise 4.16c". Yes we would close those, but where do we draw the line? It might spread like cancer. Wait until the entire tag is questions only in French, Russian, Finnish, whatnot. Let's just nip this in the bud. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen May 24 '14 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ What do you expect the tag to do that the text search cannot do? $\endgroup$ – Phira May 26 '14 at 23:36

No. IMO,

tags should be about the question, it's mathematical contents — and not about the asker, about circumstances where he seen the question etc.

(And if one needs to find all questions that mention Finite group theory by Martin Isaacs — full-text search works just fine.)


Not really much, in my opinion. Many books have very similar exercises, so we would indeed have a sea of substantially duplicate questions. You may argue that we could stick subtags corresponding to all books in which the same exercise is proposed. But only 5 tags are possibile. What if the same exercise was in 6 different books? The best thing remains to write question titles as more precisely as possible and to choose appropriate tags.

  • $\begingroup$ Notice that similar questions are not same. I did not say that we should put every books. $\endgroup$ – mesel May 24 '14 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Yep, those darn textbook authors copy exercises (and even theorems and proofs!) from each other. Shame on them! $\endgroup$ – vonbrand May 24 '14 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I was unclear. With "very similar" exercises I mean exercises that are different in some negligibile aspect. For example, is "substantially" the same thing two exercises, one asking to calculate $\int \, \frac{\mbox{d}x }{x^4 + 1}$ and the other $\int \, \frac{\mbox{d}x}{x^4 + 2}$. The first is taken from Apostol, Calculus (ex 23 in section 6.25), the second could be in any other textbook. Not all people uses Apostol. One looking for the other exercise could make a new pretty useless question with a probability that is not likely smaller than the current one. $\endgroup$ – user91126 May 24 '14 at 16:15

In Creating a solutions manual within a single math.SE question it was argued, persuasively I thought, that math.se was not well-suited for compiling a solutions manual.


I am not sure that it so trivial that "math.se was not well-suited for compiling a solutions manual" as @MJD says in his answer. I mean for sure the point of math.se is not to be a solution manual, but it tends slightly to become one, more and more. Hundreds and hundreds of questions are solving exercises from books, without quoting books through a tag.

I wouldn't want to have one tag for every book, of course, but tags for undeniably authoritative books (and their exercises) would be really useful. And the latter "exercises" does not mean I read the exercise, I post and tag it without any posted attempt to solve it. The post should contain an attempt to solve the exercise, and if the post concerns an authoritative book but not an exercise of it, and reasoning attempts to solve the issue the question is raising.

From a tag maintenance point of view, it is not more complicated than it "is" now, I think.


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