Maybe it could be called book-errata?

I cannot give many examples of discussions from math.SE offhand but at least one example from here https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/34641/find-limit-of-unknown-function

This is an example from a different forum: http://www.sosmath.com/CBB/viewtopic.php?p=181367

I guess questions (and answers) revealing mistakes in book will appear here occasionaly. (Perhaps even withou this being the original intent.)

A related (interesting) link: https://mathoverflow.net/questions/3038/errata-database/3040#3040

Although I have tag-creating privileges, I've never done this before and I wanted to ask about opinion of other members first.

EDIT: Here's a recent post of this type: Showing $\sum\limits^N_{n=1}\left(\prod\limits_{i=1}^n b_i \right)^\frac1{n}\le\sum\limits^N_{n=1}\left(\prod\limits_{i=1}^n a_i \right)^\frac1{n}$?

  • $\begingroup$ A small request: if you must bump questions for tagging purposes, then could you please try to do so when the front meta page is somewhat idle, and, if possible, one at a time. Your three latest edits pushed down some very important meta topics, which, imo, is quite poor timing. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 2 '14 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ In fact I only bumped one old question. One was bumped by user7530's answer and it was not very old (still on the front page). One of them was a new question. I suppose you are worried about this question; it has been bumped again. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 2 '14 at 19:10

No. Usually a better thing to do when finding a typo/error in a textbook is to notify the author and the publisher, so it could be corrected for the next printing. Some authors even maintain their own erratum on their own websites.

In addition: when a student comes here to ask a question, the last thing they will suspect is that the question, as posed in their textbook, is error-ridden. I sincerely doubt that this is a tag that can be usefully used by the question asker. (And it is a tag that is even less useful for the question answerer.)

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Willie -- I don't often disagree with you, but in this case I do :-). Please see my answer. $\endgroup$ – joriki Jul 21 '11 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ I think this could be a useful tag that's added after the question has been made, but not for the initial questioner. $\endgroup$ – OghmaOsiris Jul 21 '11 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that most of the users tend to agree with you. If we reach the consensus in this way, do you think linking to your answer would be good place to link in order to give the person who finds a typo/mistake what is the suggested procedure in such cases? Or would it be better to mention this in faq or make question/answer in meta with solely this purpose? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jul 23 '11 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ Linking to this, I think, is fine. Or you can just tell the user that sending a correction to the author/publisher is often the accepted thing to do. Putting this in the FAQ seems like it could be a good idea. In which case the way to go would be to post a question on Meta titled something like: "I've found an error in a book, what do I do?" and tag it (faq-proposed). After the users here hammer out the correct phrasing of the Q and A, I'll tag it as an official (faq) and add it to our collection of (faq) questions. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 23 '11 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that concensus is towards your anwer (no downvotes there). I have try to do what you've suggested here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/2658/… $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jul 25 '11 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ This is the third question I've come across within a couple of days or weeks now that explicitly asks whether there's a typo in a book. I think we can regard your theory that the last thing that students coming here to ask a question will suspect is an error as empirically falsified :-) $\endgroup$ – joriki Oct 26 '11 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @joriki: I think it is actually verified. The OP on that question is left with no other alternatives, so that the book has a misprint is in fact the very last thing the OP suspects, in complete accord with the Sherlock Holmes philosophy. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Oct 29 '11 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ :-) OK, I hereby officially reopen this question. Someone just posted a question entitled "Possible mistake in Krause's “Localization Theory”" and put a bounty on it -- what more has to happen? :-) $\endgroup$ – joriki Dec 10 '11 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ It's hard to imagine that Penrose will come out of retirement to correct math.stackexchange.com/questions/618366/…. $\endgroup$ – dfeuer Dec 26 '13 at 0:48

I disagree with Willie's answer. I found this post because I was going to make the same suggestion. We do get questions of the form "It says 'X' in this book, but that seems wrong and I think it should be 'Y'", and sometimes that turns out to be right -- here's one that I just answered Distinguishable painted prisms with six colors (repetition allowed). And even if the person asking isn't aware of this, it might turn out from the answer that there's an error in the book, e.g. Representation Functions. In that case, the errata tag could be added later. In either case, it seems like a useful category which, like "reference-request", marks the question as relating to the literature and only indirectly to mathematics itself.

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    $\begingroup$ I concede that it is a valid point of view, but I still believe that the comparison with reference-request is poor: reference-request is useful in that it frames the question to invite a certain type of answers; it is not a category that we impose on the question after the fact. In any case, since you just bumped this up, we can see what other people think/vote. Cheers. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 21 '11 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I guess it's clear enough what other people think/vote :-). Here's another erratum that just came up, BTW: math.stackexchange.com/questions/53155/… $\endgroup$ – joriki Jul 22 '11 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ I'd like to mention another point of view. We discussed whether this tag is useful for the poster nad whether it is useful for the answerer. What about "the seeker" - maybe someone can come here for the reason that he thinks that a claim in his book is not correct. He can either post a question or try to find a similar answer. Errata book might be useful in such case. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jul 23 '11 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ I agree.${}{}{}$ $\endgroup$ – joriki Jul 23 '11 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ But looking for 'errata' is pretty strange. I imagine most humans would search for the author name, the book title, and a few words in the statement in doubt... (just like no one searches —this is a guess, of course— for 'reference-request'!) $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jul 25 '11 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ That analogy doesn't really fit. You wouldn't search for a reference request because you have a reference request and you're looking for a reference, not a request. Whereas if you're stuck on an exercise from a book and you have a growing suspicion that it might be the book that's wrong, it would quite reasonable to search for errata for that book. $\endgroup$ – joriki Jul 25 '11 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Recently the tag (math-review) was created. I have collected the relevant information which I am aware of here. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 1 '15 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: That's great! I've been collecting bookmarks for a possible future "errata" tag on and off; I'll dig them out and this tag to them :-) $\endgroup$ – joriki Sep 1 '15 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ I should perhaps add that my guess is that the new tag might still be removed. (It has not been discussed on meta.) But we will see what happens. (Certainly, using the tag on questions where is fit might help other users aware of it. And if somebody is against the new tag, they will very probably make a post on meta.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 1 '15 at 16:31

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