I was reading the Princeton Companion of Mathematics compiled by Tim Gowers and team and a thought stuck me.

What we if produced a compilation book of the most interesting problems solved in Math Stackexchange?

Assuming that we agree upon a definition of interesting problems solved here and a time period say all questions posted on be before 31-Dec-2016, the main question is would such a compilation be anything more useful in the form of a book rather than having them math.stackexchange.com. Other than the love of labour, is there any motivation to produce such a book?

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    $\begingroup$ For a starting point, see Is selling a compilation of Math Stackexchange Q&As legal? and the many comments and links below it. $\endgroup$
    – dxiv
    Jan 15, 2017 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ See at least this. IOW you are not the first. Personally I don't think it is a good idea. I agree with Mark Bennet's answer to that question. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2017 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ From the post linked by @dxiv you already know that some such compilations already exist. However, it seems that you suggest something slightly different - since that question concerns compilation made by one person you are asking about a collaborative effort. There are several past discussion about compiling some text from Math.SE posts Compiling an introductory..., Could we make a book with MSE answers?, For/Against: Collective Math.SE Textbook $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2017 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ And about selection of most interesting problems from some time period, there were some related discussions too: Is it possible for this site to get some sort of “best of” feature to compile classic answers? or Proposal for promoting more interesting, deeper questions. The same user who made this post also made a post to collect interesting stuff from 2nd Quarter of 2013 (now deleted). $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2017 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ And probably this relatively recent discussion is also related: Mathematics Documentation : would it be useful/possible? (beta test launched on StackOverflow, July 21st) $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2017 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ I have a particular idea of ​​how will be this Mathematics Stack Exchange in the future. I thought in the past that it would be a good idea to have an academic compilation of the best problems of university level by subject. For humanitarian reasons or solitariness with other people who do not have resources, or have limited resources, to access the university. But also because I have a vision, a vision of what could be this site MSE in the future, quite academic. $\endgroup$
    – user243301
    Jan 15, 2017 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ Well, we could perhaps create a collection of various methods used to solve problems within certain categories on math stack exchange. Maybe if not the actual questions, perhaps cite the questions and say what it shows from that question for that subject. I honestly wonder what one would derive with no prior knowledge just by reading questions and answers on here. For instance, could one truly learn integral methods from the context of specific problems here? Of course, that's absurd. It just sounds like an intriguing concept to attempt. $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ Books are best put together by a single, or a small group of authors/editors. Doing this as a community effort sounds like an organizatory nightmare with a lot of arguing about which Q&As should be in and which should not. $\endgroup$
    – Winther
    Jan 24, 2017 at 5:11

2 Answers 2


Problem with that is that someone will have to edit it -- there are just so many redundancies, incorrect or incomplete proofs, comments about nothing etc. And that someone will have to read all these questions and proofs and be able to check them all -- who could we get for this Herculean job?

Simple compilation in the form of a PDF file would be OK, I guess. Let the readers sift through questions and proofs and see for themselves what is valid or not, interesting or not etc. But still, at least some selection work will be necessary... or at least some kind of voting mechanism (via SurveyMonkey perhaps).


Posting this as an answer because it is an independent branch of discussion under the original question.

Now that we have validated the idea/concept as good, the next logical questions are

  1. Who should be the target audience eg. high school level readers, or college level readers or research level
  2. What is the best way to structure the compilation eg. 100 selected questions each form algebra, geometry, calculus, number theory etc. or alternatively say one volume for algebra one for number theory etc. The second option is much more tedious but there is no harm in discussing
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand why there should be down voting for this? Is the above question about the target audience and structure of the book not a valid question? $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2017 at 5:22

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