I thought of doing a question series with the aim of understanding a paper. I would like to do it so that even undergraduates could understand. The motivation is of course that I want to understand it myself. But in order to provide context for very specific questions which may only possible to answer when reading the paper, I thought it would be better to work through that paper completely via Math.SE, with links to the question before/after and all that. Of course I would self-answer questions that I can answer but think others reading the question-series/paper may not be able to. If someone doesn't understand another part of the paper that isn't yet covered by the series, the community can seamlessly integrate that question into the series.
I'm asking in general, but the concrete example that spawned it and that would be my question-series is Cahit's "Spiral Chains: The Proofs of Tait’s and Tutte’s Three-Edge-Coloring Conjectures" paper, which implies the Four Color Theorem without need of a computer.
I'm excited to see what the community thinks about this :)
EDIT: Some thoughts have been collected and I would make my idea more precise by formulating the following guidelines:
- The paper shouldn't be new. Brand-new research can be discussed over at MathOverflow, according to their guidelines. I think a paper should be at least a year old.
- If it is a preprint, it should be at least several years old, say five, so that the author had a reasonable amount of time to work out errors and submit it to a journal.
- A question series is not to be done to prove the correctness or incorrectness of the paper for whatever reasons. It is to be done to make the paper accessible to a wider range of audience and explain intermediate steps.
- If during the question series the paper does indeed admits a seemingly weakness, then we, as a scientific community, will accept this discovery without making a big ruckus.
- In general, if you think a question series is done about a dubious paper or dubious author, you can raise your concern, but in a civilized manner (no shaming, no name-calling including "nut", "crank" etc.). A question series is not a place for judging, critiquing, or refereeing the preprint or published article itself.
- If you want to start a question series on your own, be sure to invest energy into it. You shall not make the first entry for the series and expect the community to do the rest, a question series is no workaround for "Please explain paper X to me!" being too broad.
- Generally every question of the question series has to fit the MSE standards by itself, as usual.
- To avoid the concept of question series getting abused by so-called rep-farmers step-by-step explaining simple papers (probably leading to banning this format), entries of the question series are generally to be asked as Community Wiki questions. Exceptions are usually those questions not originally related to the series but who fit completely into the paper at some point. (E.g. the existing series does not answer a question someone studying it has, that person asks a question and this question gets incorporated into the series.)