It has come to my attention that there is a group of users in MSE (myself included) who want to share their own mathematical challenges.

Thus, I have made a proposal in Area 51: Math Challenges.

There have been previous debates on whether challenges/contests should be posted on MSE. Using this question and this one as examples, it can be seen that some people object, some are in favour, and some are in favour given some conditions they've proposed. I believe that this would be completely resolved if there were another site specifically for these types of posts.

Examples of such challenges are here and here, although that last one is a bit like Math Golf.

A clear distinction between Puzzling SE and this (future) site is that the former site doesn't allow purely mathematical problems. For example, this post of mine was closed there, because "it appears to be a mathematics problem, as opposed to a mathematical puzzle."

Users who are interested in the creation, sharing and answering of mathematical challenges are more than welcome to follow the proposal. In the meantime, a bonus is that you can start thinking of challenge problems to be posted in the "example problems" section :)

If you wish to further discuss this, feel free to use this chatroom


IMPORTANT NOTE: Contest problems/challenges on the site must be original (e.g. not taken from olympiads/live contests/homework). Moreover, the asker must know what the answer is to the question, prior to posting, otherwise, we would face a situation where people will post some crazy random integrals.

IMPORTANT EDIT TO NOTE: The suggestion of asking posts on old contest problems/challenges (i.e. not created by asker) has been discussed here. I have, with the contribution of one other MSE user, said yes provided that they are made community wiki.


Updates from Area 51 Discussions:

  • I think it is good if and only if "original" also means "not taken from homework". But then there is already AOPS for that... – user21820 Sep 2 at 14:37
  • @user21820 Yes, and there are many sites that share the same purpose. IMO AoPS isn't as good as SE. What I can see is that this post will become highly controversial... – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 14:40
  • Well, I think this is a great idea! You have already received my upvote! I am currently trying to follow the proposal :D – user477343 Sep 2 at 15:05
  • Which sites have you posted this notice to, @TheSimpliFire? – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:42
  • @amWhy Just Math Meta, as I believe that MSE is most relevant for this. – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 18:43
  • It seems to me there that "challenging math problems" is far too broad of a problem, and varies across the spectrum of users' education. I'd like to see this "definition" a much more objectified in a definition. – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:45
  • @TheSimpliFire When did you last run this idea by someone else, besides today? – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:46
  • Thanks for your reply above, @TheSimpliFire – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:49
  • @amWhy Please take a look at my chatroom. I've already invited you. I was talking to quid this morning about it as I've just started a fortnight challenge (on my profile). – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 18:51
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    I think the idea could conceivably work (I certainly don't want to drain anyone's enthusiasm); but issues raised by John Ma, as well as finding a niche that is well defined, doesn't overlap with current puzzle sites or MSE, and is significant enough/has enough interest to warrant the birth of another SE site is going to take a lot more work than a proposal and a post on MSE. – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:52
  • @amWhy I understand. What would you advise me to do? Could you help make the definition more specific? – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 18:54
  • Your most recent answer troubles me. But, I'm not going to say it's a bad idea. I think you have a significant amount of work ahead of you. – amWhy Sep 2 at 18:54
  • Will it get mathjax functionality? – amWhy Sep 2 at 19:05
  • @amWhy Definitely! :) – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 19:07
  • The SimpliFire and @amWhy: Regarding MathJax, every SE site that can make a case for it being useful can get MathJax. But this is only done once the site is actually created (and then it takes some brief period and making-a-case for it). On Area51 I think there'll be no MathJax; for the site itself I cannot imagine there being any issue getting it. Except that SE seems attached to their due process so they won't launch it with MJ but will have the site ask for it. – quid Sep 2 at 21:53

It seems that if I

(1) put a 400 bounty,

(2) edit the question to set up some time constraint and rule, and

(3) delete all efforts/context

to this, this, this, then they become a "mathematical challenge" question. Actually the same goes for this, this, or this.

I don't think it works: all mathematical questions are "challenges". It seems to me that the difference between the proposal new sites and MSE is how a question is presented.

  • I should also add that the OP knows what the answer is. I have edited. – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 15:06
  • It's not clear in all the examples that I link the OP knows the answer or not in advance, @TheSimpliFire. – user99914 Sep 2 at 15:07
  • Perhaps OP should also say that after the time constraints, they will themselves put up their answer. – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 15:12
  • Regarding your edit, no. The asker must know the answer to their question. This is the main obstacle for such posts on MSE. I refer you to here. – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 15:16
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    Again, it cannot be checked, @TheSimpliFire. Even if they think they know, their answer might be wrong. – user99914 Sep 2 at 15:20
  • Introducing the site would resolve the issue, unless, of course, MSE allows these questions – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 15:22
  • That can't be the sole purpose, @TheSimpliFire Someone proposed "math HW" in area 51 earlier this year and got deleted since it looks like a dump site for MSE. Related post here. – user99914 Sep 2 at 15:59
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    @JohnMa regarding the integrals they could go to that new site if they are intended as a challenge and if they have an actual mathematical motivation it should be included and can stay here. – quid Sep 2 at 18:37
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    "It seems to me that the difference between the proposal new sites and MSE is how a question is presented. " How is this a problem? (Presumably over time the Challenges site would work out some constraints.) – quid Sep 2 at 18:38
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    @quid Of course, currently the proposed site and descriptions are rather broad. As time goes by I'm sure we'll be more specific as to its purpose. – TheSimpliFire Sep 2 at 18:56
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    @quid The problem is that IMO SE won't create a site just to generate a subset of the Q&A that MSE could provide. The new proposal look just like MSE with a different format. – user99914 Sep 2 at 19:23
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    @JohnMa they might not create it as SE seems not keen on such "fun" sites, but PPCG also exists. The questions also only "differ in presentation" from a Q that might be asked on SO. This difference in presentation (and motivation!) changes the entire dynamic though. – quid Sep 2 at 20:12
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    @JohnMa re the Q on Area51, if it's not clear how about you comment there, not here. I think one can kind of see what is intended but I did not get a piece of notation either. It's about the probability of X+Y-Z being less than a when X,Y,Z follow certain prescribed distributions, Normal, Binomial, Poisson I'd suppose. But I'm not certain how the parameters are intended to be read. – quid Sep 2 at 22:02
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    @PeterTaylor possibly I was stretching the analogy a bit. The point I meant to make is though that most questions on the contest site I think would not fit the format of this site well or at all either. Some of the questions in OP in current form are already borderline. With the changes proposed they would create significant push-back from parts of the community. There might be a niche for this site. To say that's not needed because it's possible to do this here anyway is a disservice to the new idea and to this site. At least that's my opinion. – quid Sep 3 at 15:05
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    An important point is that the site would contain math problems for the sake of recreation, whereas MSE (according to some big users on the side) seems to be limited to math problems for those who need help with them. – Frpzzd Sep 3 at 18:03

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