My view has always been that programming questions are very much borderline. Here is the border, as I see it.
Your question is about the mathematics of the algorithm. This could be about a specific implementation, but the question has to be mathematical. That question is on-topic here.
Your question is about the implementation of your code. It is about the ...
Yes, this is a Q&A site for mathematics at all levels. However, all questions should be asked well, regardless of how "elementary" or "advanced" the content of the question may be.
In particular, a math question at any level which follows the excellent guide How to ask a good question? should be warmly welcomed here.
This is acceptable if you can make your question reasonably self-contained.
That is, for example:
Your actual question could be how to calculate an integral, and this integral should be included in the post.
Your context could be that this integral shows up in a paper your are studying and you link to the paper for further context and mention the ...
Just a few comments on this.
Asking questions about mathematics is precisely the purpose of this site. It does not matter whether the questions come from the book you are studying or from elsewhere.
What does matter is that you put an effort into your question and that you do not ask too many questions at once.
I definitely prefer when the OP mentions the ...
Yes, however when asking a basic question it is even more important to provide context, showing your work so far and what you have to work with/know.
Solve this equation for me: $3x +1 = 2x-2$.
This question contain no context, does not show any effort, and does not provide any context to the readers what you already know, thus is a bad posed ...
Intuition is extremely important in mathematics and not always explicitly taught in math courses.
As a working mathematician, I need "hard" knowledge to prove and define things in detail, but "soft" knowledge is an indispensable guide that steers my work.
We would lose much if we were to ban intuitive questions here.
It's not easy to apply the same standards ...
I believe that questions asking for help in understanding a textbook argument are always on-topic, as long as reasonable context is provided.
If the reason for the misunderstanding turns out to be that the textbook is in error, whether a minor typo or something more substantive, that is a valid answer. It doesn't make the question off-topic.
How can I choose the preferred website to put my questions?
I once read something along the lines "If you have to ask whether to ask on MO or math.se, likely you should ask it on math.se." I think this is a good rule of thumb.
What if someone writes his or her question down on the not preferable website?
If you post on MO and they think it is ...
I think most of the heavy users of the site would be very happy to see questions asked out of pure idle curiosity: pure idle curiosity is one of the nobler motives in mathematical research, so far as I am concerned. It sure beats the hell out of "I was assigned this question so I'll try to get it answered online."
I can see that you are mostly questioning ...
This is an interesting idea. I definitely see the appeal of getting learners of mathematics on this site. Used properly, Math.SE can be an incredibly effective resource for learning mathematics.
There is no rule preventing your posing a question and requiring your students to answer this question. There are a few odd interactions that may occur, though. I ...
I believe that such "answers" should not simply be flagged as "not an answer" because they are trying to bring a potentially bad situation our attention (in essence, they are much closer to being flags than simple comments). If users/reviewers can find information that would back-up claims made in such answers, flagging the question for specific moderator ...
1) A homework problem (with book citation)
Excellent. This provides part of the context, namely where the problem came from. Sadly, many other people don't even bother to state this, and is one possible factor for closure.
2) The inquirer's workings towards an (ultimately incorrect) final answer
Great. As long as it is readable, it is perfect.
3) The ...
"Is this original?" is not a good mathematical question on its own. The answers to that are "Yes" and "No" and neither one of them furthers anyone's mathematical knowledge.
That said, I don't think this is really what an genuine asker wants to know anyways. Perhaps, one of the following is true:
You touched upon an instance of some unfamiliar, but ...
This looks perfectly suitable to me. A good rule of thumb is that if the underlying question is fundamentally mathematical, and answering would not require any specific non-mathematical knowledge, then the question is suitable here.
I would like to recommend that people use the Mathematics Teaching Community site. It was developed by my colleague Sybilla Beckmann, with the assistance of my PhD student Jacob Hicks. I think it is a very nice site, with one notable flaw: only a tiny percentage of the mathematics teaching community knows about it, so only a tiny percentage is active there....
If it is at all possible you should make the question self-contained, that is you should reproduce the relevant content here (mentioning the source, and linking it for further context).
There may be cases where this is not possible, but often they will result in too broad or otherwise unsuitable questions.
History of Mathematics was and is on-topic on this site, and I think it should continue to be on-topic. For an elaboration on why I think so see my other answer in this thread.
The help center has it right, in my opinion, when it says:
There are certain subjects that, while still on-topic here, might be better addressed by one of our sister sites:
Linking back to the old answer (not just the question; the URL for the answer itself can be obtained by clicking the share tool between the answer and the answerer's profile name) provides context, and helps those who will explain it.
You should also quote the relevant section of the old answer, and describe which parts of it don't make sense, ...
It really depends on the situation. Sometimes asking "what have you tried?" is indeed useless.
However, a lot of time it does give us some useful information.
By showing what the questioner has tried. One get a grip on the questioner's level of mathematical sophistication. One can taylor make an answer which the questioner can understand.
Another very ...
It seems to me that inevitably it is not possible to qualitatively distinguish confusions/questions "typical to laypeople" from many of the questions/confusions arising among 20-year-olds taking undergrad math. The latter are identifiable not by some innate qualities so much as by the narrowness of range and by specificity. If anything, "low-level" questions ...
I'd avoid the word 'best;' it just causes the problem of subjectivity and does not bring much precision in return.
You search for references in a relatively specific subject. Explain in a bit more detail than you did already what it is about and what you have read already. Then, ask for additional references to further your studies in this direction. Try ...
I personally have never downvoted any questions....
Then you are not fully participating in the site. You should vote early and vote often.
Also, the mouseover text on the downvote button states:
This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.
Now, as to homework questions:
There is a major difference in ...
You are not wrong that most of the posts on this site are at an Undergraduate level; however, all are encouraged to ask questions here!
Though I have no facts to back me up here, I would say that the prevalence of undergraduate material largely comes from the way schools and universities are set up:
Prior to university, students in mathematics classes ...
Totally agree, and should have done something about this a while ago. To this end, I additionally propose making a new custom close reason:
Seeking personal advice. Questions about choosing a course, academic program, career path, etc. are off-topic. Such questions should be directed to those employed by the institution in question, or other qualified ...
I don't think there is a principle problem against questions and answers which involve programming. Some mathematicians do a lot of programming as part of their work.
The issue here is the question being on-topic. Namely, it has to be about the mathematics, and not about the implementation. It should be about the general idea behind the algorithm, rather ...
I'm new here, but I don't see why it would be a problem. From the about page:
Mathematics Stack Exchange is for people studying mathematics at any
level and professionals in related fields. We welcome questions about:
Understanding mathematical concepts and theorems.
Mathematical problems such as one might come across in a course or textbook. ...
In cases like that the OP can't know that the confusion was caused by a typo.
On-topicness should be decided by the question itself, not by what the answer turns out to be.
Therefore it would seem unreasonable to me to consider such questions off-topic.
Besides, any question about a confusion in the process of reading mathematics should be on-topic, as long ...
The question you mentioned should be closed. The argument given for closing it is arguably prone to cause confusion and dissent though.
In our guidelines How to ask a good question. it is mentioned that some context should be provided.
Some consider lack of context as a reason to close. There is a community specific close reason for just this:
I think that these questions should be accepted, even if they may not be entirely valid. It is true that many of them are formulaic, include some "life story" aspect, and sometimes may even be called non-questions.
However, I think that it is, in some sense, our duty to answer them: such a question could be a great threshold for a person. They wonder about ...