My understanding of this is that mathematics is research-level if:

  • you could conceivably write a paper on some aspect of it;
  • it could be taught in a grad-level course;
  • it is not widely known throughout the mathematical community, etc.

(This is by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive list.)

With this in mind, would this question be acceptable for MO? I'm not sure if this is too far from research-level mathematics to be considered acceptable.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is good if you also link the MSE question, helps to locate it. $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Oct 13 '13 at 18:52
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ "Could be taught in a grad-level course" ... we get far too many standard homework exercises from standard graduate textbooks. These should be MSE, not MO. $\endgroup$ – Gerald Edgar Oct 14 '13 at 13:01

To me, your question looks quite acceptable for MO.

"Research-level" is a slightly awkward shorthand and shouldn't be taken too literally. I like to picture the typical intended user of MO as one who is a "serious student of mathematics", where mathematics professors are counted as being among "students of mathematics", and "serious" might mean (roughly) "past the qualifying exam stage of graduate study". So if such a user is studying some bit of mathematics, gets stuck on something and doesn't see a solution after some thought, some googling, etc., but feels it is very likely that some other serious student has worked through the details and can handily provide an answer, then chances are the user has a question tailor-made for MO. The linked question sounds like just such a situation.

Of course, there are situations where not everyone can agree on the criteria for being "MO-worthy". If in doubt, it's always good to ask here.


Assuming you are really rather interested in what is on-topic here on MO than in a definition of "research-level mathematics": MO welcomes questions of various kinds which are interesting to mathematicians working in research. The range of questions accepted is pretty wide, as you can see when you browse the site and look for questions which have been upvoted.

Though what is not accepted is everything which is considered too low level or too vague, questions where students ask to get their homework done by someone else, questions mainly asking for opinions, questions where amateurs ask people to check their claimed solution of this or that famous problem, and of course questions about topics other than mathematics.

Concerning your question: just see how things are going -- I see your question already has an upvoted answer!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .