MathOverflow first came online on September 28, 2009!

Let's celebrate five years of MO!

I bought a delicious cake from the best bakery in the area to have with dinner tonight. I'm sure you will also find your own delectable way to celebrate this anniversary.

Some years ago, I asked community members How is MO useful for you? I think this is a great occasion to revisit that question. When asked about the motivations behind the site, MathOverflow founder Anton Geraschenko said: "I wanted MathOverflow to be useful for me!" So:

How is MathOverflow useful for you?

  • 28
    How is it not? It's a place to feel that you're working, even when you're just procrastinating! – Asaf Karagila Sep 28 '14 at 15:31
  • 13
    I made an apple pie today from apples that I had picked myself. I had no particular reason for it, but, as always, I found a good justification here at MO for doing something I maybe shouldn't have done. – Joonas Ilmavirta Sep 28 '14 at 20:01
  • I think celebrating the anniversary is off-topic. Meta is where users discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 129 Stack Exchange communities. In this page it has been explained how mathoverflow and other stackexchange sites are useful for their users. – user47958 Oct 4 '14 at 10:43
  • 14
    @user47958, such a celebration is indeed off-topic according to the rulebook, but in my opinion an occasional off-topic discussion promoting a warm atmosphere and a sense of togetherness is more than welcome. MathOverflow tries to be a community rather than just a Q&A site, and I see no reason to change our direction in this respect. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 4 '14 at 11:54
  • 4
    re meta there are both narrow and broad interpretations of on topic scope for meta, afaik there is no official narrow interpretation. it is expected that groups come to own consensus about use esp at mod discretion. re the question, MO is esp useful to those outside of academia eg working in industry who have serious mathematical research interests & cannot participate directly but can indirectly through the wonders of cyberspace and "open science". see also Nielsens book Reinventing Discovery / Network science – vzn Oct 6 '14 at 2:36
  • 9
    "Meta is for... ...MathOverflow users to communicate with each other" @user47958 - what that means is up to the folks here. – Shog9 Oct 6 '14 at 3:58
  • 10
    ...is not an exhaustive list, @user – Shog9 Oct 6 '14 at 13:52
  • 8
    @user47958: Many? Note that the SE network is less than 5 years old and MO joined the network only recently. MO's traditions developed separately from the rest of the network and many are very different. – François G. Dorais Oct 6 '14 at 16:24
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    @user47958: No, but thanks for your concern. – François G. Dorais Oct 6 '14 at 16:28
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    @user47958 Extended discussion about the on-topicness of a question in comments is not following established best practices, as you should know. If you want to discuss the subject further you better create your own question. – user9072 Oct 6 '14 at 16:57
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    @user47958 what exactly is your legitimacy for telling the MO community how they should use the meta part of their site ...? MO has a special contract with SE, and they are therefore not obliged to embrace and adopt all SE policies, guidelines, rules, etc if they dont agree with them or consider them not useful. Please respect this. BTW congratulations and the best wishes to the 5th aniversary of MO from me too! – Dilaton Oct 6 '14 at 17:52
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    @user47958 the special agreement between SE and MO is not hidden, you can for example find a link to the text of it in this answer. The agreement is legally valid even in the "real world", lawiers took part in the negotiations. If things go completely wrong (for example because people who do not respect the specific culture and standards of the MO community try to overtake the site ...), MO has even the right to leave the SE network. So I suggest to you to turn your the MO community patronizing tone a bit down ... – Dilaton Oct 6 '14 at 18:12
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    @user47958 We're celebrating it here. If you find that objectionable, don't view the post. It's that simple. Meta sites are for discussions surrounding the parent site and community, so it's up to the MO community to decide what they want to talk about here. They want to talk about the site turning 5, and you don't, and that's okay. We're getting to the point where this has been discussed enough - please let it drop. – Tim Post Oct 7 '14 at 4:24
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    For the record to avoid the risk (not sure it exists) that somebody should get away with the idea we can have such threads only due to MO's "special status." This is not the case. On math.SE for example there were considerably more such threads then we have here (while there was some pushback against them recently this did not come from SE) and MSE (the general meta site, and former meta of SO) is full of all kinds of celebration, fun and other material only tangentially related to the working of the main site. If anything meta.MO seems rather dry comprared to some other metas. – user9072 Oct 7 '14 at 6:09
  • 2
    Ooooh ! Happy Belated Birthday dearest MO !!! I am very happy to come from time to time and read, sometimes, ask question and be read and answered, sometimes exchange ideas and insights. This is great, really. Today I will go to a working group in mathematics and bring something in honour of the Birthday ! Long life to MO ! – Duchamp Gérard H. E. Oct 24 '14 at 3:26

Excellent opportunity to say what is so difficult to express adequately - the gratitude I feel for having this fantastic place! I've been here for less than a year, and almost from the very beginning it amplified my work enormously. You, who created and maintain MO - you are truly shaping the new, different, better, stronger, brighter future of mathematics.

My five year MathOverflow Anniversary will come in a few months; I intend to have an expanded version of this answer posted at that time. (Edit:Expanded Version Here.) Briefly:

  • It gives me a community that is in large part accepting of my mathematical interests and opinions;

  • It shows me examples of scholarship and professional responses: this is some of the stuff I should have picked up in graduate school that I did not;

  • It allows me as a non-academic to access resources in academia that I would usually consider unavailable, primarily opinions and ideas related to my specific interests;

  • It allows me as a non-academic to provide a perspective that I believe is important for some of this community to consider.

I find all of the above aspects useful in expressing my mathematical side, and in contributing to the development of a subject that I consider a part of me. I credit MathOverflow with helping me develop my appreciation and ability for mathematics.

It is my hope to enjoy several MathOverflow Anniversaries with an even larger community.

Gerhard "Should It Get More Sappy?" Paseman, 2014.09.28

  • 3
    As an industry guy I think you have expressed my own experience perfectly. – Steve Huntsman Oct 6 '14 at 12:24

I had no idea that MO was just slightly older than my career as a mathematics graduate student, but I am immensely grateful for its existence. I love this site.

When I knew this website for the first time, I just entered my senior high school. At that time the questions and answers do not make much sense for me. However, now as an undergraduate student, I organised my own seminars and I've found MO really helpful. I can always find excellent answers relating my questions.

Best wishes for MO!

Wow, 5 years already! It seems like just yesterday that I joined MO---replete with the initial trepidation, perhaps even dread, that I had before daring to post a question or answer anything.

MO has provided (and continues to provide) me with an inimitable mode of education (more than just mathematical), as well as new ideas, techniques, and tasty [ more than most cakes :-) ] problems.

I'd like to use this moment express my gratitude to the entire MO ecosystem!

  • 3
    I checked, it wasn't yesterday! – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '14 at 2:17
  • 2
    @AsafKaragila, there is a relativistic phenomenon that suggests MO is very massive: If it feels that you've only spent a day at MO, you have actually spent four years according to external clocks. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 16 '14 at 21:39
  • 1
    @Joonas: Were those clocks moving 90% the speed of light for a while? Because I have troubles believing those kind of clocks. – Asaf Karagila Oct 16 '14 at 21:55
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    @JoonasIlmavirta: Relativity to the rescue! good one! – Suvrit Oct 17 '14 at 3:28
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    @Asaf: I think those clocks were stationary. It's just that MO is an exceptional astronomical object. Or in other words, on the verge of becoming a black hole... – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 17 '14 at 4:28
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    @Joonas: On the verge? It's a wonder I still get work done. Wait... – Asaf Karagila Oct 17 '14 at 4:40

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