I have an idea for an attack on an additive number theory conjecture. My usual collaborator (with whom I have published four papers) is not an ANT specialist, and is not interested in working on this problem with me.

Via email, I approached an ANT specialist, but he is apparently not interested in a collaboration (though he hasn't indicated why or why not).

So I'm still looking for a potential collaborator.

Is there an accepted channel or website on which one can post "Seeking Collaborator" type requests? Or does one have to individually identify and personally email specialists in that field of research, in order to locate a willing collaborator?

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    $\begingroup$ Ant specialists are called myrmecologists. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 31, 2014 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ I find it somewhat depressing that 5 years later, when I’m again looking for a collaborator, there are still no avenues other than cold-calling — where’s the "Tinder (Academic Edition)"? — and the top hit on my web search for “how to find a mathematical collaborator” is this MOmeta thread… $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2020 at 0:52

3 Answers 3


Not through Stackexchange (unless you are willing to hire someone).

Become an expert: read all the literature on your subject, write about it, answer questions. If you can, develop some results and present them at appropriate conferences. This improves the odds of someone coming to you about collaboration.

You can also open up the problem and invite the world in. Create a web page or wiki and point people to it whenever socially acceptable. On this forum, place a link on your user page and mention it oh so occasionally in appropriate contexts. MathOverflow is for references, not advertisements.

If you have developed the idea enough to try an approach, and are getting stuck, THEN you might try a post which describes the approach and the specific sticking point, and what you have tried and read about it. Anyone who replies may be a potential collaborator, in which case you can mention to them that you would welcome further input from them. But make it about the specific question; don't make it about the collaboration.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect you have not read Kieren's bio (a link is in his profile). If you have, my apologies $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Oct 31, 2014 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't mean to suggest that Kieran is not an expert, nor that he (gender assumption) has not already tried some of the suggestions; apologies to him if it comes across poorly. For future readers, I stand by the suggestions: I don't expect to see a mathematical match.com anytime soon, nor a specific site of the kind desired in the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2014 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ For the record, I am not an expert, and I am indeed male. I am, however, almost certainly unlikely to do any of the things suggested. Not because they are bad suggestions — they're quite good — but because my primary vocation (composer), secondary vocation (music director), tertiary vocation (educator), and quaternary vocation (computer programmer), along with my duties as a father, leave me very little time to "become an expert" in any field of math. Until there is a mathematch.org, I guess I'll just have to research and approach mathematicians individually. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2014 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ @KierenMacMillan understood (I knew all this having followed the link in your profile), and this is what I was trying to hint at in my first comment $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Oct 31, 2014 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Do as you will. In my view, both H. S. M. Coxeter and Marjorie Rice are experts. In the unlikely event you need further inspiration, check out Wikipedia's list of amateur mathematicians. If you post a link to your idea on your user page, I'll check it out. (Not an ANT.) $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2014 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Rice is nearly 100, and Coxeter died (right here in Toronto!) over a decade ago. I'll look around for other possible collaborators. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2014 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, you want younger, more lively people to be experts and collaborators? I guess if they collaborate with you, you get to be as choosy as you want. I had suggested those two as experts in certain fields in geometry, not as potential ANT collaborators. But who knows? ... $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2014 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ @TheMaskedAvenger: I'm definitely hoping anyone I end up collaborating with is still alive. Otherwise, communication would be… difficult. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2014 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Just an idea but it would be quite useful to have something like careers for working and collaborating on math problems. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Nov 15, 2014 at 8:20

I don't have any good ideas on websites or channels where one can request such collaborations.

Insofar as this is posted to MO meta, there seems to be an implicit question as to whether or how MO could be used to promote such an inquiry. Realistically I think the options for this are a bit limited. Two things come to my mind (aside from the well-intentioned suggestions made by the Masked Avenger).

The first is to construct a good and well-focused question that involves your idea, and (maybe) to add somewhere in the body that you would be open to a possible collaboration on this, giving suitable contact details. (Or, you could bring up the prospect of contacting someone offline in a follow-up comment, if they respond usefully.) It is quite true that MO has some success stories where collaborations began with an MO question, and I think the community might be sympathetic to this. But the emphasis here would be on the question itself, and I think it would also be good to be low-key about the possible collaboration.

(There is sometimes a funny dynamic about proposing collaborations, not unlike the dynamic seen on sites like match.com, or so I would guess. Indeed a mathematical collaboration is a type of interpersonal relationship with someone you might not know too well at first, and which involves a degree of give and take and some degree of commitment and so on. People often want to weigh all sorts of factors before "taking the plunge". Same with how one chooses a PhD adviser, come to think of it...)

The other option, which I expect would be riskier in terms of the question staying open, is just to ask an advice-style question pertaining to the mathematical profession, which one sometimes sees on MO. You could maybe ask something very similar to what you ask here, or you could ask how other people in the profession broach the subject of initiating collaborations, etc. Such a question could be Community Wiki, and maybe such a direct approach would garner some useful suggestions. As I say it's "riskier", but as my dad used to advise me, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Could be others are in a similar situation and would be interested in such a question.

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    $\begingroup$ I personally would be opposed to a question of the second form on MO. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2014 at 21:06

You might find someone on Linked In. Select Interests, groups, then search for mathematics. Over 1000 groups.


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