I have some mathematical questions that lie between music and mathematics, particularly applications of mathematics in building musical instruments.

As an example see this paper: The Mathematics of Musical Instruments

Are they on-topic here? In general, what sort of interdisciplinary questions are on-topic here?

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    $\begingroup$ I think such question is on-topic here if and only if it is interesting for mathematicians. -- That means in particular: if your question is solely interesting for people building musical instruments, then MathOverflow is unlikely to be the right place to ask it. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Sep 29, 2015 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ Here is an example of an earlier MO math/music question: "Relation between math and piano music." There was some discussion in the comments concerning its appropriateness, but in the end it was well-received. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ @JosephO'Rourke Thank you for introducing the link. Both question and its answer are very interesting. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


As coincidentally came up recently, questions on this site should typically be related to research in mathematics (not questions in mathematics related to research).

A very good answer to a similar question was given by Kaveh, let me quote some key bits:

[Q]uestions have to be stated clearly and in a way which is understandable to mathematicians. Keep in mind that the audience of the site are mathematicians. It is mainly the job of the person asking the question to state the question clearly and rigorously in the language of mathematicians.



  • you have good reasons to believe that a mathematician can answer the question and that the expertise of a mathematician is required to answer it,
  • you have spend time to write a clear question in the language of mathematicians,
  • you have written a brief motivation section explaining why you are interested in the question,
  • you have demonstrated that you have done your own research and have tried to answer your question yourself first,

then it is much more likely that your question will get positive feedback on MO[...]

For questions mainly pertaining to historical matters you could consider the site on History of Science and Mathematics instead.

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    $\begingroup$ And of course if the question really is of a mathematical nature but not of interest to mathematicians, math.stackexchange.com might well be a good place for it (still assuming it can be formulated to be understandable by mathematicians). $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ To complement quid's good answer let me add that I would regard mathematical questions arising from good-level research in other areas as both interesting to (at least to some) mathematicians, and as representing research-in-mathematics appropriate for MO. Of course, the question should be genuinly a question-in-mathematics. Amit, I suggest you will state your actual question in the body of your meta question or as a comment. $\endgroup$
    – Gil Kalai
    Sep 30, 2015 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ @GilKalai In fact it is a (not too long) series of questions not a single one. I think it is not suitable to mention them here in Meta but they are generally similar to what Joseph O'Rourke linked in his comment. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AmitSingMukerjee then why not give the first of the series? $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Oct 1, 2015 at 10:28

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