The idea is to have a database of open research problems where the answers will be updates or suggested approaches. One research problem per post. This is in the spirit of Polymath.


  1. Currently to find research problems one has to dig deep into papers or email the authors for suggestions. But a powerful forum like stack-exchange will be able to serve as a large database for researchers to browse for problems to work on next.
  2. It will be a great place to not only share research problems but also our ideas on attacking these problems. This is the main function of conferences so it would be great to have an online forum that serves this same purpose especially for early researchers who cannot afford going to all the different conferences.
  3. This should be a separate site from MO because many of these posts will not be answerable in the short term. Otherwise, if we start adding such posts in MO (eg. under the tag "open problems"), they will quickly crowd the usual MO posts which can be answered in the short term.
  4. Conversely the answerable MO posts under the tag "open problems" will distract from the database questions. For example, there will be no questions of the form "open problems in random graphs" or "dissertations that solved an open problem". I think each post should be devoted to one open problem only.
  5. By having the wiki-structure users will be able to create updates on the original post.

  6. An alternative is just continue to add content in the Wikipedia article on open problems. However, the site will quickly become crowded as subproblems are being added.

  7. I think it will have a great longevity due to the good robustness of SE sites. Most professors are posting their research problems in their individual websites, which cannot be edited by others and worse might get taken down after the professor retires.
  8. It will complement the OpenGarden and the OpenProblems projects. The SE version will serve as a large database for the research problems out there and their corresponding approaches. The OpenGarden will be the more monitored and formal version to avoid the ambiguities from the SE version. The SE version will serve as the place for the raw input of research problems and approaches.

We will greatly appreciate any comments. If you are interested follow the proposal to help it pass through phase one: the link is Open research problems in math

We got 5 follows and so it will at least survive as a proposal for a while.


The proposal was closed in Area51 because it was seen as too close to MO and mathSE. Some colleagues and I have already started efforts on creating an SE-like forum for this proposal that if successful will hopefully one day picked by the SE network.

However, in the meantime we created a separate post in meta-MO to incubate on ideas in creating such a database as part of MO itself.

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    $\begingroup$ Voted to migration on meta. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ @YCor I was hoping to get some extra attention here because they require 60 followers for the next phases. Also, I am not sure if this fits at Meta-MO because we are not requesting any changes to MO, unless you had some ideas. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ I see 3 votes to close. Any suggestions on improving this post? I will try to apply them. I think this post fits here because it requests the support of the math research community in creating a new SE site. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ This post assumes the (laudable) world view that we (= mathematicians) are all in this together, so we identify problems and projects, share them widely, and work on them. If you solve a problem today that I might have solved tomorrow, why, then so much the better. After all, it's just the math that matters. This seems indeed the only view of the whole enterprise that can be justified with a clear conscience. Needless to say, the real world is quite different, though. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ That is a fair opinion and so one don't have to share her/his research problems and approaches if she/he don't want to. But many professors have backlogs of problems and ideas on attacking them that they or their graduate student will not solve in their lifetime. This will be a good compliment to the OpenGarden site where already many problems are shared. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ I support this proposal. I tried to follow the link in it, filled my e-mail address but have not received the e-mail. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ It will be parallel to it. The SE version will serve as a large database for the research problems out there and their corresponding approaches. The OpenGarden will be the more monitored and formal version to avoid the ambiguities from the SE version. The SE version will serve as the place for the raw input of research problems and approaches. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ These votes before migration to metaMO were not closing votes, but migration votes (SE accounts migration votes as closing votes, which is questionable). $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ "I am not sure if this fits at Meta-MO because we are not requesting any changes to MO" It's not MO either, since there doesn't seem to be a question, only a request (whether good or bad that's not really appropriate for MO). This is closer to meta than to MO-proper. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristianRemling "Needless to say, the real world is quite different, though" The real world is just what we make it. If we prefer some alternative rules of the game, we can just try to follow them and see if we can attract enough players or whether we can afford playing by them alone. I have some technical concerns, but I'll not voice them at this stage. Still, if we want to talk about the ABC conjecture and Navier-Stokes here, we'd better have some new ideas before posting them. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think the Stack Exchange Q&A format is suitable for this project? Personally I don't think it's the most appropriate one. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that proposal is already closed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Poloni The SE version of OpenGarden will serve as the raw input of individual research problems. There each research post will be debated for clarity and also used for updates and approaches. This is already commonplace in MO where many posts are seeking updates on unsolved problems. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni The format may not be ideal, but has two things going for it. FIrst, StackEnchange is very polished, second the network has already attracted a lot of users. A site such as this would not have very much value unless actual mathematicians are contributing to it, the way they are already currently contributing to MO. AFAIK, MO is quite unique in that it was the first site to gather the contribution of many working mathematicians, even at very high level. Reusing the network and the user friendly site may be better than developing a new site more tailored for this use case $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2019 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover, one could have a post per problem and an answer per suggested approach/related result that gives partial progress. It seems like it could work more or less $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2019 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Please take note of parallel efforts, usually more narrowly focussed:

(1) The Open Problem Garden, originally concentrating on graph theory, but since expanded.


(2) The Open Problems Project, focussed on discrete and computational geometry. This area is under active development through the Workshop on Open Problems and Hard Instance Challenges, to be held this June 2019, as part of "CG week."

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    $\begingroup$ These are great too especially in their neat bibliography. I think the SE version of it will be more focused on discussions and updates. Also, it will be less formal since anyone with an account can post. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2019 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ @O'Rourke If you like our proposal, I would greatly appreciate if you can click follow as well. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ Is the Open Problem Garden a serious active website? The author page openproblemgarden.org/author is full of spam links about payday loans, so moderation there needs serious work. $\endgroup$
    – KConrad
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ Another one is "SciLag" scilag.net. It seems to be new; I haven't looked into it. It was mentioned in an answer to meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/4125/…. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2019 at 20:34

You don't need a Stackexchange site for this. You can use existing technology to create similar functionality.

Suppose I update my user page to include current projects. I can add a section which states open problems I am interested in sharing, along with links I consider relevant.

However, I can do more. I can create multiple accounts, each with their user page, which contains the set of open problems, relevant links to more information, and a contact email for correspondence/maintenance purposes.

I can do more with this. Any relevant MathOverflow question I can attach as a favorite to that user. I can have that user post an answer to a relevant question which answers the question and highlights the closely related open problem. It is against site policy to use such accounts for voting purposes, but messaging to and from accounts can be used to send more data toward that account related to the open problem. One now has a favorites page and an all actions page which can be harvested for information. If everybody created an open problem account for their open problem and used it responsibly, you would get a lot of relevant information quickly that could be searched with Google restricted to MathOverflow/users.

I don't think a specialized exchange site is needed, just a creative use of the existing system.

Gerhard "Get Use Out Of Users" Paseman, 2019.05.19.

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    $\begingroup$ This SE site will serve as a raw database of research problems posted as Wiki. Therefore, even if the original author is long gone, the research problem post will continue to be updated till the conjecture is proved. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ It will be similar to the OpenGarden project (which is also author independent) but less formal because anyone with an account can post. The OpenGarden project will be the formal version that removes any ambiguities from the research problems. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ but then MathOverflow is also not needed, a creative use of mailing groups would have sufficed (I am not an equal of Mr. Paseman in creativity, so I will let him figure out if that would suffice or not). Very few things are actually needed if you allow creativity to replace convenience. $\endgroup$
    – user138661
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @schematic_boi, there is a trade-off between creativity and convenience, but there are also gradations of necessity. I would argue that mailing groups would not give rise to as large community as StackExchange and MathOverflow have done. Thomas does not need to create a community so much as he needs to divert one. My suggestion has the advantage that less diversion is needed. Gerhard "And Less Subversion And Conversion" Paseman, 2019.05.20. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Paseman OpenGarden and OpenProblems are independent projects of MO and all three with a community of their own that overlap. If one doesn't want to contribute their research problems and ideas to the SE version of OpenGarden, they don't have to. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Paseman Also the issue is not about demand in the math community for this sort of database, as much as it is convenience and ease of use. MO and math SE are great at promoting posts and inviting everyone to contribute. OpenGardens and OpenProblems could use the extra attention that an SE version of them would create. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20, 2019 at 19:58

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