Talk:Main Page/Archive 4

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This is an article of past discussions, from 22-Feb-2009 to 14-Jun-2009.
Do not edit the contents of this page.
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Links to Mathematicians

I've just done a job of de-cluttering the Wanted Page list by removing internal links to mathematicians, philosophers and their works and replacing them with Wikipedia links.

However, it occurs to me that we might want to include links to our specific pages on mathematicians, and if possible get the links to go directly to our modest little piece on the mathematician in question.

How easy would that be? At the moment it's easy enough to add a link to the "mathematicians" page, but it would be nice to go one step further. --Matt Westwood 14:06, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Using the table method on the mathematicians page isn't working too well since we can't link directly to the person. Maybe we should have it so that each mathematician is under their own section.


===Small Bio===
===Related Proofs/Theorems===

My only concern with this is that the page may become too large. Although saying that what we could do would be to have subpages for each mathematician, where we can have a full bio or whatever, and just have small sections set to trasnclude so that on the main page we can include {{proofwiki:mathematicians/mathematician_name}}, and this will just have a small amount of information. Such as:

  • years active
  • small bio maybe
  • proofs/theorems

If anyone thinks this is an okay idea let me know and I'll begin to implement this. --Joe (talk) 17:28, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Worth trying out, at least. --Matt Westwood 18:27, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Okay, I have it started but it still needs to get some kinks worked out. --Joe (talk) 19:46, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

I have to go for dinner, feel free to pick at it a bit if you want. --Joe (talk) 19:50, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

If your dinner's as good as the mixed grill I just put together and scarfed down (sausage, burgers, lamb chops, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried eggs, baked beans and chips) then you won't want to move for several hours. I'll give this some proper looking-at in the morning, work out how to drive it then. --Matt Westwood 20:03, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Referencing fields of mathematics

I noticed recently that a category can have a text page attached, so I have been moving the references to fields of mathematics (e.g. Geometry, Topology etc.) from the Definitions namespace to the Categories one. This makes it easier to (for example) distinguish links to the genre of Topology from those to the definition of the mathematical object that is a Topology.

I went through the definitions yesterday and moved a whole load of them (leaving redirects where appropriate).

What does anyone else think: is this a good approach? Define genres in the category pages and not the definitions pages? --Matt Westwood 10:28, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. Definitely leave the redirects, though. --Cynic (talk) 18:30, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Cynic. --Joe (talk)

Open Hypotheses

We need a category to put (among others) the Riemann Hypothesis, which now has 5 links to it (including this one).

Obviously we can't prove it as such but we ought to be able to reference it.

So how about a category to put this in, along with P vs NP, Navier-Stokes, the Hodge Conjecture and all the others?

As a subcategory of Category:Proofs, or do we want a completely new category? And what do we call it: "Open Questions" or what? --Matt Westwood 09:38, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Good question, I'd would like to say put it inside Category:Proofs if for no other reason then organization. --Joe (talk) 14:02, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Actually, on second thought, a completely separate one seems good as well. --Joe (talk) 14:03, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

I think a new category in the main namespace would be in order. Maybe Category:Unsolved Problems or Category:Open Questions --Cynic (talk) 19:47, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

I would suggest "Open Questions". Of course, there is also the notion of "Conjectures", which we may or may not want to distinguish. -- lasserempe 19:50, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

What's the difference? We could set up two separate subcategories of "unproved statements" or something. --Matt Westwood 21:33, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, P NP is more of an open question since there is not one widely accepted side to the arguement (to the best of my knowledge), whereas the Riemann Hypothesis is more of a conjecture since one side of the question (namely, that the nontrivial solutions have real part 1/2) is generally believed to be true. With that in mind, it might make sense to have conjectures as a subcategory of open questions, but I don't really care that much. --Cynic (talk) 21:56, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

I would actually say there's overwhelming support for the conjecture that P is not equal to NP. But in any case, yes, a conjecture is a mathematical statement that is believed to be true, whereas a question is open-ended. Hence you "prove" or "disprove" a conjecture, but you "answer" a question. I don't really care much either though - it's certainly accurate that conjectures are a subset of open questions. -- lasserempe 16:15, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Stubs, stubs and stubs

There are three basic reasons for a stub article:

  1. When the writer just wants to add a stake in the ground so as to identify the thrust of an as-yet unwritten page (in which the name of the page itself may not be descriptive enough or too ambiguous without some basic info) but hasn't got time or inclination to complete it;
  2. When a writer is half way through a long-winded proof or definition, but domestic or commercial priorities demand that work be suspended while another task is attended to;
  3. When a writer genuinely (through lack of inspiration, expertise or application) can not reach the end of a particular train of thought and has to abandon it.

So I see the need for different kinds of stub:

  1. The basic stub, which covers the first of the above. This should be fair game for anyone to dive in and complete.
  2. A "work in progress" stub, which means "Please don't touch this yet, I know it's not finished, I'm working on it." Other Proofwiki users would take this as a polite request not to modify the page until the original creator has finished with it.
  3. A "help, please!" stub which specifically invites any contributors to see whether they can finish it off.

Clearly there may be a cause for 2. above to be monitored. If a user has too many of these open at any one time then they could be gently nudged either to finish off what they've started or else to throw it open.

Any takers? Any more categories of stub? --Matt Westwood 00:38, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

A "help" template would definitely be in order. I think the general stub tag should stay as the first of your classifications. As for the "work in progress", that might be something for people to do individually. That is to say, each user could have their own template for things they will come back to. Of course, as I think about this, that might be unfriendly to people without the experience to create their own templates (I usually just modify one that is close to what I want since I don't pretend to understand a lot of the syntax). That said, {{stub|Work in Progress}} could be enough to identify what people are planning on coming back to (without, of course, having the benefit of keeping track of how many open proofs users have at any given point). --Cynic (talk) 02:54, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

You can see what I was thinking of for the user specific "I'll get back to it" templates in my sandbox, and you can see the code (which would only need slight modifications for other users) here. --Cynic (talk) 03:29, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

I like your idea. Something similar to that could/should definitely be implemented in the main stub template. --Joe (talk) 04:29, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Thx Cynic - I've added a couple of my own personal "in progress" pages based on your own versions. --Matt Westwood 10:02, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

I'll these and add them to the stub template so that users who don't want to have their own stub pages can use them. --Joe (talk) 13:48, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Done! What do you think (I know it still might need to be touched up a little)? Check out the sandbox and template page --Joe (talk) 14:45, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Very nice. Is there any way of automatically including the username in a Help or In Progress stub? Just so that us lazy bods with overlong usernames don't get bored typing ... I tried experimenting with replacing all instances of "Matt Westwood" with ~~~ in my personal version in my sandbox; all very well except for the links, we get [[User:Matt Westwood|Matt Westwood]] instead of Matt Westwood appearing. --Matt Westwood 15:28, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

... hang on I think I know why that happens ... the ~~~ gets replaced with the complete box. Having noticed that, it would also be good to have a ~~~~ in there somewhere so as to do the date in there as well. --Matt Westwood 15:31, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Another suggestion: instead of "Question", what about "Problem" in the "Help" template? Might be tedious expressing the stumbling-block specifically as a question, "Problem" allows the user to furnish it as a statement. --Matt Westwood 15:37, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Nice! Would it make sense to add a time-stamp in the "in progress" template? -- lasserempe 16:11, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Good suggestions! I have to run out for a bit, when I get back I'll have a go at it. --Joe (talk) 16:20, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

I haven't quite been able to get the automatic timestamps to work yet, someone else may want to have a go at it. Look here for the idea I'm using and in Template:Timestamp. --Joe (talk) 21:31, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Hey, the wiki help page you posted says ~~~~~ (that's five ~ s) works for a timestamp (like so: 02:13, 9 March 2009 (UTC)). I'll mess around with it and see if I can get it working. --Cynic (talk) 02:13, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Disregard, didn't work as I hoped. --Cynic (talk) 02:33, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Random things

I've made it now so that the namespaces ProofWiki,User, and the Main namespace can have proper subpages. Before they were just pages with backslashes and you couldn't call a subpage by typing say [[/subpage1]]. Now you can!

Also, I'm working on writing an extension that will allow us to use LaTeX's picture environment. I've only just tossed some things together so far, nothing major, but I'm fairly certain that I'll be able to make it so that we can use something like:


To produce the corrosponding LaTeX picture. My hope is that this may cut down on the number of files we need to upload, to make things easier to manage. If anyone would like to help out with writing or has suggestions (eg. is picture environment best to use), let me know. --Joe (talk) 02:16, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

I've had trouble with the picture environment in the past, it takes a lot of work to little effect. And you can't easily do circles. Apparently the eepic or psticks environment is better, but I haven't found out how to use them (lack of application on my part). What I have found useful is the xymatrix environment which can do commutative diagrams.

The problem with uploading pngs or jpgs is that there only seems one directory to put them in. I've tried to put one or two into subdirectories of my user directory but that didn't work. If you can put pictures into a directory related to the page it's intended for, that would be good. (But then you wouldn't be able so easily to use the same pic in two different places.)--Matt Westwood 10:02, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

How about if we use gnuplot, I've found an already existing extension for it? Thoughts---Joe (talk) 16:49, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Looks promising. If it's an actual pluggable interface to mediawiki then it could be perfect. As long as we can get round the security issues ... --Matt Westwood 17:20, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Removed Chat

Chat was causing some log in problems, so I removed it! --Joe (talk) 00:28, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Change of direction

Does anyone mind if I leave off complex analysis for a while? Reasons:

  • I'm getting sick of the fiddly nature of analysis;
  • I'm having trouble (and it's too tediously time-consuming) identifying whether results apply to real, complex, metric, Hausdorff or general topological spaces;
  • I'm losing track of what results we already have and haven't currently got the patience to track all through them to find the relevant one at any time;
  • I'm just tired, all right?

Sorry and all, I know it's all "me, me, me" but I'd like to do something else for a while, at least till the day job gets a bit less stressy. --Matt Westwood 07:14, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with you taking a break from the analysis. Part of the point of this is to enjoy what you are doing. --Cynic (talk) 17:11, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree, do whatever you enjoy doing! --Joe (talk) 03:08, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Questions on Mathematical Points

There's an interesting question posted on Definition talk:Anticommutative which really requires someone who knows their way around the subject to add their knowledge. All I know is what I've taught myself, and I have an idea as to the limits of knowing what I'm talking about, and this bit is right at the edge of my comfort zone.

Is there someone out there who knows their abstract algebra enough to be able to resolve exactly how anticommutativity is defined and render it accessible from first principles (or at least a chain of proofwiki links that are eventually first principles)? Both wikipedia and wolfram are limited on this subject.

Bigger question: this sort of thing crops up from time to time. Buried away as they are on a talk page means that not everyone may see them, or know of their existence. What would be nice would be for there to be an "unanswered questions" page somewhere prominent on which this sort of question (or links to the talk page on which they're raised) can be discussed. Then "movers and shakers" of our little community will be able to set a watch on that page and be alerted when something crops up that they can answer.

I don't want to suggest anything as elaborate as a forum (we do well enough with the mechanisms we have in place here), just a page like this one where we can specifically post up technical questions on finer points of mathematical interpretation. And possibly have a really good fight. ;-) --Matt Westwood 09:55, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Help:Questions? Or maybe we should make a Help:Math Questions? --Cynic (talk) 17:16, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure if we should put it under Help namespace. Maybe something like Proofwiki:Discussions or something like that. --Joe (talk) 18:10, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

That's the sort of thing. And "encourage" anyone particularly knowledgeable to bookmark it and/or set an alert on that page. (It's sometimes difficult to trawl through the recent changes specially when that Westwood bloke has had a busy day.) --Matt Westwood 21:52, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Shortcut for Abbreviations page

Would it be possible for a shortcut to be made that would automatically put [[Symbols:Abbreviations#]] in place? Then adding abbreviations to a page would be that much quicker. Thx if so. --Matt Westwood 18:34, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

I added [[Symbols:Abbreviations#]] to the bottom of the edit page. --Joe (talk) 16:23, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Nice one - thanks. --Matt Westwood 18:38, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Uncategorized Pages

This page is starting to get pretty big! --Joe (talk) 16:21, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Done my bit! --Matt Westwood 18:40, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Living Mathematicians

I've just had a thought: is it considered good form to include people on a website without asking their permission? I've posted up a few mathematicians on the Mathematicians page who may have liked to have been consulted first ... what is the etiquette? --Matt Westwood 21:01, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

From my perspective, notable mathematicians whose biographies are publicly available don't have to be consulted. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to contact them if you can find their contact info, but I don't think it's necessary. As long as you don't make (negative) subjective judgments about their work, since the info is available on wikipedia anyway I wouldn't concern yourself with listing the theorems that are named for them and their nationality and similar things. --Cynic (talk) 21:15, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Actually it's birth dates for some of our Mersenne prime finders I've been having difficulty with ... Goodnight all, I'm back to work tomorrow. --Matt Westwood 21:17, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, fair enough question. You could always leave that out for living mathematicians if it makes you feel better, but I personally think that if you can find it easily (as opposed to some obscure history of knot theorists texts or something) then you do no harm in putting it here. --Cynic (talk) 22:56, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Good Books

Yeah I know I keep getting sidetracked with history:

Worth putting together a page (a bit like the Mathematicians page) providing an overview of the influential books and papers that have appeared over the last two or three millennia or so, with appropriate links, so that interested readers can find where a particular proof or definition first appeared?

There are for example so many references to Euclid's "Elements" it would be so cool to place a link [[ProofWiki:Publications/Elements]], yeah?

Note that in this area we need to be careful about where we get our source info from. Most of the information found on Wikipedia about such things are normally got from another source, so it would also be very useful to provide templates that allow convenient addition of links to external sources (e.g. like there's one to MacTutor on Wikipedia itself). Just a thought. --Matt Westwood 08:44, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Citing Links

I've added a template "MacTutor Biography" which allows a convenient way to link to the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. It's sucha useful source work for mathematicians' biographies that everyone seems to quote it, and in order not to make sure we give appropriate credit, it makes sense to add the link to the biography pages (which I chip away at when the mood takes me).

Invoke it by:

{{MacTutor Biography|MacTutor Biography page name}}

where you've found what the page name is by looking at the page in question.

Other often-used external sites could be similarly treated. --Matt Westwood 11:00, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Disambiguation Pages

Since we've started doing disambiguation pages, I created a couple templates to place on the top of pages being disambiguated. Check out Template:About and Template:Otheruses and make changes/give input as needed. --Cynic (talk) 22:30, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Looks good so far - I'll start playing with them before long. --Matt Westwood 05:31, 19 May 2009 (UTC)


I'm taking a break for a few days. I'll keep in touch (I've got a watch on all the pages I've touched) but I've got something else I want to start work on so I won't be as busy here for a while.

I want to make a start on Formal Systems sometime. Trouble is, there are many approaches to this and if we want to make an inroad into it, we need to set up an area for each one, with its own set of "formal-system-specific" definitions in it. Not quite sure how to approach that.--Matt Westwood 09:50, 25 May 2009 (UTC)


While I'm doing something else ...

This came to me earlier: Some mathematical expositions flow in some sort of order. As the DB stands at the moment, no such order is apparent at all - it's not easy following a flow of thought from one end to another if it goes over several pages.

What do you think about a possible "next" and "previous" template, which can be (optionally) used to say: "This theorem leads on to Froggy's Theorem" and "This theorem follows directly from All Integers Are Interesting" or whatever.

Could even be used to link the theorems in The Elements together in the order they appear in the book. (Good job on the Euclid template btw.)

What's anyone else think?

I'll be back in a bit, I've got a minor project on at the moment which is taking most of my time. --Matt Westwood 19:41, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, pages already generally link to the pages they follow from in the text, so I don't really think we need that. Obviously, you can get the theorems that follow from a given theorem from the "what links here" page, but that might not always be ideal. IMO we don't need to link to all direct consequences of a given theorem, but if a theorem is really only used for one thing (a lemma or similar), then you might want a link. We could just put an "Important Consequences" section at the bottom of pages that it makes sense for. And yeah, I'm trying to figure out the best way to automatically link to the next and previous theorems so I don't have to do it by hand. --Cynic (talk) 20:51, 28 May

Unused Images

We should delete or use the images at Special:UnusedImages. Two trig diagrams, but I'm not sure what they were for, and a Mandelbrot set, whose purpose I am also unsure of. --Cynic (talk) 18:09, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Keep the Mandelbrot one (but rename it so it's spelt properly) because it rocks, we can use it as an icon/thumbnail for whatever template we may consider relevant.

The first trig one is for illustrating the Law of Cosines and has been superseded by a diagram showing the same thing but with a better name. The second one looks like it's for the theorem that says the angle at the center of a circle is twice that at the edge, I'm surprised we haven't got it in (or if we have I can't find it). Again, rename it as appropriate and make sure that theorem's in - or if it's already in with an equivalent diagram, bin it. --Matt Westwood 18:31, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I don't see an easy way to rename the Mandelbrot one, maybe Joe can. And just making sure, I should delete the cosine one? Oh, and the Inscribed Angle Theorem isn't up yet because it's proposition 20 of Euclid Book III, and I was going in order. I'll get there eventually (or skip to it when I feel like dealing with circles). --Cynic (talk) 19:03, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

What I did was copied the Madelbrot.jpg to my local machine, uploaded it again as Mandelbrot.jpg and deleted the original Madelbrot.jpg so we're left with Mandelbrot.jpg. I have also deleted Cos1.png. --Matt Westwood 22:08, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, I was curious if there was a faster way. --Cynic (talk) 03:12, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Yeah dealing with pictures is going to be somewhat of a pain. --Joe (talk) 13:01, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

All the better reason to make sure that the filename is as descriptive as possible. Also nice to add its usage into the comments. I will make sure I start to do that. --Matt Westwood 13:14, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Good idea. Also, the Image namespace is searchable, so that should help when looking for a picture. So long as we have lots of description. --Joe (talk) 14:44, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Conversation on talk page

When someone starts a conversation on someone else's talk page, do you think that person should respond on their own talk page (where the convo. was started), or on the other person's talk page? I'm not sure about you guys, but I find it hard to follow a conversation when it is spread across several talk pages. Any thoughts? --Joe (talk) 14:47, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, since a message left on a talk page flags the user either by email or when they log in (depending on their settings) I think it makes more sense to spread it across two pages. I personally check the recent changes list and always look at talk pages that have been edited, but I don't know if others (especially new users) check that regularly. --Cynic (talk) 17:24, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I'll chat on anyone's talk page, but I also get confused when it stretches over 2 pages. Specially when I'm trying to recall something that got discussed a while ago. If someone raises a question on mine, I tend to reply on theirs, but I'm also wondering whether to copy over back to mine as well. Then the conversation can continue wherever it continues. --Matt Westwood 18:27, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Experiment with Book category

I've set up a few templates: Book, BookLink, BookEntry with a view to building a page along the line of the Mathematicians one, just for notable books. Not sure quite where this is going, but I thought it would be a convenient way to enable links to identify the sources of various important entries, i.e. "This result first appeared in {{BookLink|The Elements|Euclid}}" for example.

If you don't think this is where we want this site to go, feel free to remove it all. --Matt Westwood 09:11, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Sounds like an interesting idea, lets see where it goes. --Joe (talk) 11:28, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Worth adding an entry in the "" column on the left, along with the "Mathematicians" link? I'd do it but I haven't worked out how (or whether I can). --Matt Westwood 11:30, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you want to put there, so you'll have to add it. The page is:mediawiki:sidebar. --Joe (talk) 12:52, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Thx - that's what I wanted to do. Early days yet, lots of playing around to do before it's at the sweet spot. --Matt Westwood 14:28, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Looks good! --Joe (talk) 16:15, 14 June 2009 (UTC)