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Math Publishing a solution to a Mathematics Problem

  1. Jul 14, 2012 #1
    Suppose that an amateur mathematician finds a solution to a major unsolved problem and they have written their full proof and would now like to publish it somewhere or at least have it critiqued by the professional community. What steps should they take?

    Additionally, lets say that the proof in question is completely correct (morally true) but is not formally rigorous (ie it has a lot of writing that could be converted into symbols). Would a journal accept this proof or would they demand that it has to be fully-formally rigorous? What steps must be taken so that they can accept the proof for publication?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2012 #2
    Hey Frogeyedpeas.

    For something like a proof, yes it would have to be a rigorous one. Each journal has specific standards and requirements for submitting articles and depending on the nature of the journal itself, even if you provided a well polished paper that has been at least internally reviewed by some of your peers, there's no gaurantee that it will get put it and you can read some of the threads here on their experiences of submitting journal articles and they were/are professors.

    In short, it's best if you actually visit the website of a specific journal and get the criteria for submission and take it from there.

    As a start though, I'd recommend to take your idea and condense it into something that is unambiguous and written for mathematicians to understand and then post this in the relevant section in the forums. We have a lot of experienced people here who will be able to least find any glaring flaws if they exist.

    There are other forums as well like stackexchange, but I recommend this way because its not an intrusive way of verification and people are willing to do this kind of thing online because, well, this is the purpose of online forums ;).

    I wouldn't recommend you email someone and ask them to check it for you, but if you prepare your proof in simple terms and then create a thread asking for verification, you should get a response with some feedback.
  4. Jul 14, 2012 #3


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    Er... no. This is in violation of the PF Rules.

  5. Jul 14, 2012 #4
    Theories are not proofs. We're not talking about a theory for physics or chemistry, we're talking about a mathematical proof which is entirely different.

    There are many instances where people talk about mathematical proofs in the forums.

    I can understand why you moderate scientific theories, but what's the premise behind a mathematical proof?
  6. Jul 15, 2012 #5
    Maybe you could try putting it on arXiv.
  7. Jul 15, 2012 #6
    Well, it's not just a proof he's talking about, it's a completely new solution to a problem that currently has no solution that the poster is talking about, so I can see how it violates the rules. It isn't the fact that it's a proof that makes it against the rules, it's the use of this forum to peer review your new solution before publication that isn't allowed.

    Also, I'm super curious...can you at least say which problem it is?
  8. Jul 15, 2012 #7


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    As has been mentioned in the previous post, if it is new, and the member hasn't published it in a peer-reviewed journal, then trying to get feedback and working it out on here is in violation of the rules. It doesn't matter if it is a "proof", a "theory", or a spherical cow.

  9. Jul 15, 2012 #8


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    There is no such thing as a moral or immoral (or even amoral) mathematical proof. Either it's logically correct or it isn't. And if it isn't correct, it isn't a proof.

    The notation doesn't matter so much as the logic - though obviously if you are using lots of words instead of well known math symbols, that is both rather pointless and easy to fix.
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