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Random Question

  1. Jun 11, 2006 #1
    This is a very random question.

    Let's say, that a regular person who dosn't know very much about math just *HAPPENS* to stumble upon something mathematical and unheard off.... and works a little bit on it...

    Cases like these are not unheard off...many inventions and/or discoveries happened by accident.

    So, if somebody happens to find something mathematical by accident and has no idea how to write it up in a proper publishable way...then how would the person get it published?

    Do they just write it up as best as they could and submit it to a Journal?

    See... I told you it was completely random!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2006 #2


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    If you don't know much about math and "stumble upon something mathematical and unheard of" then you should (a) listen more carefully and (b) learn more about math and what others have done.

    Also, your expression "something mathematical" is way too vague to be meaningful. Last week, I saw four digits in the closing Dow-Jones Industral Average that represented my telephone number in reverse. That's "something mathematical" but I'm surely not about to get it published or to even try.

    Perhaps you would care to elaborate on your "discovery?"
  4. Jun 11, 2006 #3
    Oh yeah... thats true....

    I dont have a discovery, I was just asking out of general curiosity...

    You are very right that if somebody happens to discover someting new in mathematics is very unlikely...but I was just curious on how stuff gets published and out their...
  5. Jun 12, 2006 #4


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    I've never published in a (real) mathematical journal but I suppose it's similar to physics publications. Generally, you submit your paper to the editor and if he/she deems it suitable then the manuscript gets sent out to a number of referees for peer review. If they recommend publication then the paper will be published (page charges often apply).

    However, your manuscript had better pass muster because the standards (technically, stylistically, etc.) are quite high. Your work will be judged by highly competent and knowledgable people in the field who have little patience for amateurs "stumbling upon something mathematical and unheard of."
  6. Jun 12, 2006 #5


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    Probably the best thing such a person could do would be to discuss it with a local mathematics professor. (Ramanujan and Hardy come to mind- although I wouldn't say Hardy was "local" to Ramanujan!)
  7. Jun 12, 2006 #6
    wow... that is so complicated....

    Let me give you an example.

    Fermats Last Theorm, 4 Colour Problem, and Goldbachs Conjunteure are problems amatures take on since they don't need a professional education in math.

    Let's just say some amature solves one of these (i know FLT has been solved) for reall and it all makes perfect sense.

    However, since he/she is an amature, the paper is not going to be highly sytlistic and will be missing a lot of requirements for it to be published in a journal.

    So what would this individual do with his work? Who would he send it too for review?
  8. Jun 12, 2006 #7


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    It's not really all that complicated but it is stringent - and rightfully so!

    Halls gave a really good suggestion above - discuss it with a local math prof - which, in my opinion, is far better than discussing it with strangers in an online chatroom.
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