The polymath blog


This group blog, together with its associated wiki, is intended to host “polymath” projects – massively collaborative mathematical research projects. The ground rules for such projects can be found here.

Note that LaTeX is supported in the comments of this blog.  Unfortunately, comment editing and preview is not available; you will need to contact a moderator or administrator to fix a comment.

Discussion on the design and format of polymath projects can be made here.  Discussion of the rules, organisation, philosophy, and strategy of these projects can be made here.  LaTeX questions or sandbox experiments can be made here.  Technical blog questions can be made as comments to this page.  Any questions, comments, or requests that do not fit anywhere else can go on this page.

If you wish to make your own polymath project proposal, you can either make your own blog post for the proposal (and, if it is a wordpress blog, use the tag or category “polymath proposals” so that it will show up in this list), or to put it on this wiki page.  You can also discuss the proposal on this thread.

To follow this blog in a feed aggregator using RSS, use the link

The administrators of this blog are


  1. […] to solve the problem, pitch in and help over at the Polymath blog. But please be polite: read some background first, and take a look at some of the research threads to get a feel for how things work, and […]

    Pingback by Michael Nielsen » Finding Primes: A Fun Subproblem — September 1, 2009 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  2. […] to solve, please start reading here. Coming to think about it, this is basically just another polymath-project. With the only difference that not a lot of people participate Hopefully that’ll change […]

    Pingback by More sensible heuristics « Woett's Blog — October 20, 2010 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  3. […] has combined volunteering, the internet and mobile phones to pioneer a new form of activism to the Polymath project, launched by the Cambridge University mathematician Tim Gowers, to allow mathematicians to work […]

    Pingback by What will Change Everything? – Mohan Das — January 12, 2011 @ 1:33 am | Reply

  4. […] polymath project […]

    Pingback by GIP Everywhere « Free Mind — June 9, 2011 @ 7:40 am | Reply

  5. […] The Polymath project, his opening story, is one of the best examples of how and why open science works. Tim Gowers, a Fields medalist, posted a famous mathematical problem on his blog, an open invitation to anyone interested to try their hand at solving it. For the first 70 hours, nothing happened. Then a math professor left a comment, quickly followed by a high school teacher, another Fields medalist and so on. In the span of 37 days, over 800 comments collectively solved the problem. How many conferences and scientific papers, peer reviews boards and editorial revisions would it have taken to even get these diverse minds thinking together in the same space? Nielsen describes it as the difference between “driving and pushing your car”. […]

    Pingback by Science meets Web « NextBio's Blog — July 1, 2011 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  6. […] the classic example you use in your talks is the Polymath Project—an experiment in massively collaborative mathematics. Do you see a future for this type of […]

    Pingback by Reinventing Scientific Discovery: An Interview with Michael Nielsen | Open Society Foundations Blog - OSF — January 23, 2012 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  7. […] and studying the workings and ideas of others would lead to a solution. This experiment was the Polymath project. Michael says that he observed the blog at the time and was amazed by the speed of activity; how […]

    Pingback by Open Science #ioe12 | Squire Morley — February 16, 2012 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  8. […] was solved faster than anyone would have thought possible thanks to what is now known as the Polymath Project, an online collaboration of a large and decentralized group of mathematicians (both professional […]

    Pingback by How Social Media Is Already Changing Ocean Science | Response and Restoration Blog — February 24, 2012 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  9. […] and collectively make easy work of his hard mathematical problem. He dubbed the experiment the Polymath Project. […]

    Pingback by Un inicio « la ciencia hacker — April 9, 2012 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  10. […] a large group of mathematicians, and use that group mind to solve hard problems. Thus was born the Polymath project, chronicled by Michael Nielsen on his blog and in his important new book, Reinventing […]

    Pingback by Owning Your Words: Personal Clouds Build Professional Reputations | Matias Vangsnes — April 28, 2012 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

    • Personally I think governments suhold fund a mechanism to pay a fixed (low) fee for article processing in Open Access journals for any work meeting a certain (low) quality threshold and is wholly or partly public funded. Alternatively they suhold set up a no-frills journal/repository which fulfils this function. It suhold allow text figures to be formatted based on markup code similar to wikipedia. Tools for automatic content- and social recommendations and post-publication review and commentary suhold be developed. We suhold move away from journal impact factors and directly measure the readership, citation and peer-recommendations of individual articles. Government has the resources to do this and the motivation, since it is largely government money which is subsidising the publisher’s huge profits at the moment.Any commercial journal which can survive the competition (e.g., by offering greater impact, selectivity, better peer review, better search/recommendation) would be free to charge subscriptions and limit access as market conditions dictate. The bulk of commercial journals are unlikely to survive since they fail to add sufficient value to the articles. Research funders suhold also consider charging commercial publishers for the raw material they currently provide for free.

      Comment by Lhya — May 31, 2012 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  11. […] One of the projects that Nielsen is involved in is the Polymath projects.  […]

    Pingback by Polyclimate | Climate Etc. — October 1, 2012 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  12. […] success is in this arena is rare (the Polymath Project is a notable exception), but the right tools are emerging and the culture towards using them is […]

    Pingback by Science metrics, LitRoost, and the networked era | The UnStudent Blog — July 2, 2013 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  13. “Proposals on WordPress” in sidebar links to!/read/topic/polymath-proposals

    Unfortunately now at this URL there is only one proposal (by Terrence Tao), all other proposals have disappeared.

    Comment by porton — July 27, 2013 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  14. […] I announce a new project akin to Polymath Project. Please participate in solving my open […]

    Pingback by Wiki to prove that certain categories are cartesian closed | Victor Porton's Math Blog — November 25, 2013 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

  15. […] individuale come la matematica si sta arrendendo alla collaborazione, come è avvenuto nel progetto Polymath di Tim Gowers. Tuttavia, continua Highfield, il cinema ci insegna che le persone si identificano […]

    Pingback by Salvate la ricerca di base! | Blog di Luigi Foschini — April 21, 2015 @ 11:32 am | Reply

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