Research is changing. With the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, there are endless new avenues for scholars to share information, collaborate on their work, and come up with results more quickly than ever.
One of the most impressive examples of this is the Polymath Project. In January 2009, Tim Gowers wrote a piece on the possibility of open research in mathematics via a blog or wiki. From there, Gowers—along with Michael Nielsen, Terence Tao, and Gil Kalai—launched a discussion on the density Hales-Jewett theorem. Several hundred participants and a month later, the combinatorial proof was declared essentially complete.
Most notably, that proof of DHJ(k) was formally written up and is available on the arXiv. The complex issue of authorship—How does one attribute authorship to hundreds of participants?—was solved by submitting the paper under the appropriate pseudonym “D.H.J. Polymath”.
Gowers and Nielsen published an article in Nature about the Polymath project and its implications for open source science. For more information on the Project, there is an extensive list of articles and background on the Polymath Wiki. Also, if you’d like to discuss the Polymath Project further, talk with Tyler Dzuba in the Math/Physics Library.
Participation in the Polymath Project is open to all, so it would be very exciting if some of our established and rising scholars at Carolina would get involved. What do you think?