Tricki is up (kinda sorta)

I was starting to think it was some kind of vapourware, but the Tricki is up to view (via Tim Gowers ). You can’t edit yet, and it’s small. The articles there at the moment are well written (when they are complete).

I hope the project works. The sort of information that it is designed to contain is not easily available anywhere else. It’s the nature of maths that you can give a completely convincing explanation of why something is true (a proof) without giving away very much at all about how you came to know it was true (the endless headdesking before the proof). AFAIK there is no other field of study where this is true to anything like the same extent. For better or worse, the normal style of a maths journal paper positively encourages hiding the process that lead you to the result. Thus, the only way you can usually find out tools for proof is by having somebody show you, and it’s obviously rather hit-and-miss as to whether you will ever explain your problem to the person with the right trick up their sleeve. Somewhere to pool this sort of information and a decent way of navigating it will be very useful indeed.

I also think it has a fairly good chance of working well. I can see possible problems; it would be hard (and probably counter-productive) to set down very firm rules about how articles should be( such as exist at Wikipedia) s conflict resolution will rely on people being reasonable. I think this won’t be too bad though because (IME and compared to academics in other disciplines) mathematicians have, typically, as a group, fairly good habits with respect collaboration.

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One Response to “Tricki is up (kinda sorta)”

  1. toomuchcoffeeman Says:

    One I remember fondly from my undergrad days is this one (in the context of something to do with Poisson processes, which I’ve long since forgotten):

    “When in doubt, interchange the order of integration and summation. Miracles can occur.”

    I wonder if it’s already on the wiki?

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