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I have been working on a problem (not in mathematics) for a while and at the core there is a simply stated mathematical problem which I really cannot solve. I have tried asking colleagues but they can't either. As far as I can tell it is not equivalent to some known problem either.

I am not myself a professional mathematician so I see no prospect of my being able to solve it. However I would love to know if it is true or not. Is there some forum to place non-trivial simply stated mathematical conjectures? Or should I just put the whole paper on the arXiv and forget it?

  • If you want to publish it, please see this question academia.stackexchange.com/q/2375/546 – scaaahu Apr 3 '15 at 10:07
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    However, I definitely agree with @Riccardo, ask it on Math SE or Mathoverflow. – scaaahu Apr 3 '15 at 10:08
  • @scaaahu Thank you. The question is what to do after no useful answer comes from that ? I suppose I am looking for an "open problems" list somewhere I can contribute to. Or did you mean ask the question I posed here and not the technical math question? – notamathmo Apr 3 '15 at 10:10
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    I think you can worry about open problem list after you ask it on Math SE/Mathoverflow. – scaaahu Apr 3 '15 at 10:14
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    @notamathmo: unfortunately an "open problems" list would in principle include pretty much everything of any interest that any mathematician is working on anywhere in the world. So, not really surveyable in the way that your todo list is even on a bad day ;-) – Steve Jessop Apr 3 '15 at 22:13
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"Is there some forum to place non-trivial simply stated mathematical conjectures?" As far as I know , http://math.stackexchange.com can be a good place where to start.

If the methods required turn out to be more sophisticated, you can try asking on http://mathoverflow.net .

I am almost sure that on these sites you'll receive the right advices for your mathematical question

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    Thank you. I should perhaps have said that I did think of those. I have done a lot of research and am sure the problem is not trivial. Are those places not more suited to problems with quick solutions? – notamathmo Apr 3 '15 at 10:03
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    No offence intended, but if you are not a professional mathematician there are reasonable chances that your problem is an easy one for a professional, or at least one that has been studied already and for which partial solutions and a developed theory exist. The first thing to do in my opinion is asking a mathematician (either on math.se or in person). – Federico Poloni Apr 3 '15 at 11:04
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    @FedericoPoloni I had assumed that "I have tried asking colleagues but they can't either. " might have meant he/she asked some colleague mathematicians. – dorothy Apr 3 '15 at 11:56
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    +1, this is what the sites math.SE and mathoverflow are for. @dorothy: if one is not working in a subject, then one usually doesn't even know who to ask. If I had a chemistry question, then (i) I would surely phrase it in a nonstandard way even if it were really standard and (ii) I wouldn't know who to ask, other than "some chemist". If the OP's question is one that many mathematicians know the answer to quickly but not all mathematicians, asking on these sites will be very helpful. – Pete L. Clark Apr 3 '15 at 13:18
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    In fact, to believe that something is really not known / easy / standard, one has to hear from a few experts in the field that they don't know how to answer it. That I don't know the answer to someone's question can be helpful information to them (and even what they want to hear, sometimes). But there's a big difference between "I don't know, but ask her" and "I'm the one who would know, and I don't", and I think an outsider to a field has no way to make these kind of evaluations. – Pete L. Clark Apr 3 '15 at 13:21

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