I am a master’s student studying mathematics (from Germany), currently writing my master’s thesis. In total, I have around six months to prepare, write and finish my thesis.
My advisor gave me an open problem to work on and he does not expect that I will solve it, but he expects that I am able to make new contributions on it, so that I have something new for my thesis. However, many established researchers in this research area are trying to attack this problem as well and for many years, but no one was able to proof even special cases or intermediate results until now. And my advisor doesn’t really know how to attack this problem as well, and this is one of the reasons why he does not guide me.
Already at the very beginning I told him that I’m pessimistic to be able to do this, but I just wanted to give it a try and I didn’t know that I have to work completely on my own. Now, I have tried it for two to three months, and all my attempts failed and my ideas didn’t work. Furthermore, my professional knowledge is still very limited, meanwhile I hit the wall and don’t know how to proceed.
I literally explained my advisor that I need his help and guidance to make some progress and I have told him all my attempts. The only reaction is always: He doesn’t know it either, and every time he just gives me another open problem (sometimes liked to the old one), without any idea how to attack these other problems. After trying the other suggestions, unsuccessfully, I decided to work on the first problem again (but still without any progress). I asked him again for help, and I literally explained him my situation that I'm stuck, and giving me another open problems is not that type of help which I need, what I need is guidance. But still no help.. Since I have to hand in a thesis this summer and there is no possibility to change the advisor, I really don't know what to do...
Do you have any idea or suggestion what I can do, or do you have similar experience? Or if it’s too opinion-based: what are possible ways to get out of such or similar situations?