Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Open Problem wiki!

A blog entry of Lance's on open problems noted that it would be good to have a repository of open problems. Perhaps a wiki or something.

I recently go the following email that may be an answer:
I am writing you in (very belated) response to a post on your blog in mid March. You posted a message called "A Place for Open Problems" where you suggest: "We need some Web 2.0 system. A blog or wiki to post the problems. A tagging method to mark the area and status. A voting system to rank the importance of the problem. A commenting system for discussion. A sophisticated RSS system for tracking. A visual appealing and simple interface. And most importantly, someone willing to put it all together for no compensation beyond the thanks of the community."

Together with Robert Samal, we have just finished the construction of a system which matches your request quite closely. There are still some small modifications we are making, but it is alive and fully functional, and we would greatly appreciate any input/publicity from you and your readers. Our website is called "The Open Problem Garden" and lives at the following url: here it is

Hope you enjoy it.

Best, Matt DeVos
I corrected them about Lance making that posting, not me. Of much more importance - they have a wiki!! Is it good to use? Will we use it? This is one of those chicken-and-egg problems where if enough people use it then it will be a good resource. Of course, Matt and Robert are not innocent bystanders- if it has a good interface and other features then we are more likely to use it. It seems to be open problems in all of mathematics, though computer science theory is a category. If there was a wiki tailored to Theory would that be better or worse? I would guess worse because the distinction can be artificial anyway.

And of course there is the issue of- are you better off working on your open problems or posting them? It may come down to this:
Which is greater, your curiosity or your ego?


  1. Bravo! This is a great resource!

  2. Nice Work! Will be a very useful resource!

    Oddly, many of the open problems posted do not have any references to papers. I guess it will be useful to have a "References section" so that people dont forget to add references.

  3. This is really great !
    Interface is very good.
    I added an entry on "Graceful Tree Conjecture" in less than 5 minutes.

    btw, it would be nice to have more categories. For example : A subtopic on "Combinatorial Graph Theory" under "Graph Theory".

  4. Is there a "Wiki of Problems" in engineering subjects (especially electrical/computer engineering)?

  5. I'm glad that you like our Garden.
    If you have any suggestions how to improve it, we'll be glad to hear them (here - or maybe better yet - in the Suggestion forum on our site).

    In particular: we're looking for the "right" way to categorize comp. science problems. We are working in graph theory, so currently the site is somewhat biased towards what we know about.

    We hope you will help it grow in other directions, too!