Archive for September 24th, 2010

Is the Tricki dead?

September 24, 2010

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. As most readers will know, at the very end of 2008 Alex Frolkin, Olof Sisask and I started the Tricki, a wiki-like website where people could post articles about mathematical techniques. The hope was that after the site had reached some level of completeness, it would be possible to take a mathematics research problem (or subproblem) and search efficiently for known techniques that were likely to be relevant. It would be doing something a little different from Wikipedia mathematics articles, which concentrate more on what I like to think of as “things with names”. For instance, if you suspect that discrete Fourier analysis is likely to be a useful tool for your problem, then you can type “discrete Fourier analysis” into Google and find many links, including to a Wikipedia article that contains many of the basic facts. But what if it doesn’t occur to you that discrete Fourier analysis is what you need (even though it in fact is)? The idea was that, using easily identifiable features of your problem, you would be able to follow links to ever more specific Tricki pages until you would reach a page that explained when discrete Fourier analysis was useful and how it was used. In general, the whole site would be about how to do mathematics rather than about lists of facts.