My motivation for this question is the response to my question here, which garnered a vote to close for being too mathy. Supportive comments and upvoting seemed to have saved that particular question from death, but for future reference, are questions about other fields with applications in CS theory considered OK? For instance, would CS-oriented questions on these topics be considered on-topic?

  • discrete fourier analysis
  • metric geometry
  • geometry of polytopes

All of these are definitely pure math, but flip through a recent STOC/FOCS proceedings, and you're likely to see a lot of proofs that use theorems and tools from these fields.

My personal opinion is that if we want TheoryOverflow to be useful to working researchers, then we have to allow questions about the tools and techniques used in TCS and that means allowing appropriate questions from areas of math with applications in TCS. Such questions could be asked on MathOverflow, but I do not see a bit of overlap as a problem, and people here are likely to have both interest in such questions as well as the expertise needed to answer them.

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    $\begingroup$ Many questions here would be on-topic on MO, too, and I don't see any problems with that. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2010 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely all of the above topics are within scope. In fact I'm trying to formulate an answer for your original question ! I think it was an error to vote to close that one. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2010 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see any problem with asking pure math questions as long as they are interesting for theoretical computer scientists. (personally I would ask them (also) on MO expecting to get better answers as MO has more experts in various areas of pure mathematicians.) $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Aug 28, 2010 at 7:05

1 Answer 1


Given the large overlap between math and TCS, my recommendation for questions that might seem out of scope for this site is to do nothing. Either they won't get much attention, or someone will post something, indicating that the question is within scope. Since we don't have a problem with cross posting to MO within limits, that seems the most effective 'let the community decide' strategy.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this. I think, though, we should encourage posters to make clear the relevance to computer science whenever it is not easy to see. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2010 at 13:10

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