I figured it was a shame that one of the biggest open questions in theoretical computer science was not listed here as a question. True, nobody has an answer (probably), but still.

Some might argue that it is not a fitting question since in theory it will not be answered, but what are you going to flag it for?

spam - Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation.

This does not apply.

rude or abusive - A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.

I don't think so.

should be closed... This question is completely unclear, incomplete, overly-broad, primarily opinion-based or is not about research-level theoretical computer science as described in the help center, and it is unlikely to be fixed via editing.

The question is clear, complete, specific, not opinion-based, and about research-level theoretical computer science.

a duplicate... This question has been asked before and already has an answer.

Other questions are related, but not the same. And it doesn't have an answer.

in need of moderator intervention A problem not listed above that requires action by a moderator. Be specific and detailed!

I guess you could call on this to get the question closed for being 'not constructive', but then the question would still be listed, and that was the point.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since it doesn't have any answer (yet), then it'll mostly be closed as "primarily opinion-based" because there's no factual answer. SE is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 7:28

3 Answers 3


The purpose of this stack exchange, like every other stack exchange, is not to list questions. It’s to list answers. Obviously people ask questions that don’t get answered all the time, but an explicit goal is to have as high of a percentage of answered questions as possible.

There are a number of questions related to P vs NP that have been asked in the past, and many of them have been answered and many more have generated fruitful discussion and partial answers. So, there are productive and on-topic questions that can be asked about the problem. However, “does P equal NP?” with no further context, ideas, or thoughts is not one of them.


Having such questions might have some value, but also some downsides.

  • It might attract somewhat low-quality answers by people who think they can solve the problem (now that might be a good thing or a bad thing depending what you want the site to be about).

  • StackExchange, and Stack Overflow as the model site in particular, encourages questions that have a good chance of being answered.

This has been discussed before, for instance at: tag wiki: [open-problem]


In general, questions on cstheory require a demonstration of a certain amount of background and prior thought on the question. They have to be 'research level'.

From my experience, most attempts at asking "P vs NP" on StackExchange tend to not show a knowledge of existing barriers to approaching this question, or the vast literature on it. This makes them not research level questions, and thus off-topic. Research is not just about asking something that we don't know the answer to, it is about knowing how to formulate a good question that we can hope to answer.

You are, however, welcome to ask specific research level questions on techniques that people are trying towards the P vs NP question, or (more likely) important open sub-questions along the way. Such specific questions tend to show knowledge of the existing literature, tools, and their boundaries and thus are on-topic as research level questions.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .