There is a similar question: Should questions that are useful and relevant on Mathematics SE be copied across to Operations Research SE?

But mine is about questions that could go on Mathematics or MathOverflow. Robert Cartaino's answer to the previous question said "The purpose of creating this site is to expand the scope of questions which cannot already be asked elsewhere. Certainly some incidental overlap in scope is to be expected, but the goal of having your own site is to curate a collection of content unique to this community specifically; not to simply copy content from elsewhere."

In this case I'm not wondering about copying content from other sites, but if a question like:

Is there any base $b$ such that $\lceil \log_b (k)\rceil -1 \ne \lceil \log_b (k/b) \rceil$?

came up in an OR context and I asked it here, would it be nominated for closure or deletion because it can be asked on Mathematics or MathOverflow? What if I generally like the community here at OR more than at those places (it's a hypothetical question because I've actually never had a bad experience on Mathematics and I haven't ever even used MathOverflow!) and therefore wish to see what OR people's perspective on this question is, more than what the bigger "Math" communities have to say?


1 Answer 1


I would say if a question is "pure" math and is likely to be of interest to non-OR mathematicians more than to OR folks, it would be better asked on Math.SE or MO. That seems to be the case for your particular example. We're flattered if you like our community :) but that's not sufficient reason to ask a question here that's not really in scope.

After all, if the phrase "reductio ad absurdum" came up in an OR context and you wanted to know its etymology, you'd ask on Latin.SE; if a typesetting question arose when you were writing a paper, you'd ask on TeX.SE; if a question about power flows arose when studying a power-optimization problem, you'd ask on Electrical Engineering, etc.

I'm being a little facetious here, but my point is: Just because the question arose in an OR context doesn't mean it's an OR question.

On the other hand, if you particularly wanted an OR perspective, I think you could ask your math question here, as long as your question makes clear the sort of approach you are looking for, and how it would be different from the perspective on math.SE or MO. (For example, you are formulating an optimization problem in which a variable needs to equal $b$, where $b$ is a base such that...)

Also, there are lots of questions that could be in scope either here or on math.SE (or on SO, or CrossValidated, or other sites). In that case, our "what can I ask?" page says that

you can use your own best judgment about which site to ask on, based on your own preference and on the type of answer you are hoping to receive.

There's no clear-cut partitioning among the sites, so if you think a question could fit here, you can always ask, and the community will decide by commenting and/or voting whether we think it's in scope.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Larry. I fully understand that this question can be asked in other places, but what I am not sure about is if a question like this (and for future users that have math questions that come up in OR!) would be un-welcome here. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ I guess I’m saying that particular example would (in my opinion) be out of scope here. To me, that is not an OR question — it is a math question. But it’s not a hard and fast rule, and there are certainly questions that could be in scope either place. So in general I’d say, if you want to ask it here and you think it might be in scope, try it, and we’ll let you know what we think through the normal mechanisms. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ It might get downvotes though, so I won't ask this one here! But I thought asking a Meta question could also be helpful to future users who want to ask Math questions here (when they are a bit more OR related). Can you move my CS question to OR? cs.stackexchange.com/questions/109039/… $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ Most people will vote-to-close rather than downvote if it's just a scope issue. Not that there's anything wrong with a few downvotes. Your Meta question is certainly helpful. On the other hand, the general advice is, don't ask if you can ask; just ask. So, feel free to ask away. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ About migrating your CS question: We can't migrate questions away from another site to OR, only the opposite direction. You'd have to ask a CS mod to migrate it here. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 3:05

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