In the last two years, I ran a “mini-polymath” project to solve one of the problems of that year’s International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).  This year, the IMO is being held in the Netherlands, with the problems being released on July 18 and 19, and I am planning to once again select a question (most likely the last question Q6, but I’ll exercise my discretion on which problem to select once I see all of them).

The format of the last year’s mini-polymath project seemed to work well, so I am inclined to simply repeat that format without much modification this time around, in order to collect a consistent set of data about these projects.  Thus, unles the plan changes, the project will start at a pre-arranged time and date, with plenty of advance notice, and be run simultaneously on three different sites: a “research thread” over at the polymath blog for the problem solving process, a “discussion thread” over at this blog for any meta-discussion about the project, and a wiki page at the polymath wiki to record the progress already made at the research thread.  (Incidentally, there is a current discussion at the wiki about the logo for that site; please feel free to chip in your opinion on the various proposed icons.)  The project will follow the usual polymath rules (as summarised for instance in the 2010 mini-polymath thread).

There are some kinks with our format that still need to be worked out, unfortunately; the two main ones that keep recurring in previous feedback are (a) there is no way to edit or preview comments without the intervention of one of the blog maintainers, and (b) even with comment threading, it is difficult to keep track of all the multiple discussions going on at once.  It is conceivable that we could use a different forum than the WordPress-based blogs we have been using for previous projects for this mini-polymath to experiment with other software that may help ameliorate (a) and (b) (though any alternative site should definitely have the ability to support some sort of TeX, and should be easily accessible by polymath participants, without the need for a cumbersome registration process); if there are any suggestions for such alternatives, I would be happy to hear about them in the comments to this post.  (Of course, any other comments germane to the polymath or mini-polymath projects would also be appropriate for the comment thread.)

The other thing to do at this early stage is set up a poll for the start time for the project (and also to gauge interest in participation).  For ease of comparison I am going to use the same four-hour time slots as for the 2010 poll.  All times are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is essentially the same as GMT; conversions between UTC and local time zones can for instance be found on this web site.   For instance, the Netherlands are at UTC+2, and so July 19 4m UTC (say) would be July 19 6pm in Netherlands local time.  (I myself will be at UTC-7.)