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I provided an answer on the Mathematics Stack Exchange that takes a programming approach to a mathematical problem (a la Project Euler).

Instinctively, I feel like my answer is "off topic" since the site exists for people studying mathematics, even though the site doesn't explicitly label CS as being off-topic. Nevertheless, the answer I provided is a valid solution for the stated problem.

Is it possible for an answer to be valid, but still considered "off-topic"? If so, is it acceptable to post the answer anyway?

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Mathematicians use computers too. They surf the net just like the rest of us. –  Robert Harvey Jan 24 '13 at 22:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You're okay as long as your answer solves the problem within the confines of both of the following:

  • The question constraints - so if a question says, "I'm trying to achieve an effect using watercolors, as that's all I have," and you give an answer involving oil paints or a photocopier, you're not answering the question.
  • The site scope constraints - If your answer to a Seasoned Advice question on how to make a certain type of thin crust pizza was to order take-in, you're violating the site scope constraints, which establish that ALL questions relate to the preparation and cooking of food (rather than the purchasing of it)

In your example, you seem to pass both tests, so your answer is on-topic. As to helpful, you may get fewer upvotes since part of the user base may not be able to use your suggestion, but that's a score issue, rather than an on-topic one.

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That clears it up for me, thanks! –  Kevin K Jan 24 '13 at 23:23

It's possible, but in this specific case, most of those other answers are also computational answers. I don't hang around on the Mathematics Meta, so I don't know if they eschew computational solutions, but I don't see what's wrong with that.

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@Bart, hmmm, you're right I missed that, thanks. I've now edited to a completely different answer. –  Lance Roberts Jan 24 '13 at 22:25

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