I have a kid, 8 years old. The boy has phenomenal math skills. When he was 6 he was solving fractions with roots, writing Fibonacci series and much more.

Now he developed a new calculation algorithm that shocked his math teacher. Teacher has consulted with university professors and none of them knew this algorithm.

What could be done either to claim copyright, or that he gets get any kind of credit or recognition for it?

  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that it is really novel, but even if just rediscovery of something interesting, you could get an interesting paper done in a math ed journal at least. I think it would be a good experience and in no way hurt his future publication record. $\endgroup$ – guest Aug 25 '18 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ Note that mathematics cannot be patented, but that you can copyright the write up. I would advise you to be careful here; it is more likely than not that the kids result is either already known, not that interesting, or wrong. In those cases, it is important to let them down in an encouraging way. Otherwise, write it up! Submit it to arxiv.org and after a while submit it to a journal. Ask your local math professors for recommendations for which journal. $\endgroup$ – Adam Aug 25 '18 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, I recommed reading Terece Tao's article "Advice on gifted education". $\endgroup$ – eternalGoldenBraid Aug 25 '18 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @inéquation There are whole books of calculation algorithms for things like dividing by 7 that most mathematicians do not know (and have no interest in knowing). $\endgroup$ – Jessica B Aug 25 '18 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JessicaB There is the General Mathematics section of the arxiv, which is known for a rather broad acceptance policy. Regardless, we don't really know what "it" is, so it is hard to say what would be appropriate. The OP should talk to these (math?) professors directly. Ask some CS professors too. $\endgroup$ – Adam Aug 26 '18 at 0:37

It is highly unlikely that your child has developed a new algorithm for solving an interesting problem, but it is possible. It is a very good sign that they developed something that was new for themselves at that age.

  1. I recommend not trying to publish the work. If the child turns into a phenomenal mathematical genius, then their future accomplishments will almost certainly dwarf the present achievement. I do not believe that trying to publish the result would be a good way of nurturing the mathematical talents. Playing with numbers and formulae and finding like-minded people would be much more useful.

  2. You (plural) should still document the work as well as you can, maybe using mathematics teachers as an aide. The child can carry the algorithm with them and introduce it to future teachers, or just keep it in mind.

  3. If you do really want to find out if the algorithm is novel, then your goal is to introduce it to as highly educated mathematician as you can find. I do not know the educational system in your country, or your country for that matter, but a doctoral student (PhD student) should certainly be able to check the novelty quite fast. The problem is getting in touch with such a person.

  4. If there is a mathematics education program at a nearby university, then you might try to contact them and ask for advice on how to best encourage your child to grow their mathematical talents. This would also offer a way of discussing the algorithm, but I do not recommend leading with that.


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