> I have a theory and I have been researching it for a few days and I

One problem in searching the mathematical literature for something is

> haven't found anything like it. I need to know where I can find if it

> has been made before but I don't want it to be stolen. So, if someone

> could show me a safe place to do that I would much appreciate it.

>

knowing what names others may have given to the object of interest. For

example about 10 years ago a couple of us were looking at subsets S of a

semigroup M that satisfy the property x,y in S ==> xy is NOT in S. We

figured that someone had looked at such sets before, but couldn't think of

what to look for, we thought of anti-subsemigroup, explosive subsets, and

other such things. A year later I happen accidentally across a book which

contained an article on sum-free set of integers. Which in case the binary

operation is addition is exactly what we had been looking at. There were

lots of papers on the subject.

But one thing you can do is if you have a formula of some kind that gives

an integer value f(n) for n = 1, n = 2, n = 3, ... and if you can

calculate a few terms, say, f(1),f(2),f(3),f(4). --then you can look this

sequence up in Sloane's wonderful Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences at

http://www.research.att.com/%7Enjas/sequences/index.html

and there is a pretty good possibility that you will find out something

about what you are looking for and if you are lucky (or unlucky--if you

didn't want it to be previously known) you may find references there.

You should also search the usual sites on the web. Assuming it is number

theory if you try different combinations of words and formulas you just

may find something by Googling around.

If you are willing to give us some hints of the general topic without

giving away your discovery, someone here may be able to direct you to a

place you may find something.

If you are at a university or college whose library subscribes to

MathSciNet, you should by all means search there. It contains abstracts of

almost all mathematical papers published in the world since 1940. It is

run by the American Mathematical Society. Unfortunately it is not

free. Libraries have to pay a lot for it. But you should be able to walk

off the street into any library that carries it and use it. As with Google

it requires skill and some luck to find what you are looking for.

Some people find it easier to just write up a discovery and send it to a

journal for publication. If it is not new or sufficiently interesting you

will usually be told. In my opinion there is very little chance of an idea

being stolen by a referee or editor from an article submitted for

publication. It may have happened, but I'm sure it is extremely rare and

not something to worry about.

Good luck with your discovery,

--Edwin

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W. Edwin Clark, Math Dept, University of South Florida,

http://www.math.usf.edu/~eclark/

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