*This topic was split from the discussion of Minnesota Open 2011. --mgmt.*So, um, since I just only saw the set a couple days ago, I'm going to post my (inflation-adjusted) $0.02 on the Feit-Thompson tossup and the more general phenomenon of quizbowl math.

First, full disclosure: I would have totally powered the Feit-Thompson tossup, and because I'm a gigantic nerd I probably would have actually powered it in high school. (I read a lot about group theory instead of having friends.) Yet I agree with basically everyone else that it was too hard for a tossup. Nevertheless, I think it's important to take away the correct lesson from this experience; that lesson is

*not*"avoid all tossups from 20th-century math/stuff that people don't have 'real knowledge' of entirely."

As a math person and a quizbowl player, I'm usually kinda disappointed in the answerline selection for most tournaments. The answerlines tend to be chosen a few basic concepts from analysis ("Fourier/Laplace/Mellin transform"), algebra ("ring," "Chinese remainder theorem," "eigenvalue"), or general topology ("open," "compact"), or else be about long-dead mathematicians -- I'm not sure I've ever heard a tossup on a more recent mathematician than von Neumann. Maybe John Nash, I guess. I'm sure that this is a pretty common experience in fields in which one is "expert" -- e.g., Dargan's annoyance that contemporary poetry almost never comes up. But I think that in the case of math, it can be mitigated somewhat. It's true that you have to be a really hard-core algebraist to have read any part of the proof of Feit-Thompson (I've read part of the proof of the Suzuki CA(?) theorem and even it is exhausting) but this doesn't mean that math people don't have knowledge about Feit-Thompson. Clearly it would be a bad idea to write a tossup on Shin Mochizuki for any tournament (except the forthcoming Alabama Interuniversal* Hard Math Open), but a hard part on the ABC conjecture, for instance, would likely be fine at hard or even regular+ tournaments. Because mathematicians, and math grad students and even the more involved undergrads, tend to know about major breakthroughs and avenues of research in subfields outside their own. Similarly, if you want to reward people for knowing what Feit-Thompson is about, you can probably work it into a tossup on groups or solvable or simple groups -- to be fair, this sort of thing does happen a good bit.

So, if anything, quizbowl should have

*more*acknowledgment of hard math like Feit-Thompson (even beyond stuff like RH and Poincare). But there are far better ways of rewarding knowledge of these things than writing tossups on them.

Okay, this was probably all super-obvious to people like Eric and Jerry and Matt Weiner, and even other folks. But I just want to put it out there, that I personally would love to see all sorts of crazy clues and/or hard parts about, like, Schramm-Loewner evolution and Floer homology, and that it wouldn't take away much if anything from teams without a really strong math player. If nothing else, think that more people understand those things than understand, like, Jacques Lacan, who is a pretty reasonable hard tossup answerline.

*That's a Shin Mochizuki joke -- don't worry if you don't get it.