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Is a question like the following

What are the major challenges in [research field]?

off topic?

For research field I don't mean a really general field like languages or theorical computer science, but even a really detailed topic. For instance, such a research field could be AI by machine learning, dynamic analysis, malware detection, complexity classes etc.

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Offtopic -- no, certainly not!

But too broad and opinion-based, as D.W. notes. You are asking for surveys of a field, not a question that can be answered.

You should search for surveys, and (failing that) get in touch with researchers in the field you are interested in.

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That's probably too broad to be a good fit. It doesn't sound like the sort of thing that can be answered in a few paragraphs. At the level you're talking about, a field might have hundreds or thousands of researchers working on it, so a list of all challenges that someone considers major might be quite lengthy.

Also, which challenges are major or important are to some extent a matter of opinion.

A good way to get a feeling for what problems people think are important -- or at least or working on -- is to skim through the titles and abstracts of papers published at top conferences in the field.

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  • $\begingroup$ In my experience, some of these big list questions turn out to be rather useful when there are no up-to-date recent surveys. So if phrased well and they are not too frequent I personally would support them. But the question should demonstrate that the author has spend reasonable time trying to find the answer upon themselves. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 1 '17 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Also for major problems in CS, iirc, there is a Wikipedia page, so if the question is as broad as that then closing the question makes sense to me. If it is more specific and the articles on Wikipedia do not answer it, it would be a more reasonable question. What I personally don't like is when people who have not spent any time researching the answer and are not going to use the answers for anything post such questions out of idle curiosity. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 1 '17 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh In such cases, I think the more productive way would be to collaborate to write a survey and put it on arXiv. Where to start discussing this, I have no idea. I'd like to propose Computer Science Chat, but few people hang around there. Maybe CS needs another platform for such things? Don't know who'd populate it, though. Few researchers take the time to survey and/or summarize/simplify. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Oct 9 '17 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael, I think this is not much different from canonical docs on SO. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 9 '17 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh Maybe. Note how they wanted to introduce Documentation precisely because Stack Overflow itself doesn't work well for that kind of thing! $\endgroup$ – Raphael Oct 9 '17 at 7:27

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