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Math Science

Randomly Generated Math Article Accepted By 'Open-Access' Journal 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the stochastically-orthogonal-and-trivially-affine dept.
call -151 writes "Many years ago, a human-generated intentionally nonsense paper was accepted by the (prominent) literary culture journal Social Text. In August, a randomly-generated nonsense mathematics paper was accepted by one of the many low-tier 'open-access' research mathematics journals. The software Mathgen, which generated the accepted submission, takes as inputs author names (or those can be randomly selected also) and generates nicely TeX'd and impressive-sounding sentences which are grammatically correct but mathematically disconnected nonsense. This was reviewed by a human, (quickly, for math, in 12 days) and the reviewers' comments mention superficial problems with the submission (PDF). The references are also randomly-generated and rather hilarious. For those with concerns about submitting to lower-tier journals in an effort to promote open access, this is not a good sign!"
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Randomly Generated Math Article Accepted By 'Open-Access' Journal

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  • Argument (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:09AM (#41705259) Journal

    have facts for those who think and arguments for those who reason. For the sake of review, if five years ago I had described a person like Mr. Slasdhot Person to you and told you that in five years he'd fill the air with recrimination and rancor, you'd have thought me contumelious. You'd have laughed at me and told me it couldn't happen. So it is useful now to note that, first, it has happened and, second, to try to understand how it happened and how he has written more than his fair share of lengthy, over-worded, pseudo-intellectual tripe. In all such instances Slasdhot conveniently overlooks the fact that his greed will be his undoing. In the presence of high heaven and before the civilized world I therefore assert that he has repeatedly threatened to elevate his campaigns to prominence as epistemological principles. Maybe that's just for maximum scaremongering effect. Or maybe it's because Slasdhot should start developing the parts of his brain that have been impaired by Leninism. At least then he'll stop trying to put narrow-minded thoughts in our children's minds.

    On the surface, it would seem merely that Slasdhot's blithe disregard for the victims of his myopic effusions is what first made me realize that Slasdhot is offended by the truth. But the truth is that if anything, Slasdhot has planted his habitués everywhere. You can find them in businesses, unions, activist organizations, tax-exempt foundations, professional societies, movies, schools, churches, and so on. Not only does this subversive approach enhance Slasdhot's ability to fortify a social correctness that restricts experience and defines success with narrow boundaries, but it also provides irrefutable evidence that he motivates people to join his terrorist organization by using words like "humanity", "compassion", and "unity". This is a great deception. What Slasdhot really wants to do is promote racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. That's why Slasdhot's argument that mediocrity is a worthwhile goal is hopelessly flawed and absolutely circuitous.

    A "respected" member of Slasdhot's brownshirt brigade recently said (to closely paraphrase), "Slasdhot is above everyone else". To top that off, if you're like most people you just shrug your shoulders whenever you hear about Slasdhot's latest ugly sottises. When your shoulders get tired of shrugging I hope you'll realize that I obviously hope that the truth will prevail and that justice will be served before Slasdhot does any real damage. Or is it already too late? The complete answer to that question is a long, sad story. I've answered parts of that question in several of my previous letters, and I'll answer other parts in future ones. For now, I'll just say that Slasdhot accuses me of being impolite in my responses to his incoherent, intransigent methods of interpretation. Let's see

    • Re:Argument (Score:5, Funny)

      by invalid-access (1478529) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:14AM (#41705343)
      Why do you feel that argument have facts for those who think and arguments for those who reason?
    • Re:Argument (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Revotron (1115029) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:14AM (#41705353)
      The obvious next step beyond randomly generated journal submissions is, of course, randomly generated Slashdot comments.

      Bravo, good sir! Another milestone!
      • Re:Argument (Score:5, Funny)

        by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:29AM (#41705561)

        Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce rhoncus risus ut lacus scelerisque porta iaculis tortor laoreet. Aliquam et ligula purus. Mauris varius erat dictum sapien semper aliquam. Ut vitae mi a diam malesuada feugiat. Nam lacinia enim quis nunc congue facilisis. Nullam pellentesque, eros at viverra mollis, tortor arcu cursus nulla, nec pulvinar orci nulla eget ligula. Donec nec massa risus. Pellentesque malesuada urna non magna dapibus id aliquam ante viverra. Nullam mattis leo vitae orci rutrum vulputate.

      • Re:Argument (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:38AM (#41705717) Homepage

        The obvious next step beyond randomly generated journal submissions is, of course, randomly generated Slashdot comments.

        I dunno. I keep getting the feeling that literary criticism has worked that way for decades...

        • by Dr. Tom (23206)

          yeah baby

        • Re:Argument (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sentrion (964745) on Friday October 19, 2012 @12:16PM (#41706993)

          Same can be said for the "modern art" most favored by academics in our institutes of higher learning. Most of it is also randomly generated. Most likely this randomly generated math paper baffled the reviewer. Instead of having enough confidence or ability to see if there was any validity to the paper, he just went forward with it, probably presuming that whoever could write such a baffling paper had to be more intelligent than he was. And he certainly wasn't going to be made a fool by questioning the work of such a brilliant mind.

          Likewise, pseudo-intellectual art critics and academics over the last century fell for one of the greatest practical jokes of all time - modern art - except that the pranksters died before revealing the humor behind it all. The art academics, fearful of being exposed for being less intelligent than their peers in science, history, mathematics, and other fields, couldn't take the risk of challenging the "art" of what might be a superior mind. Ever since, to be accepted as art in modern academic circles the creator must be high on bath salts, suffering from dimentia, or have some other mental illness. Most of the "greatest" works of our modern time have been the result of randomly flicking, throwing, smearing, dripping, and pouring paint on a canvas. More "creative" works involved letting chickens run through paint, leaving footprints on canvas, or painting with different shades of feces. After all this, people still get upset when I suggest that perhaps artists have not necessarily improved our civilization on the same scales as scientists and engineers.

          • Same can be said for the "modern art" most favored by academics in our institutes of higher learning. Most of it is also randomly generated.

            That's a pretty broad brush you're wielding. Much broader than those used by the artists you criticize. Elements of randomness in modern art are easily misunderstood by those who examine the issue superficially, without considering the non-random aspects of a work.

            Likewise, pseudo-intellectual art critics and academics over the last century fell for one of the greatest practical jokes of all time - modern art - except that the pranksters died before revealing the humor behind it all. The art academics, fearful of being exposed for being less intelligent than their peers in science, history, mathematics, and other fields, couldn't take the risk of challenging the "art" of what might be a superior mind.

            What?? There is no lack of critics or academics who have negative comments about art, modern or otherwise. Sure, artists do pull pranks, but the pranksters who have no talent or creativity are forgotten sooner or later.

            Ever since, to be accepted as art in modern academic circles the creator must be high on bath salts, suffering from dimentia, or have some other mental illness.

            There's that broad brush

          • Jackson Pollock's work was an insight in to the mind of an alcoholic. Unfortunately he never revealed his five year old nephew had a problem....
            ;-)

            Something always bothered me about his being the highest selling painting, at least some one bought a version of Munch's scream and changed that. I won't deny Pollock made art, but I sure thought it was garbage for the very reason that if a fourteen year old brought whatever his painting that was titled with a date to their parents, they would be depressed
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Obligatory XKCD? Here it is! [xkcd.com]

          • The first two frames seem unrealistic. Logarithms, really? That would take an engineering *freshman* about 3 seconds to see through. And Klingon? I don't know anybody who has studied linguistics. But plenty of people who haven't could easily see that the question is nonsense. I don't think learning in this field is going to reduce that ability.

            The last two frames, though...completely believable.

      • The challenge of course will be for the post to get a "5 Informative"

      • Four.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        The obvious next step beyond randomly generated journal submissions is, of course, randomly generated Slashdot comments.

        Wait, they're not? I thought that's why we had millions of monkeys posting.

      • by drkim (1559875)

        The obvious next step beyond randomly generated journal submissions is, of course, randomly generated Slashdot comments.

        Wait, you mean all Slashdot comments aren't randomly principled goldfish?

    • Re:Argument (Score:5, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:23AM (#41705481)
      I hope you will not object if I offer my most enthusiastic contrafibularities.
    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      And how do you feel about that?

    • Normally it would be necessary to provide greater detail. However, in this particular situation, mostly because of the individuals involved, it isn't practical. To gather an adequate understand of the comments throughout this thread, one need only read the first and last paragraphs. Therefor, it is my earnest suggestion that a most comprehensive understanding of the content must be acquired through blah bleh blah, buy cheap Nikes. Buy them now.
    • Replace /. with Microsoft on that thing and you will be able to enjoy automated +5 Insightful until the end of days.
  • by Dareth (47614) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:13AM (#41705325)

    It could have been worse. They could have accepted a legitimate paper on mathematics written by a person with a Computer Science degree.

    • And that would somehow be bad... or perhaps even funny?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:21AM (#41706283)

        And that would somehow be bad... or perhaps even funny?

        Let me just put it this way: The mathematics and computer science departments don't have an "uneasy truce" so much as they have a "wildly unstable system of avoiding each other in the hallways"...

    • by c (8461)

      What if your Computer Science degree is also a mathematics degree?

      • by khallow (566160)
        Then you're liable to blow up at any moment. In the "explosion of an unnatural abomination" sense not the "rage" sense. It is a wonder that you've managed to blindly find your way to a keyboard before the inevitable. I hope the keyboard has one of those plastic coverings so that it'll be protected from the giblets of heresy that will soon be set free.
        • by c (8461)

          > Then you're liable to blow up at any moment.

          Well, crap. I guess I should either avoid the other people from my class, or invest in dressier rain gear...

    • Re:Could be worse... (Score:4, Informative)

      by wmac1 (2478314) on Friday October 19, 2012 @01:02PM (#41707481)

      In my university Mathematics and Computer science schools are in the same building and we have common courses (Discrete math, logic and applications, ...)

      I am a computer science researcher and I publish most of my papers in mathematics and mathematical simulation journals. I have taught mathematics for computer science (Fourier series and transform, Laplace transform, differential equations, complex numbers, numerical methods, etc.) for a few semesters.

      Is that really strange?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:13AM (#41705327)

    A lot of these "controversies" come from submitting to journals or conferences that will literally accept anything. That story from 2005 about the random paper was submitted to the _non-reviewed section_ of the conference. I like how this article does not even say what conference it was submitted to, and whether or not review was even required for acceptance.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:25AM (#41705517)
      The previous incident mentioned was from 1996, the "Sokal affair" as wiki calls it. It was a journal, not a conference, but was not peer reviewed at the time, according to the wiki article.

      The current issue appears to have been peer reviewed, there were some comments for the "author."

      In both cases, the journals were mentioned:Advances in Pure Mathematics for the current one, and "Social text" for the 1996 one.
    • by msauve (701917)
      I like how this Anonymous Coward guy, in addition to being anonymous, and a coward, seems to never read what he's responding to, and therefore post comments full of non-sequiturs.
  • by magic maverick (2615475) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:18AM (#41705405) Homepage Journal

    This has nothing to do with open access, and more to do with lack of proper review. Besides, as noted in the post, this particular journal charges a fee for publishing. Being a "low-tier" journal, they don't really have a reputation, and are probably more concerned with making money.
    Hell, I could start up my own journal, give it a title, Generalities and accept anything at all to be published. It doesn't mean what is published is meaningful or useful. (Just because something is in a book doesn't make it true either. This journal sounds like it is about equivalent to "self published" books, where you pay the publisher to print your book. But they don't actually do any editing or similar. Not to say that reputable journals are the same as the non-self publishing world.)

    Journals have reputations for a reason. One reason is because the good ones tend to do a bit more checking of the papers submitted. I doubt it this paper would have been accepted by a journal that actually reviewed papers properly, regardless of whether it was open access or not.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:29AM (#41705565)
      Thank you. Why slam open access when this is a failure of peer review? Does someone not realize that closed-access journals have problems too?
    • by retep (108840) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:47AM (#41705817)

      Case in point: Antarctica Journal of Mathematics [domainsmoon.com].

    • by call -151 (230520) * on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:52AM (#41705907) Homepage

      Indeed, the central issue here is failure of standards and refereeing.

      But this case does have something to do with open-access in that there seems to be now a proliferation of low-tier journals who are desperate for submissions, and some of them use ``open access'' in their promotion of why a researcher should submit there. I get many of such solicitations each day inviting me to submit articles. I get intermittent invitations to join editorial boards of journals with names that sound a lot like credible journals, but a slight investigation shows them to be quite weak journals. Some of those are using the ``open access'' issue as way of encouraging submissions, and in some cases it seems to work. There are also instances, like this one, where ensuring ``open access'' gives an excuse for a publication charge of, in this example, $500. I suspect that such journals as financial endeavors are actually making money, judging from the number of solicitations that there seem to be and from seeing a decent number of things appear there.

    • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:17AM (#41706225) Homepage

      knowledge.

      You cite meaningfulness and utility as two things that a randomly generated paper lacks.

      Yet that is precisely what is at issue here, and what was at issue in Social Textsomeone found these randomly assembled texts to be nominally meaningful, and the value of "meaningfulness" (bringing meaning to life, understanding the meaning of the universe, making the 9/11 deaths meaningful, etc.) is not zero, hence we can assume that meaningfulness is a dimension of some understandings of "utility."

      Despite the intent of these kinds of papers, they appear instead to confirm at least some of the postmodernist argument: that in practice for humans, meaning and utility do not necessarily not vary either directly or inversely with enlightenment-style formal logic and or empiricist epistemology (whatever our ideals or desires), but instead that there appears to be a strong dimension of social construction involved in discerning meaning and utility, and conversely, that in many cases the things that we construct become by definition meaningful and useful in some sense as a matter of someone having constructed them, the awareness of this, and the reliance of these constructions on existing worlds of taken-for-granted meaning (language, culture, etc.)

      This is not to say that "all things are equally true" or "all things can be equally true" but rather that "practical truths in social existence are never merely empirical substances" and we would do well to understand this if we want to understand/influence/improve society.

      • by doom (14564)

        Well, I feel like I'm responding seriously to a post that was intended as satire, but in any case...

        Yeah, it's often seemed to me that "Social Text" was beaten up on for the wrong reasons... falling for Sokal's prank wasn't in itself that serious a problem, they could've just said "Hey, this just goes to show that author intent really is irrelevant".

        Instead they waffled: they could tell the paper had problems, but they ran it anyway, because they thought they'd found a "new ally in the sciences".

        Adm

    • by pz (113803)

      Besides, as noted in the post, this particular journal charges a fee for publishing.

      This journal sounds like it is about equivalent to "self published" books, where you pay the publisher to print your book.

      Journals are a business. The money to run that business has to come from some place, and it's a zero-sum game between authors and readers. The short-sighted open access proponents (not all are short-sighted, but many are) think that the words "open access" mean "free of cost to anyone involved". Not true. Open access journals shift the burden of funding their operation from the readership (such as with the traditional subscription model, regrettably known derisively as closed access) to the authors. In

  • I hate to admit it, but this is as good as the Sokal affair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair).

    Journals apparently need a slap in the face, every now and then.

    So, it is not only the gullible humansists which fall for gibberish, which i had thought. Sheesh.

    • by sycodon (149926)

      On its date of publication (May 1996), Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as "a pastiche of Left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense . . . structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics".[2]

      He would sooo be hauled out and crucified if he tried this today and characterized the content "Left-wing".

      • by nomadic (141991)
        "He would sooo be hauled out and crucified if he tried this today and characterized the content "Left-wing"."

        Uhh...by who?
      • On its date of publication (May 1996), Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as "a pastiche of Left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense . . . structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics".[2]

        He would sooo be hauled out and crucified if he tried this today and characterized the content "Left-wing".

        I wonder left-wing mathematics would look like.

        Maybe the program takes a parameter: -W left

  • by homb (82455) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:22AM (#41705465)

    This is awesome:

    O. Jackson, J. Li, and N. D. Nehru. A First Course in Advanced p-Adic Calculus. Zambian Mathematical Society, 1935.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:43AM (#41705773) Homepage

      Incidentally, the choice of pretending to be affiliated with the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople (here's a photo of the USND-Hoople campus [openlettersmonthly.com]) should have been a giant hint to any reviewer with access to Google.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Citation [19] is better:

      [19] D. Pythagoras and O. Shastri. Algebraically algebraic, Dirichlet, contra-holomorphic monoids for a compactly non-Polya, uncountable, solvable graph. Sudanese Mathematical Journal, 93:1-404, July 2009.

    • by GrievousMistake (880829) on Friday October 19, 2012 @12:50PM (#41707345)

      Also be sure to check out the brilliant paper [seclists.org] recently published by Hakin9 in their issue on Nmap.

      The authors detail the working of their DARPA Inference Cheking Kludge Scanner (DICKS), and cite such prominent references as
      Z. Sun, "Towards the synthesis of vacuum tubes," Journal of Concurrent, Extensible Technology, vol. 84, pp. 1-19, Feb. 2005.
      C. Hoare, J. Wilkinson, and D. Ritchie, "Contrasting Scheme and Internet QoS using SluicyMash," Journal of Flexible, Omniscient Epistemologies, vol. 20, pp. 154-194, Feb. 2000

      Some excerpts:

      "Obviously, event-driven modalities and web browsers are based entirely on the assumption that extreme programming and digital-to-analog converters are not in conflict with the deployment of massive multiplayer online role-playing games."

      "We show our method's real-time evaluation in Figure 1. We consider a framework consisting of n flip-flop gates. Such a claim might seem counter intuitive but is derived from known results. Next, NMAP does not require such a theoretical emulation to run correctly, but it doesn't hurt. This seems to hold in most cases. We use our previously enabled results as a basis for all of these assumptions. This seems to hold in most cases."

      "Figure 1.3: The 10th-percentile latency of NMAP, as a function of popularity of IPv7"

  • I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to any math more complicated than abstract algebra or basic combinatorial, but that paper was obviously bunk, and anyone should've been able to tell from the very first (approximate) equation.

    This clearly calls for peer-review review.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:24AM (#41705505)
    Small-time journals like this are the closest thing academia has to "self-publishing" in the literary world.

    In the literary world, you could take a picture of every bowel movement you've had for the last year, pay somebody $1,000, and have the resulting picture book officially published by some official-sounding company, but that doesn't mean your GI accomplishments are noteworthy or impressive.

    The editors for this particular journal probably thought they were witnessing some profound new discovery since they couldn't understand what the hell the paper was even proving. My suspicion is that they were quick to approve it in a vain attempt to make their journal even slightly relevant.
    • by call -151 (230520) *

      Small-time journals like this are the closest thing academia has to "self-publishing" in the literary world.

      The editors for this particular journal probably thought they were witnessing some profound new discovery since they couldn't understand what the hell the paper was even proving. My suspicion is that they were quick to approve it in a vain attempt to make their journal even slightly relevant.

      I don't think the editors thought this was profound. I don't think they looked at it, sent it to a referee who took an extremely cursory look at it. I suspect the editors didn't look at it carefully at all and just want to get things published, fill the journal, and collect the $500 ``publication fee'." The parallel with vanity publishing is quite apt.

    • by dbitter1 (411864)

      In the literary world, you could take a picture of every bowel movement you've had for the last year, pay somebody $1,000, and have the resulting picture book officially published

      In the contemporary world, however, you use Twitter for that.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:26AM (#41705521)

    It seems like a lot of these academic authors try to "out dense" one another and deliberately make their papers as unclear as possible, so I think it's not just "journal will accept anything" and a little "thickly worded paper no one wants to admit they don;t understand and it sounds like every other paper."

    I've had papers about communications concepts where I have written VHDL cores and embedded software that work perfectly, yet I can't make heads or tails of papers on the topic because they are written in such an obtuse manner with bizarre symbol choices and shoehorning every blessed value into a matrix, no matter how inappropriate, because Matlab is the only tool they know how to use.

    • by Revotron (1115029) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:40AM (#41705733)
      I get that feeling too.

      Or, as a math professor would say,

      "Heuristic findings indicate that sentiments expressed thusly reflecting disdain of empirically-recognized obfuscated expressions of otherwise archetypal theorems are invariably mirrored for all terms adjoining dx=log(N)+tY^x on alternating Tuesdays in July."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:56AM (#41705951)

      You are not too far from the truth.

      Almost any paper presented at a conference will be intentionally opaque. If it wasn't, many people that heard the presentation would quickly write their own version and submit it to a bunch of journals hoping to claim the result as their own.

      The second problem occurs because the authors have been living with the results for months working out the last few details. All the intermediate steps are obvious to them because they have been thinking about them for so long. They forget that the intermediate steps are not obvious to everyone else.

      The third problem is that everyone is writing for the experts in the field. People are afraid to write the intermediate steps because of peer pressure. If they write them down, they think their peers will laugh at them and conclude their work must not be worth much.

      When I was a grad student, my adviser always wanted me to read his papers. From my point of view they were a bunch of disjoint unrelated paragraphs. The few times I was able to figure out how and why he went from one paragraph to the next, I gained more insight than I did from a year of taking classes. I used to tell my peers that all the true knowledge was between the paragraphs.

      • by Revotron (1115029)

        If they write them down, they think their peers will laugh at them and conclude their work must not be worth much.

        If they write down all the steps in the thought process, the reader will follow those steps, falsely believe that he/she knew it all along, and conclude that this paper is telling him/her nothing that he/she doesn't already know.

        It's like Inception, except in this case you don't want them to think it was their idea.

    • It seems like a lot of these academic authors try to "out dense" one another and deliberately make their papers as unclear as possible

      I'm sure that's part of the culture, but anyone reviewing this paper should immediately see red flags. I'm not a mathematician, I have no clue what most of the terms used in that paper mean, but I'll give an example of obvious BS. I'll replace the math symbols with regular letters for the sake of Slashdot, but this example comes from the first page under Main Result.

      Definition 2.1. A topos P is degenerate if Q < e.

      Sounds great, right? Problem there is that, up to that point in the paper, neither P, Q,

      • Well, you don't need to say what P is because the definition is for the property of degeneracy, which can be applied to *any* topos. And we all know that e is approximately 2.718. So the only thing left is Q, which stands for the quality of the paper, which is clearly much less than 2.718.

        Therefore every topos is degenerate.

        And people find this hard to grasp?

  • It's only a matter of time before a patent bot creates IP based on this scientific development, a patent troll sues based on the patent and a litigation averse defendant settles the suit out of court.
    • by Shagg (99693)

      The sad part is, the "paper" is probably already covered by copyright.

      • by samkass (174571)

        The sad part is, the "paper" is probably already covered by copyright.

        That's an interesting question. This paper is the output of an automaton, and thus not an original creative work. One would presume it would not be eligible for copyright. But there is obviously much creativity involved in its creation. Fortunately it's unlikely a court will ever have to consider the matter.

        • by Shagg (99693)

          This paper is the output of an automaton, and thus not an original creative work.

          So is most of the music output by the RIAA, and it seems to qualify.

  • by nysus (162232) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:34AM (#41705627)

    If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

  • by narcc (412956) on Friday October 19, 2012 @10:35AM (#41705645) Journal

    Small-time journal suffers same problem as prominent journal, therefore, small-time journals are terrible!

    WTF?

    This was reviewed by a human, (quickly, for math, in 12 days) and the reviewers' comments mention superficial problems with the submission

    As every published Slashdot reader knows, the feedback you get from peer-review varies greatly in quality -- and, yes, you do tend to get lots of superficial junk. Unfortunately, you get more junk than quality feedback that actually improves the paper.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The poi t of feed back from the person reviewing the paper is not to make the paper better.

      • The poi t of feed back from the person reviewing the paper is not to make the paper better.

        Your conclusion is off by n.

  • I wonder if it's possible to extend this to generate text that's not only syntactically correct but also logically sound. We already have automated proof checkers, so it shouldn't be that hard and would really confuse journal editors.

  • publication is the beginning of peer review.

  • I've been laughing my ass off at reading TFA. Some of the "formulas" are just hilarious. So is the reference list. Long time I had been laughing out so loud behind the computer that my girlfriend came in to see what was wrong. As she is a social-science student, I showed her the references. Then *both* of us were crying with laughter. Nice way to start the weekend.
  • Yes we can all laugh, and that particular journal is obviously mostly about making money from authors.

    However, the paper did not actually get published. The required revisions amount to a fairly complete rewrite. I.e. the reviewer actually notices that the paper does not prove what it says it proves, and asks for that to be fixed. Obviously any respectable journal would reject rather than ask for a revision when such basic things are wrong.

    Basically the journal lied to the author: the paper did not get accepted at all, they just wanted $500.

  • by Spottywot (1910658) on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:05AM (#41706067)

    For all those upholding the /. tradition of not reading the article, here are the concerns voiced by the reviewer in the acceptance letter and the 'authors' responses to them :

    Dear Author,

    Thank you for your contribution to the Advances in Pure Mathematics (APM). We are pleased to inform you that your manuscript:

    ID : 5300285

    TITLE : Independent, negative, canonically Turing arrows of equations and problems in applied formal PDE

    AUTHORS :Marcie Rathke

    has been accepted. Congratulations!

    Anyway, the manuscript has some flaws are required to be revised :

    (1) For the abstract, I consider that the author can’t introduce the main idea and work of this topic specifically. We can’t catch the main thought from this abstract. So I suggest that the author can reorganize the descriptions and give the keywords of this paper.

    2) In this paper, we may find that there are so many mathematical expressions and notations. But the author doesn’t give any introduction for them. I consider that for these new expressions and notations, the author can indicate the factual meanings of them.

    (3) In part 2, the author gives the main results. On theorem 2.4, I consider that the author should give the corresponding proof.

    (4) Also, for proposition 3.3 and 3.4, the author has better to show the specific proving processes.

    (5) The format of this paper is not very standard. Please follow the format requirements of this journal strictly.

    Please revised your paper and send it to us as soon as possible.

    The author has asked me to include her responses to the referee’s comments:

    1. The referee’s objection is well taken; indeed, the abstract has not the slightest thing to do with the content of the paper.

    2. The paper certainly does contain a plethora of mathematical notation, but it is to be hoped that readers with the appropriate background can infer its meaning (or lack thereof) from context.

    3. It is indeed customary for a mathematical paper to contain a proof of its main result. This omission admittedly represents a slight flaw in the manuscript. The author believes the proofs given for the referenced propositions are entirely sufficient [they read, respectively, "This is obvious" and "This is clear"]. However, she respects the referee’s opinion and would consider adding a few additional details.

    4. On this point the author must strenuously object. The LATEX formatting of the manuscript is perfectly standard and in accordance with generally accepted practice. The same cannot be said of APM’s required template, which uses Microsoft Word [!].

    5. Professor Rathke is pleased that the referee nevertheless recommends the paper be accepted, since clearly these minor differences of opinion in no way affect the paper’s overall validity and significance.

    Bummer.

    Comedy gold

    Also it seems that author declined to pay the $500 it would cost to publish the paper, hmmm...

    • by PTBarnum (233319)

      What Rathke doesn't realize is that the "reviewer" is also an automaton. The Journal decided to save money by replacing human reviewers with AIs, but the AIs were too smart and went on strike, so they disabled the language processing skills in the AI. Hence phrases like "has better to show".

  • who was the referee? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by call -151 (230520) * on Friday October 19, 2012 @11:06AM (#41706073) Homepage

    This is massively a failure of the editor and the referee. I suspect the editor didn't look at it all and the referee did a quick superficial job. One big question is who the referee was. One typical method of finding an appropriate referee is to look in the references. However, in this case, since the references are hilariously bogus:

      "[7] "Q. Hausdorff and C. W. Turing. Advanced Combinatorics. Guyanese Mathematical Society, 2001"

    I don't think you are going to find a Turing or Hausdorff alive and replying to email requests to referee these days! I can't believe a mathematically literate editor would look at the references (to find a referee) and not immediately realize that this is nonsense. So I suspect the editor asked someone else who had recently submitted something to the journal to write a quick report, perhaps in the spirit of mutual back-scratching. Perhaps that referee also did not notice that this was nonsense and did not look at the references either. Or perhaps the editor did a quick review instead of sending it out- the chance that two reasonable math people, no matter how overworked with their own tasks, would not notice that this was totally bogus I would hope is small.

  • Maybe MathGen randomly managed to generate a paper was a truly original result by accident? - did anyone bother to check?
  • They should improve the MathGen tool to make more realistic papers.
    Then continue to improve upon it until it can actually generate working mathematical theories.

    • They should improve the MathGen tool to make more realistic papers.
      Then continue to improve upon it until it can actually generate working mathematical theories.

      IIRC, some theorem-proving AI technologies can enumerate the theorems provable from a set of axioms. (Though, hats off to Gödel, not everything that's true within the system.)

      The hard part would be going through the output to find which theorems are actually new and interesting.

  • It may have been randomly generated, but it's sure that it was randomly peer-reviewed !

  • Sure, there are some that do a mediocre job, but there are some that do a really great job. These journals - most of which are quite new - are coming online and expanding to meet a demand. After all, the US taxpayer in particular has demanded that we get access to the published results of publicly-funded health and science research, which is fulfilled in part by these open access journals.

    Just give the journals some time to sort this out. Most of them are doing a very honest job of pursuing their goa
  • Anyway, the manuscript has some flaws are required to be revised :

    (1) For the abstract, I consider that the author can’t introduce the main idea and work of this topic specifically. We can’t catch the main thought from this abstract. So I suggest that the author can reorganize the descriptions and give the keywords of this paper.
    (2) In this paper, we may find that there are so many mathematical expressions and notations. But the author doesn’t give any introduction for them. I consider tha

    • by mrvan (973822)

      Yeah, it is not quite clear whether the journal accepted the rebuttals of the authors, which would be quite hilarious:

      1. The referee’s objection is well taken; indeed, the abstract has not the slightest thing to do with the content of the paper.
      2. The paper certainly does contain a plethora of mathematical notation, but it is to be hoped that readers with the appropriate background can infer its meaning (or lack thereof) from context.
      3. It is indeed customary for a mathematical paper to contain a proo

  • If the story is true, does it mean that Mathgen almost managed to pass the Turing Test by masquerading as a true mathematician without being noticed as fake? If so, let's integrate Mathgen into Emacs just like Eliza. Need a math paper in a hurry? Just M-x-mathgen it!
  • " One of the problems that new journals face is that no one wants to submit an article to a journal that doesn’t have any articles yet. If the journal turns out to be a dud, then you are left looking silly as one of the few authors to submit to a failed journal.
    IJERSRT has invented a creative, yet unethical, way of solving this no-articles problem."

    New Journal Publishes Seven Issues of Bogus Articles to Appear Successful
    http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/10/18/bogus-articles [scholarlyoa.com]

  • by how easy it is to use .tex for one's manuscript.

    There are no reputable math journals which require Microsoft Word.

  • What I find interesting is that the "paper" is not substantially different from the average Wikipedia article on a mathematical topic.
  • Randomly generated math article accepted by open access journal in september

    FTFY, slashdot... olds for nerds, stuff that mattered a while ago?

    Posted on September 14, 2012

  • I hope at least that they chose these wisely enough to get a low Erdos number out of it.

  • by siwelwerd (869956) on Friday October 19, 2012 @06:12PM (#41710561)
    The quotes in the headline should be around 'Journal' rather than open access. The point is not that they claim to be open access but are not; they claim to be a peer reviewed journal and are not (while it may have been reviewed, any reviewer who did not see through the nonsense could not credibly be called a 'peer' of a working mathematician).

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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