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Google's PageRank Predicts Nobel Prize Winners

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the that's-a-little-strange dept.

Google 101

KentuckyFC writes "The pattern of citations between scientific papers forms a network that has remarkable similarities to the network formed by the web. So why not use Google's PageRank, the world's most effective search algorithm to rank these papers in the same way it ranks websites? That's exactly what a couple of US researchers have done for physics papers published by the American Physical Society since 1893 (abstract). The results make interesting reading because almost all of the top ten papers resulted in (or were linked to) Nobel Prizes for their authors. Which means that studying the up-and-coming entries on the list ought to be a good way of predicting future winners. Better get your bets in before the bookies get wind of this."

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101 comments

So does that mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547315)

great minds think alike? Or does it just reflect what we like to see and how we like to think?

This is what great minds think: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547861)

Stud dogs go about the whole sex thing rather differently than primates (or equines). Unlike us, male canines don't have an orgasm that involves a short, intense ejaculation. Instead, once they have become fully erect, they will have a continuous orgasm for from 10 to 45 minutes or longer. The "standard" procedure for dogs, when they are mating, is that the male "ties" with the bitch - which means that, after he has penetrated fully, his penis will develop a knot at its base that is several times wider than the rest of his shaft.

For reference, a 80 pound Golden stud dog might have, let's say, a cock that is 7 or 8 inches long when erect - but his knot will be at least as big around as a tennis ball. This knot swells inside the bitch, and so long as he remains erect the dogs are "tied." No, this isn't painful for her - canine females long ago developed an entire set of muscular supports for this process. Generally, once they are tied, most stud dogs prefer to step off and over, so he and the bitch are tail-to-tail. Theories abound on why this evolved - I have yet to see one that was truly convincing. Anyway, they'll stand like this, with the male having a continuous orgasm during the whole tie - until he starts to shrink and they pop apart. Bitches also have orgasms, and she'll likely have quite a few during the tie, as well - research has shown that her orgasms are essential to increasing the chances of pregnancy, due to muscular contractions.

Anyway. if a guy like me has a stud dog partner, one form of intimacy is for him to tie with us, anally. As young teenagers, many of us learned the hard way about the knot, and the tie - particularly back in pre-interweb days. So we'd suddenly find ourselves locked together, with this tennis-ball width cock inside us. Nowadays, I suspect most young zoos know all about this. However, some folks still have eyes bigger than their stomach, err their you-know-what.

It would not be accurate to say that I have a stream of visitors who show up at my house just for sex with my canine partners. However, it is true that I do not exercise any sort of unilateral control/ownership over the relationships my canine boys might develop with other people - they are adults, and if they desire to get frisky with another two-legger and I judge that the person is respectful and unlikely to do anything mean or stupid, I have no moral ground on which to say "oh, no, you aren't allowed - he can only have sex with me." That just makes no sense, so if there's a time when a friend is visiting and there's a spark between them and one of my partners, I'm ok with that. In truth, I think it's great to have the boys' enjoy other positive relationships and I love to see them happy, whatever the circumstances.

Many years ago, my friend Commander Taco was visiting - a zoo who had been active with his own stud dog for quite a few years. His boy was a breed that is not small, but is also somewhat known by old-school zoos as being, well, on average not so well-endowed relative to their body size. This friend had tied with his partner on a number of occasions - and he often talked about how intense and rewarding the experience was, for both of them. That's great, I said - while thinking that he'd probably not fare so well with a larger breed.

As it turns out, Taco and one of my canine friends hit it off quite clearly right from the get-go - the chemistry was there and the two of them seemed like they'd known each other for ages. After several visits, I could see that they were sort of getting closer and closer - my friend Taco was worried that I'd feel he was somehow intruding into my relationship with this handsome stud dog - who had been in my own family for close to a decade. Of course not, I told him - if you guys hit it off and things get steamy, I'd hardly throw cold water on it just so I can be all possessive and insecure. HOWEVER, I warned him, that handsome boy with whom you're making goo-goo eyes is much bigger than your own long-time partner.

I tried to be nice about this, but some zoos get their nose out of joint if you suggest their beloved might not be the most-endowed canine (or equine, or whatever) around. Taco was a bit like that - and right off the bat tried to convince me his boy was "really quite large for his body size," and who was I to argue? I did warn him that the stud dog he was considering, in my family, was somewhat over-endowed for his body size - and he was in the range of 120 pounds of low-bodyfat muscle. Beh, my friend said, no problem - I know what I'm doing. . .

Later that evening, after I'd gone to bed, I woke to the sound of toenails on the hardwood floor. There was also a bit of panting, a giggle here and there - not hard to figure out what was going on. Feeling a sense of impending doom, I made my presence known and sort of lurked in the background, sitting on the sofa and enjoying the huge, nearly-full moon casting shadows on the farm. The two boys were doing some sort of foreplay - it seemed cute to me, but I did (once again) warn Taco that this particular stud dog was also rather aggressive in his breeding - he'd sired many litters of wonderful pups, in his own career, and knew quite well how to get a proper tie with even inexperienced or skittish bitches. Yeah, yeah - my Taco was clearly not thinking with the had between his shoulders, but the one between his legs.

In a flash, the big stud dog was mounted on Taco - and this time he wasn't just going through the motions, or playing. In just a few thrusts, he was inside - and with all that muscle, he held himself tight as he began to swell. It doesn't take long - maybe 20 seconds. I'm still watching, from the sofa, somewhere between shocked and bemused. For the first ten seconds or so, Taco is quiet and still as a winter night - not a sound save the deep grunting from my stud dog as he was swelling with each heartbeat.

Then, reality started to intrude (pun intended). Commander Taco started to make this sort of whimpering sound - no words, just a low moan. Too late to turn back, I knew, so I held my tongue. Then, as my stud dog really began to take on his full size (which I knew from years of firsthand enjoyment was just under 10 inches in length with a knot just shy of softball size), my two-legged friend began to realize the error of his ways. This stud dog was, quite likely, at least double the width of his normal canine partner - and 3 or 4 inches longer. And, as reality is dawning on him, each heartbeat is causing the cock inside him to get bigger. . . and bigger. . . and bigger.

By now, Taco's positively crying - literally crying like a baby. No words, just sort of a quiet blubbering. He's smart enough to know there's no backing out now - and he didn't try anything stupid like pulling loose (which can, indeed, cause massive rectal tearing if done in haste - trust me, not fun). At this point my canine friend casually steps off from the usual "doggie style" position and, with years of practice, adjusts himself into the butt-to-butt position. And to add insult to (literal) injury, my canine friend has now plastered an absolutely massive grin on his face - when we say "shit-eating grin," this is it He's having the time of his life, tied with a new friend he's met, just starting into an orgasm that will go on for nearly 20 minutes. Not only does he not really know that his **** buddy is feeling like someone's put the better part of a baseball bat up his ass. . . I'm quite sure he doesn't care.

Just for good measure, I took a photo of the gigantic smile on the stud dog's face - nothing more than that, just his face and the grin to end all grins. Click.

My two-legged friend Taco is now officially gibbering - it's really a verb, I didn't know that before just then. He's somehow begging for it to "stop, oh please stop" - but every now and then there's an "oh god oh GOD he's amazing" thrown in, before he's back to "oh PLEASE make it stop OOOH stop stop stop." This goes on, as is par for the course, for just shy of 20 minutes, at which point my stud dog friend begins to subside, pops free (with a characteristically loud and gushing dis-connection), and lies down to clean himself up and help his cock back into its sheath.

In contrast, my two-legged friend has simply fallen over, and curled up into a fetal ball. Well, I think to myself, I don't see any blood. . . oh, wait, I do see blood, but not really that much so it's probably ok. I get him a blanket and try to offer kindness without intruding on his pain, and to be honest without s******ing. The words "I told you so" are hovering out there, but need not be spoken at that somewhat awkward time. I do ask: "are you going to be ok, or should we head to hospital?" In between ragged breaths, he responds "no hospital, not going to die" - and indeed my own judgment is that he's far from dying, though he may feel like that would be preferable to the pain he's in.

I get him a blanket, and a pillow and get him comfortable right there on the hardwood floor of the kitchen. And our canine Casanova? Well he's cleaned up, wandered over to give a big, wet, shameless kiss to his worse-for-the-wear sexual partner and he's already asleep on the sofa, snoring - with grin still present on his face. Remorse? Regret? Not a chance!

The next day, I was impressed to see that my guest was up and at the kitchen table, with his well-endowed playmate from the previous night sharing a dish of eggs and toast, when I came downstairs with the rest of the canine crew. Impressed, that is, until I noticed he wasn't in any rush to get up from the table - ever. Turns out, Taco had indeed suffered some serious internal bruising - in a few days, the discoloration has spread from his lower back (which still makes me laugh, sorry, because I can visualize exactly how far in that cock had gone and, sure enough, that's where the bruise mellows out - a good bit of the way up his back and towards his ribs) down his legs, and clear to his ankles. Both legs. It's spectacular. He's walking like a rehabbed accident victim for several days, and for weeks afterwards he looks as if he'd ridden a horse for too long (again, laughing as I type). It was more than a month before he'd healed up more or less ok, and even then I'd see him wince if he bent down too quickly.

Is it wrong for me to think this is funny? If it is, so be it - it's ****ing funny. The transformation from swaggering "oh I can take that big boy, I know what I'm doing" to hunched-over victim of a mind-expanding lesson in what "big" means when applied to stud dogs - all in the blink of an eye. Yes, it's definitely funny.

Of course, in those early weeks, he promised me he would NEVER do something like that again - NEVER tie with a dog bigger than his own long-term partner. And, he asked me with genuine indignation, how could I keep tying with that dog who had torn him up so badly? Didn't I know the danger I was in? I responded, casually, that I appreciated his concerns but, to put perspective on things he should remember that his dog compared to that stud dog who tore him up so badly, in terms of relative size, the same way that the tearer-upper compared to my Dane partner at the time. His eyes grew wide - comprehension dawned. . . "you don't tie with that monster, do you?" I glanced over at my beloved Dane who, looking up at me, thumped his tail a few times in flagrant collusion with my own thoughts. "Who, me? Tie with that massive dog? Now what kind of crazy fool would do such a thing?"

Re:So does that mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549549)

Close... it means great minds are rewarded for thinking alike.

Great, Just Great (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547319)

Preparing for an inundation of people citation bombing each other in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547773)

You say this, and I imagine a Cessna Citation business jet armed with comically large bombs that it drops on scientists houses.

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

lakshmanok (1208090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548121)

Mod parent up. If 3 people just keep citing each other circularly (avoiding self-citations), the whole ranking collapses because all their papers will be artificially inflated. Accounting for this is quite hard because it will involve distinguishing between natural clusters (of top researchers working on a common topic) or citation gamers (aiming to boost their citation counts). Also, note in the TFA a graph with a parameter "d". That is basically slop. The authors simply changed the d until they could get a match for Nobel winners. Once you know what the answer ought to be, it's easy enough to manipulate a parameter like this.

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548611)

Of course, in the application of PageRank to general internet search, there is a clear economic incentive to game the system (and so sometimes you see it done).

Why would anyone care enough where they land in a PageRank search of academic papers to game the system?

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

CaptCovert (868609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549671)

Yes, because there's no real money in research, especially for those Nobel Prize geeks. </sarcasm>

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549893)

"Money in research" != "money in gaming the PageRank"

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550295)

Unless gaming the page rank becomes a mark of prestige. Prestige certainly does map to research dollars.

Re:Great, Just Great (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549901)

When a search is performed for whatever the modern equivalent of radiation and x-ray crystallography* is, that person's paper would then pop up first, garner more citations, and potentially end up an authoritative source on the topic.

*Take a look at the contributions of early Nobel winners in Physics.

Since 1893 (0)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547343)

>That's exactly what a couple of US researchers have done for physics papers published by the American Physical Society since 1893

I wasn't aware that Google's PageRank existed in 1893.

Re:Since 1893 (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547841)

>That's exactly what a couple of US researchers have done for physics papers published by the American Physical Society since 1893 I wasn't aware that Google's PageRank existed in 1893.

It didn't. But they don't just throw away published papers. Those papers tend to sit around on a dusty shelf, forgotten in a library (unless they're really well-cited). Or in an archive (most likely).

Re:Since 1893 (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548099)

I think my joke went over everyones head. :-\

Re:Since 1893 (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548677)

It didn't, but it really wasn't all that funny, either.

Re:Since 1893 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549331)

It just wasn't funny...

bets? (1)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547351)

They take bets about this kind of thing?

Re:bets? (0)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547361)

Sure, 20000000000000000:1 odds for myself, in economics, in the next 40 years.

Re:bets? (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547383)

They take bets about this kind of thing?

Um, yeah, you would be surprised what offshore betting brings to the internet. My friend had money that Obama would say "Always bet on black" for his opening speech (paid 700:1) and that he would use the word 'banana' in his speech (paid 800:1). He lost them both. He also bets on every play during football games, especially returns. And he also bets on how long the national anthem lasts at the beginning of each game.

I wish I could link you to the site but it's hard to get to.

You may be able to say that there is always someone willing to quote you a line for anything anytime as long as they get a cut/rake.

Re:bets? (2, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547461)

My friend had money that Obama would say "Always bet on black" for his opening speech (paid 700:1) and that he would use the word 'banana' in his speech (paid 800:1). He lost them both.

Can I propose a simpler scheme where your friend just mails me money while being a racist nitwit? As long as that's his idea of a hobby...

Re:bets? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547579)

My friend had money that Obama would say "Always bet on black" for his opening speech (paid 700:1) and that he would use the word 'banana' in his speech (paid 800:1). He lost them both.

Can I propose a simpler scheme where your friend just mails me money while being a racist nitwit? As long as that's his idea of a hobby...

Sure, as long as you are willing to send him back several thousand dollars in the event of some highly unlikely event. It's called "gambling" and he loves the it. He's also Indian American and has a great sense of humor.

Perhaps your "racism" comments would be more better directed at the Irish bookie making these offerings to the betting community [speroforum.com] ? I think the "Obama Cliche Betting" section has most of what was being offered.

Re:bets? (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548691)

What will happen first under President Obama?
4/6 American led signed cease-fire agreement between Israel & Hamas
3/1 Full Troop withdrawal from Iraq
8/1 Capture of Osama Bin Laden
8/1 Online Gambling legalised
10/1 Full National recognition of Same Sex Marriage
12/1 Full Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
18/1 Legalisation of Marijuana
20/1 Constitution changed to allow the President to serve 3 or more full terms
25/1 Total ban of Capital Punishment
50/1 Moonwalk confirmed as a fake by Obama
100/1 Complete ban on privately owned guns
500/1 Discovery of Aliens on Mars

FUUUCK, your friend is gonna be sooo rich. We already found ice on Mars!

Re:bets? (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549241)

The part that bothers me is that the moonwalk being a fake is considered 10 times as likely as life on Mars.

Re:bets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26555299)

No, it is merely 10 times as likely to have takers. The odds in horse racing are set such that the ratio of losing bets to winning bets is is slightly more than the payout ratio.

Re:bets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547519)

They take bets about this kind of thing?

Um, yeah, you would be surprised what offshore betting brings to the internet. My friend had money that Obama would say "Always bet on black" for his opening speech (paid 700:1) and that he would use the word 'banana' in his speech (paid 800:1). He lost them both. He also bets on every play during football games, especially returns. And he also bets on how long the national anthem lasts at the beginning of each game.

I wish I could link you to the site but it's hard to get to.

You may be able to say that there is always someone willing to quote you a line for anything anytime as long as they get a cut/rake.

I don't know why, but I think you made this whole thing up. I don't doubt that there are places that take these kind of bets, you just write like a liar.

Re:bets? (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547897)

And you write like a coward. Why don't you read the link he provided [speroforum.com] ?

Re:bets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548671)

intrade.com

Re:bets? (2, Funny)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548859)

"If someone gives you 10,000 to 1 on anything, you take it. If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I am going to be a very rich dude." ~ Kevin, The Office

Re:bets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26559705)

Well, the lottery offers me several million-to-one so I keep taking the bet but so far I'm several thousand down. Not sure this is good advice.

movie-star (5, Insightful)

mmThe1 (213136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547387)

Did the star make the movie a hit, or did the movie make the star?

For 'prediction' to be valuable, it has to work with citations that were linked *before* the paper got the Nobel.

Nicola Cabibbo (2, Interesting)

apetrelli (1308945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547419)

So even in this article Nicola Cabibbo demonstrated to deserve the Nobel Prize:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Cabibbo [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nicola Cabibbo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26557999)

It is pretty obvious that Cabibbo's exclusion was politically motivated. If I had to guess, two factors that might have played a role in the decision are:

  • He's Italian, and Italy has a right-wing government.
  • He is the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

More computer model dumb thinking (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547431)

Let's see, so far, computer models have failed to accurately manage loan portfolios to higher risk buyers, failed to manage risk books for hedge funds, could not capture currency trading, can't predict the weather and are probably wrong about climate. Sure, let's have them predict nobel prize winners while we are at it!

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (2, Interesting)

deemen (1316945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547569)

I hope they never award the Nobel Prized based strictly on this. It could be a good way of pointing people in the right direction, but it will also let in a bunch of crap.

The last thing we need is scientists Googlebombing their papers (or creating junk networks to increase page ranks). I bet the Creationists would have a field day with this. "Look, our theories have scientific basis, check out our CiteRank".

Technology is a tool, it should never replace human intelligence.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548581)

Actually, some mischevious scientists already game the system by citing one another's and their own papers in order to artificially inflate their citation stats.

In fact there was an article on Slashdot about a particularly egregrious case in mathematics some time ago.

Please pay attention.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547623)

Can't predict the weather? Weather forecasting is one of the few areas where computers have been an undisputed improvement. Short-term forecasts these days are pretty good (<http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/verification/city.html> has some information on ways the accuracy of forecasts can be measured).

Weather is the odd one out because all the other variables are influenced by the prediction made. Expectations of risk (or correlation of currency movements, or default rates on loans) affect the actions of other players in the market. But weather forecasts do not affect the weather.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547775)

There's nothing wrong with computer models, without them we'd never get any high end engineering done.

However the model can't be better then it's underlying assumptions and here I think that they've confused the relationship.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (0)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547877)

Are your crazy? The only way we're doing weather prediction is with computers. Its amazing how accurate we can get. It may not be up to the standards you have imagined in your brain, but here in the real world its pretty good considering.

computer models have failed to accurately manage loan portfolios to higher risk buyers

Garbage in, garbage out. If the algorithm is written in way that makes the same assumptions the bankers made (packing high risk nightmare loans with low risk loans == win) then you will get the same results.

and are probably wrong about climate.

Yeah, youre a troll.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547913)

Let's see, so far, computer models have failed to accurately manage loan portfolios to higher risk buyers, failed to manage risk books for hedge funds, could not capture currency trading, can't predict the weather and are probably wrong about climate. Sure, let's have them predict nobel prize winners while we are at it!

Actually, using it to predict Nobel prize winners would be a silly use.

But it would be quite useful to allow scientists to focus their research, find all the tidbits, maybe shed some small extra bit that they may have missed otherwise.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (2, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547957)

Let's see, so far, computer models *can* predict the weather and are probably *right* about climate.

But unsurprisingly have failed to accurately manage loan portfolios to higher risk buyers, failed to manage risk books for hedge funds, could not capture currency trading, simply because they are not predictable because they are traded by panic driven, idiots who are swayed by rumour, non existent trends, and computer predictions!

The predictable but complex is predictable, the unpredictable ... is unpredictable! no matter what the overpaid consultant says!

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548181)

panic driven, idiots who are swayed by rumour, non existent trends, and computer predictions!

Sounds like we should be using Macs to predict the economy -- that's their main source of operating power anyway :-p

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551973)

Let's see, so far, computer models *can* predict the weather and are probably *right* about climate

The reason I made the crack about the Climate was because the reason some of the long since resolved Mann controversy was because he used code that he also used for banking and thus couldn't share it. I don't remember the exact deal or even if it was true, but the thought inspired me to a joke, if it were true.

So, if you can put aside your feelings about gw for a second, given that the left has so much riding on it, there's a pretty funny geek joke... the same buggy program destroyed capitalism first, and then liberalism second, and in a year from now all of our stock will be worth pennies on the dollar, unemployment will be 25%, and the Thames and Delaware will be both frozen solid, all because of a missing semicolon.

Re:More computer model dumb thinking (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549541)

Let's see, so far, computer models have failed to accurately manage loan portfolios to higher risk buyers, failed to manage risk books for hedge funds, could not capture currency trading, can't predict the weather and are probably wrong about climate. Sure, let's have them predict nobel prize winners while we are at it!

Well, it's certainly easier than trolling Nostradamus' quatrains in search of a prediction, now isn't it? ;)

Or: International fame = more hits to your paper (4, Insightful)

taumeson (240940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547435)

Seriously, like this is some kind of weird correlation. No shit Nobel prize winning papers would have excellent page ranks.

Re:Or: International fame = more hits to your pape (0)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548079)

So novel and useful research is at the hub of a web of citations, and the novel and useful web pages are at the hub of a web of links ....

Wisdom of Crowds != Wisdom of Intellectuals (1)

mahadiga (1346169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26559945)


Google PageRank = Wisdom of Crowds
And Wisdom of Crowds != Wisdom of Intellectuals

When they think we know, they change their mind (1)

cefek (148764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547443)

Yes, it happens all the time: the Swedish Academy can change their vote any time, if it feels pressed by the media.

Wrong assumptions (1)

Vicarius (1093097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547459)

They assume that interest in someone's published work is the same whether they are Nobel prize winner or not. That is simply not true, papers written by Nobel prize winners will generate more links and have higher rating, just because they recently won the prize.

Unless... (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547917)

That's true, unless this algorithm only searches through papers linked before the cooresponding announcement--which is what my first thought was on seeing the sumamry. I did not RTFA, though.

Take with a bucketful of salt (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548125)

The original paper doesn't really discuss the connections with Nobel prizes - it mentions as an aside that one paper was cited for a Nobel prize - as it's concerned not with predicted Nobel laureates but evaluating the importance of papers. Therefore any conclusions about predicting Nobel winners are without merit until further analysis is performed.

What's Next? (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547471)

"Google predicts your next bowel movement"

Pft.. that'd be easy to do. Pick something harder (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547667)

Bowel movements would be pretty easy to predict tbh. You just get the Android app to track your bowel movements, it'll upload it to a google appliance gizmo that creates a trend.. maybe some input function to add in the primary sections of your diet (for instance, you ate something with alittle more fat or fiber.. etc..)

MS-BM 2.0 (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547993)

See, what did I tell ya? Google lets their employees work a bit on odd experiments, and this is the kind of thing it may lead to. (Will Microsoft compete with Microsoft Bowel 2.0 ?)

Re:MS-BM 2.0 (1)

CaptCovert (868609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549795)

Isn't that the trade name for Vista?

Re:Pft.. that'd be easy to do. Pick something hard (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550501)

If I eat at Baja Surf, predict bowel movement within 5 minutes of leaving restaurant?

Google Page rank and most frequent searches is Au (0)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547491)

I plan to do a blog post on this. I am seeing Google Meta-data being gold in more than just the ad revenue point of view. This data is showing up as useful predictors in medical research, and other fields.

It sounds to me like "predict" is the wrong word (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547507)

If you're going to say "predict," you have to look at only the citations that were made *before* the Nobel Prize was given. Otherwise, you're just proving that a Nobel Prize is a fantastic way to market your research.

Re:It sounds to me like "predict" is the wrong wor (1)

Mente (219525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547709)

That was my reaction as well. It only works if you base it on publications prior to them winning the Nobel Prize. Of course people are going to reference the papers after the Prize. Citing a Nobel winner gives a certain boost to credibility.

Re:It sounds to me like "predict" is the wrong wor (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548391)

That's not completely true. You can use all citations to create a regression model (or structural equations model or whatever other statistical method you use) that is used to "predict" past and future prize winners. It's really hard to explain in this setting but it's basically using all the aggregate data to create your regression equation, then checking to see if the regression equation was a good fit to the data. From there you should hopefully be able to predict future winners with some degree of accuracy.

I'm not sure if the authors used a method like that or not - I skimmed the original article but don't have time to spend more time on it. In any case, it's not uncommon to use "post" data to help predict "pre" data. That's how you set up a model. Further, it's helpful to be able to use all the "post" data to help you know the size of the error of your prediction. I know I wasn't terribly clear but statistical modeling isn't as straightforward as it might seem.

No Kidding (4, Informative)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547545)

The algorithm for Google PageRank is based on the concept of citations from academia. If I remember correctly, the software was originally meant only to index academic papers and eventually grew to index the whole internet. So its not surprising that it predicts winners so well (depending on how much the Nobel committee weights citations in their decisions).

Re:No Kidding (1)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547633)

I'm impressed with your restraint. "Not surprising" is putting it a bit mildly. But maybe I'm just feeling grumpy this morning ;-)

Re:No Kidding (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547701)

I don't know how one is nominated for a Nobel, but I don't think the decision takes citations into account at all. However, influential works are both more likely to win a Nobel prize and more likely to be cited often.

PageRank is very much like academic citation.

Re:No Kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548193)

Seems like it hasn't "pre"dicted anything - only "post"dicted.

Re:No Kidding (5, Informative)

elguillelmo (1242866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548703)

The algorithm for Google PageRank is based on the concept of citations from academia

Exactly!
Quoting from the original paper: "It is obvious to try to apply standard citation analysis techniques to the web's hypertextual citation structure. One can simply think of every link as being like an academic citation. So, a major page like http: www.yahoo.com will have tens of housands of backlinks or citations pointing to it" [L Page, S Brin, R Motwani, T Winograd. The pagerank citation ranking: Bringing order to the web ].

the software was originally meant only to index academic papers

That's not right. From the same original paper:
"PageRank is a global ranking of all web pages, regardless of their content, based solely on their location in the Web's graph structure "
Anyway you are right, and the article's idea sounds way too old: probably an example of two research communities (physics & citation analysis) not knowing too much of each other

Re:No Kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549951)

The algorithm for Google PageRank is based on the concept of citations from academia. If I remember correctly, the software was originally meant only to index academic papers and eventually grew to index the whole internet. So its not surprising that it predicts winners so well (depending on how much the Nobel committee weights citations in their decisions).

Let's all take it easy with padding our egos. This isn't as obvious as you make it sound. If it was, google wouldn't have been around and using PageRank for over 10 years before someone decided to write a paper on this usage.

Similarly, PageRank it self seems pretty obvious once you know how it works but we didn't have it before Google. This is the hallmark of brilliant discoveries, you figure something out that is so obvious noone else noticed.

I think this also speaks to how fair the nobel prizes have been since their inception. This indicates that a discoveries impact on its field is more important that the discovers social status. Assuming of course that this is purely based on pre-nobel prize citations only. Otherwise it only indicates that a paper is more important after the author gets a nobel prize.

Re:No Kidding (1)

Jyms (598745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26565621)

I did this for my M.Sc. almost 10 years ago. The idea was to find seminal works. Unfortunately I only had access to 100000 papers total, not all papers since 1893. Still showed that it worked in principle.

"Predictions", Right.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547663)

Maybe they were cited more often !because! they won the nobel price...?

This would only be a prediction if the inputs were limited to citations BEFORE the nobel prizes...

Older than Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26547763)

I can't believe that CS people who favor information retrieval can be so ignorant of the work preceding PageRank. Bibliometrics is a comparatively ancient art. This kind of analysis was done already - look at Harriet Zuckerman's 1977 book "Scientific elite: Nobel laureates in the United States"

The number of times that I've seen computer science researchers "invent" results seen before is astounding. PageRank is one algorithm, but many other citation measures have already been applied to the Nobel prediction game.

not the interweb (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547851)

Note that they're not looking at webpage referrals, but citations in other scientific papers. Rather than simply counting citations, they're weighting the citations by the number of citations the citing papers received. Thus, if your paper is cited by a paper which is very popular, then your paper will get a boost to it's citation score.

winners bias? (5, Insightful)

Glog (303500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26547899)

Not having read the actual paper, the following question comes to mind: did they include only the period of time *before* the physicists got their Nobels? Because if they included the citations after that - yeah, I imagine those authors got quite a few citations being Nobel Prize winners and all...

Re:winners bias? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548357)

No they didn't, which basically means this story is entirely uninteresting (*of course* papers from nobel prize winners are going to be widely linked).

It's some random dude's blog post though, so what do you expect?

Re:winners bias? (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549257)

Yeah, I thought the same thing. Then I actually read the article. They aren't claiming the highest ranked pages are going to win a Nobel. In fact the author of the highest ranked paper has not received a Nobel. Instead they are suggesting that authors of higher ranked papers are likely candidates for a Nobel. If they had done what you suggest, it would have been more interesting.

Re:winners bias? (2, Informative)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549401)

No they are not. So it is possible that their papers have been cited after being nobel prize. From what i understood of the paper, this index is basically weighted citation index which considers how many references do an article cite and recursively (with exponentially decreasing weight).

In other news... (5, Insightful)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548045)

Top 40 music singles chart predicts highest-selling singles of the week with astounding precision!

Logical Progression (2, Funny)

hoshino (790390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548063)

The next step is obviously to let PageRank select the Nobel winners and cut out the middleman.

Re:Logical Progression (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549311)

The next step is obviously to let PageRank select the Nobel winners and cut out the middleman.

I can't wait for my first Nobel Prize Optimization spam.

Re:Logical Progression (1)

NATP (992108) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553747)

Actually - the authors already thought of this - and warn against it. From the last paragraph in the article...

Even if a way is devised to attach a high-fidelity quality measure to a citation, there is no substitute for scientific judgment to assess publications. We need to avoid falling into the trap of relying on automatically generated citation statistics for accessing the performance of individual researchers, departments, and scientific disciplines, and especially of allowing the evaluation task to be entrusted to administrators and bureaucrats

So Tired of Useless Tags (5, Insightful)

pete-wilko (628329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548087)

Anyone else really get tired of the friggin tags for a lot of these stories? CorrelationIsNotCausation (this meme here really needs to go, saying it dosn't make you sound smart when it makes no sense or is bleedingly obvious) , and BecauseItWillGetGamed? GTFO. How the hell do you as a scientist game the entire specter of academic publishing to get yourself voted as a nobel prize winner, without you know, maybe actually doing some good science (and having it further recognized by being cited heavily by peers)? The tags are next to useless unless they are good as flamebait (yes am aware of the irony)

CorrelationIsNotCausation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548793)

I'm so glad we have the "CorrelationIsNotCausation" tag. I really thought that google was selecting the Nobel Prize winners all this time.

Re:So Tired of Useless Tags (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550575)

Check out "The Case of El Naschie" for how to game academic publishing. (Become an editor of a vanity paper, publish 5 articles a month, cross-cite every article with 10 similar 'scientists').

Not Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26551525)

Hey Alanis, that's not irony!

1. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
2. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
3. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.

Re:So Tired of Useless Tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26551585)

I just think of tags as one liner jokes.

Re:So Tired of Useless Tags (1)

teko_teko (653164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552503)

Lets tag this article with "lametags" or "uselesstagsincludingthisone" =P

hmm indeed (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548123)

And of course the results of their experiment are submitted in the form of a research paper. Hmm, I wonder...

"Correlation" tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548367)

What idiot(s) tagged this article "correlationisnotcausation"? Obviously no-one implied causation, i.e. that Nobel prizes are awarded to people because they have high PageRanks. It talks about prediction and mentions betting, for both of which correlation is enough.

I know the mainstream media is often quick to jump on the "omg there is correlation, ergo there must be causation" bandwagon, but it obviously isn't the case here. Save such tags for when they're appropriate.

Re:"Correlation" tag (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552475)

It talks about prediction ... for ... which correlation is enough.

If it rains, I'll stay indoors. Therefore, if I stay indoors, it'll rain!

Winner bias (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548395)

It would be quite logical for the Nobelists to get considerably more exposure for the mere fact they on the prize. I would think merely referencing a paper from an author who'd made it up there would give your own research more attention than it would otherwise.

This would be quite obvious, but then again what is Google for anyway?

---

Have you read the Terms of Service [sourceforge.com] lately?

I am shocked! (1)

binpajama (1213342) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549101)

You mean people who write good papers get Nobel prizes? Wow!

Also, I didn't know that people who won Nobel prizes for fundamental discoveries won't post facto get gratuitous citations in the first line of the introduction of every subsequent paper in the field.

Page Rank captures whatever is `sensational', in every domain of human activity. Having RTFA, I conclude that if all that is sensational is good, then what we have here is an empirical demonstration of circular reasoning. If all that is good need not be sensational, we simply have misleading anecdotal evidence.

Large Numbers (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549725)

The foundation for the work of Messrs. Maslov and Redner was laid by Hari Seldon, who discovered [wikipedia.org] that "while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events." The recent paper by Messrs. Maslov and Redner represents the smallest corpus to which Seldon's theory has been successfully applied to date.

Further applications of these techniques to this same corpus will likely fall afoul of Seldon's second axiom: "the population should remain in ignorance of the results of the application of" the analysis.

Re:Large Numbers (1)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550903)

Yeah, Hari Seldon [wikipedia.org] 's work lays an interesting Foundation [wikipedia.org] for Psychohistory [wikipedia.org] .

Citations are often negative (3, Informative)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549771)

There's a tool [google.com] that tries to create a network of reviews, rather than just citations. In this case, the reviewer actually specifies the level of endorsement, whereas citations can mean anything. One of the most common reasons to cite a paper is to say "Our idea is way better than this lame idea", or "These guys did something similar, but it comparatively sucked". Sometimes the worst implementations get cited the most because they are so easy to improve upon. Why should that build up a paper?

This hasn't been that hard, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549781)

For the last 8 years it's always went to the guy who hates Bush and/or America, while supporting GlobalWarming(TM).

It started on shakey ground, taking dynamite profits to appreciate things that "surely" will end war, and nowdays it's like everything else: monetarily defined, without needless morals to get in the way.

The Nobel Prize means nothing, if Al Gore gets one for charging people money to take carbon dioxide out of the air. (When he can't, and CO2 actually COOLS the planet, not warms it.)

Just another loss of another institution...see also Journalism.

Cause and effect confusion (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550053)

Sorry, but links do not make a Nobel.

Blog author hypes - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550179)

I read the blog entry - and all of the three pages of the article.

Firstly, the article on arXiv claims nothing about predictive power of any of these ranking algorithms on who will win a Noble prize.

Secondly, the blog author ("KFC") claims this "suggests an idea. Mining the later entries in this list might be an good way of predicting future prize winners".

Well, the issue here is that these ranks are always computed for "the current state", that is for "today". If these ranks were to have predictive power, they would have to be computed for the time up to the point in time when the Noble prize was awarded to the author.

Why is this "time" aspect important? Imagine the following (construed, extreme) scenario:

* 1950: Author X publishes article
* 1951: Article gets one citation

                              -- this is the point in time that matters for prediction!

* 1952: Author is awarded the Noble Prize
* 1953: Plenty of citations for the Noble prize winner

So, there you go. The blog author completely neglects the temporal aspect required for the ranks to have predictive (aka "future") value.

Impact factor? (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552507)

I wonder how different the result are from the normal cumulated Impact factor of the scientists publications....

But i forgot. Google is the only database on the planet....

popular != important (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553119)

Such an algorithm may be quite good at indicating popular papers and topics. But there are ideas which are like urban legends. They spread faster than they get falsified. Just think about topics like "cold fusion" or "transmutation of matter". An idea is not good just because it is attractive.

Nobel in physics - this year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553905)

This is one more proof that the Nobel prize in physics this year was a total mistake. It should have been given to Cabibbo, who is rated first in the Pageranking. The work of Kobayashi and Masukawa is heavily based on his original work.

This is also a proof that there's correlation effect, not causation, going on here. Cabibbo didn't receive the Nobel prize, thus the high number of citations cannot be due to a subsequent fame.

Cause or Effect? (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26555705)

If it's a valid predictor, it would produce those results based only on citations before the author receives a Nobel nomination. An author known to be a Nobel nominee, and especially a Nobel prize winner, will receive more citations and page reads based on their Nobel notoriety. An author who fails to cite a Nobel winning paper would be considered to have incomplete references, and the referees or thesis committee will tell them to add those missing citations.

backwards history (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26555981)

Actually, citation ranking was first and developed some time in the 1970's. Google's page rank algorithm was an application of citation ranking to the web. The original Page Rank paper even cites the citation ranking papers.

(This also kinds of points out a problem with citation ranking: everybody these days is going to cite page rank, even though the idea originally was developed by other people. So, citation ranking isn't going to tell you who should get the credit, only who popularized an idea.)

The only real bit of information in the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26558463)

This simply confirms that Cabibbo got screwed. Those who do particle physics have long known this and that's why he still gets first bill as the C in the "CKM matrix". This isn't to say that K and M didn't deserve the prize.

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