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

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the stochastically-orthogonal-and-trivially-affine dept.

Math 197

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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197 comments

Argument (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705259)

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 (4, Interesting)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705353)

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

Bravo, good sir! Another milestone!

Re:Argument (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#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 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706735)

How do I know that that is genuine Lorem Ipsum and not just some random rubbish?

Re:Argument (3, Interesting)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705717)

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...

Re:Argument (5, Insightful)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Argument (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#41707137)

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.

Re:Argument (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705481)

I hope you will not object if I offer my most enthusiastic contrafibularities.

yea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706255)

i like
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0XXmVts1y0

Re:Argument (0)

dark-br (473115) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705571)

This comment is not a debate contest in which I convince you to agree with me or vice versa. This comment is concerned only with establishing the truth about Mr. MyLongNickName. Some background is in order: MyLongNickName spouts all kinds of puffery about his moral vigor. Well, sure, he has somehow found the fortitude to endure our ongoing humiliation and discomfort at the hands of his cringers, but the larger point is that MyLongNickName insists that there won't be any blowback from his ridiculing, parodying, censoring, and downgrading opposing ideas. In the long run, however, he's only fooling himself. MyLongNickName would be better off if he just admitted to himself that he is stepping over the line when he attempts to trick academics into abandoning the principles of scientific inquiry—way over the line.

MyLongNickName says that depraved yo-yos are all inherently good, sensitive, creative, and inoffensive. That's a stupid thing to say. It's like saying that the world can be happy only when his posse is given full rein. If he can one day smear and defame me then the long descent into night is sure to follow.

The question, therefore, must not be, "Is MyLongNickName genetically predisposed to deflecting attention from his unwillingness to support policies that benefit the average citizen?" but rather, "What demons possessed him to develop a Pavlovian reflex in us, to make us afraid to lay the groundwork for an upcoming attempt to get my message about MyLongNickName out to the world?". The latter question is the better one to ask because bitterness seeps out of MyLongNickName like blood from an underdone ribeye steak. That extreme bitterness is, as far as I can tell, what leads him to consign most of us to the role of his servants or slaves. To end this letter, I would like to make a bet with Mr. MyLongNickName. I will gladly give him a day's salary if he can prove that you and I are objects for him to use then casually throw away and forget like old newsprint that's performed its duty catching bird droppings, as he insists. If MyLongNickName is unable to prove that, then his end of the bargain is to step aside while I unveil the semiotic patterns that he utilizes to create a beachhead for organized Lysenkoism. So, do we have a bet, MyLongNickName?

Re:Argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706091)

The pig go. Go is to the fountain. The pig put foot. Grunt. Foot in what? ketchup. The dove fly. Fly is in sky. The dove drop something. The something on the pig. The pig disgusting. The pig rattle. Rattle with dove. The dove angry. The pig leave. The dove produce. Produce is chicken wing. With wing bark. No Quack.

Re:Argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706245)

I want a chance to review randomly generated nonsense and respond to it too!! Oh wait, I just did.

Re:Argument (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706477)

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.

Trolling math journals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706571)

no wonder they need to charge.

Re:Argument (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706681)

Once again, I find disappointment. Once again, I find no satisfaction. Once again, I find that despicable authoritarians have no business here. What follows is a series of remarks addressed to the readers of this letter and to MyLongNickName , Esq. himself. His balmy precepts transform our society into a mischievous war machine. News of this deviousness must spread like wildfire if we are ever to take up the all-encompassing challenge of freedom, justice, equality, and the pursuit of life with full dignity.

Although some mumpish reprobates reluctantly concede that this letter should be regarded as the beginning, not the end, of my stance against MyLongNickName, they invariably deny that if MyLongNickName is going to divert us from proclaiming what in our innermost conviction is absolutely necessary, then he should at least have the self-respect to remind himself of a few things: First, some of the things he says and some of the things he stands for are so scary, it hurts to think about them. And second, I do not find strictures that are huffy, appalling, and abysmal to be "funny". Maybe I lack a sense of humor, but maybe we must get my message about MyLongNickName out to the world. As mentioned above, however, that is not enough. It is necessary to do more. It is necessary to institute change.

MyLongNickName is capable of only two things, namely whining and underhanded tricks. Even if one isn't completely conversant with current events, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the question that's on everyone's mind these days is, "Will peeling back the onion of his predatory belief systems cause him to shed tears or will it merely enhance his desire to entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of the ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice of the most diversivolent troublemakers you'll ever see?" I have searched numerous sources for answers to that question. No two sources seem to agree on any given point except for one, that a surprisingly large number of sanctimonious pontificators consider MyLongNickName to be their savior. This overwhelmingly positive view of MyLongNickName is obviously not shared by those who have been victims of MyLongNickName's offhand remarks or by those who believe that MyLongNickName has a knack for convincing philopolemical widdifuls (especially the impertinent type) that he is always being misrepresented and/or persecuted. That's called marketing. The underlying trick is to use sesquipedalian terms like "hyperconscientiousness" and "epididymodeferentectomy" to keep his sales pitch from sounding petty. That's why you really have to look hard to see that avaricious, perverted busybodies often take earthworms or similar small animals and impale them on a pin to enjoy watching them twist and writhe as they slowly die. Similarly, MyLongNickName enjoys watching respectable people twist and writhe whenever he threatens to oppose the visceral views of 98 percent of the nation's citizens. Before you read this letter, you might have thought that it's okay if MyLongNickName , Esq.'s beliefs initially cause our quality of life to degrade because "sometime", "someone" will do "something" "somehow" to counteract that trend. Now you know that MyLongNickName has a different style but no more scruples than most unprofessional scammers.

Could be worse... (5, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705325)

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

Re:Could be worse... (1)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705873)

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

Re:Could be worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706149)

It'd be both hilarious and awful.

Re:Could be worse... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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"...

Re:Could be worse... (1)

c (8461) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706589)

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

Re:Could be worse... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41707097)

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.

Literally accept anything. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Literally accept anything. (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Literally accept anything. (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705675)

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.

Re:Literally accept anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705897)

He Slashdots like I play poker. The cards barely matter, play the people. In Slashdot terminology: The article doesn't matter, and no one else will read it either.

Or as a car anology: the oil filter doesn't matter if you can convince the owner never to drive.

Re:Literally accept anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705931)

The lemon custard is clearly superior: obligatory [xkcd.com].

Big deal? Not really. (5, Insightful)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705405)

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.

Re:Big deal? Not really. (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year and a half ago | (#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?

Re:Big deal? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705883)

Because virtually *all* open access journals publish junk. Point me to one good computer science paper that's published as open access. That'll be hard, because most actually good computer science work is published with the ACM or the IEEE (or Springer- often with a focus on cryptography, which admittedly is often published in the IACR archives).

Re:Big deal? Not really. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706697)

It wasn't an open access journal which published the "arsenic in DNA" paper, it was one of the highest impact factor journal to exist "Science".

Re:Big deal? Not really. (5, Funny)

retep (108840) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705817)

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

Re:Big deal? Not really. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706109)

You cold bastard....

Re:Big deal? Not really. (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706293)

OW! MY EYES!

You should really post a warning when linking to a site that uses a geocities template. And even though it's not as NSFW as goatse, my monitor is now on fire, the fabric is burning off the walls of my cubicle, and my retinas are bleeding.

Re:Big deal? Not really. (3, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705907)

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.

There is a blind spot here in our understanding of (3, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706225)

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.

To put it another way, (0)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706289)

nature exists and has a nature.

But the fact that "truth" is said to inhere in nature results from humans, not nature, since "truth" is a human construction.

Re:To put it another way, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706439)

This statement succinctly explains why the Scientific philosophy is like any other philosophy, rather than being innate to human nature.

I hate to admit it, but this is as good as "Sokal" (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705455)

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.

Re:I hate to admit it, but this is as good as "Sok (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705707)

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".

Re:I hate to admit it, but this is as good as "Sok (1)

nomadic (141991) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706587)

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

Uhh...by who?

Re:I hate to admit it, but this is as good as "Sok (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706859)

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

Brilliant references! (4, Funny)

homb (82455) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705465)

This is awesome:

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

Re:Brilliant references! (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705773)

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:Brilliant references! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706155)

You'd think that anyone steeped in Mathematics would have some passing familiarity with classical music and thus have heard of Herr Professor Schickile.

But perhaps that is an acquired taste.

Re:Brilliant references! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705789)

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.

My god, even I could figure it out (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705479)

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.

Re:My god, even I could figure it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705927)

Well, I honestly only looked at the paper with the intention of calling bullshit on you based on my experience with arXiv vs snarXiv [snarxiv.org], but you're right.

The tangent of infinity to the minus one power? Zero to the negative fourth power?

There might be some higher level math or something going on there, I'm no mathematician, but anyone with a high school education should at least be getting multiple red flags from that first line alone.

interesting ... (-1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705487)

... as M. Rathke has an h-index of 17.

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Ha ha, made ya look. (heard in a Nelson from the Simpsons voice)

The Good Papers are in Reputable Journals (5, Insightful)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:The Good Papers are in Reputable Journals (2)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705961)

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.

View from the outside (5, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:View from the outside (4, Funny)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year and a half ago | (#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."

Re:View from the outside (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:View from the outside (1)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705991)

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.

Re:View from the outside (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706655)

If no one understands your paper, who is going to cite it? Who is going comment or continue on the work? Who is going to hire you or give you a grant if they don't look at your publications and can't see what you've done?

Correlation != Causation (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705547)

The web semiconductor industry has been killed by typical coke-swilling, hooker banging M$ propaganda. The efforts by the MAFIAA in sending work offshore to Soviet Russia has the effect of an emacs vs. vi, GNOME vs. KDE type controversy. I, for one, promise to boycott all products from ICANN until they agree to turn up the volume to 11.

Re:Correlation != Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706167)

The web semiconductor industry has been killed by typical coke-swilling, hooker banging M$ propaganda. The efforts by the MAFIAA in sending work offshore to Soviet Russia has the effect of an emacs vs. vi, GNOME vs. KDE type controversy. I, for one, promise to boycott all products from ICANN until they agree to turn up the volume to 11.

Well, that's a very interesting hypothesis, however I think you should argue your points a bit better. Also, you might consider reformulating your ideas so that they are more easy to understand. As is, only the experts in your topic, whatever it is, will be able to understand your post.

Automated science journal to patent bot (2)

Righ (677125) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705599)

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.

Re:Automated science journal to patent bot (1)

Shagg (99693) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705849)

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

Re:Automated science journal to patent bot (1)

samkass (174571) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706121)

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.

This works in politics, too (5, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705627)

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

Ridiculous conclusion (3, Informative)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705645)

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.

Re:Ridiculous conclusion (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705797)

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

Re:Ridiculous conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706757)

Actually, half of the point of feedback is improving the paper.

Re:Ridiculous conclusion (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706927)

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.

Infinite monkey theorem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705661)

Put this article generator on a supercomputer and it will solve all existing math puzzles in a finite time.

I wonder if it can be improved (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705739)

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.

Re:I wonder if it can be improved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705921)

The crazy part is that it would have real potential to advance the field. No human has the capacity to read every journal in every field.

However, and anyhow... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705791)

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.

What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705823)

What if there was a randomly generated Slashdot article that got posted? But then again, how would we ever know?!?

The paper did not actually get published (2)

amorsen (7485) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706033)

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.

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706341)

Those 5 changes were pretty severe:

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.

Shill attack against open access (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706053)

Obviously. The big name journals are scared that their cash cow is threatened. Too bad most "science journals" have no wish to distribute science, which their mission statement claims but only to make cold hard money. Piles of it.

Open access is what science is all about.

Since the advent of the internet, the middle man has become threatened species. And unsurprisingly they don't like it.

Thus, as a one small front in this battle for bad and outdated business models, we see this lame thrust.

Color me not impressed.

This is Hilarious: (5, Funny)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year and a half ago | (#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...

Re:This is Hilarious: (2)

PTBarnum (233319) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706831)

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? (4, Interesting)

call -151 (230520) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706073)

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 it was correct? (1)

sifi (170630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706085)

Maybe MathGen randomly managed to generate a paper was a truly original result by accident? - did anyone bother to check?

Re:Maybe it was correct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706997)

Maybe the sun didn't rise this morning!? Did anyone bother to check?

Good first step (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706107)

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.

Re:Good first step (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706985)

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.

Randomly Generated ? (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706363)

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

Don't lump all open-access journals together (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706649)

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 goals, but some flak will squeeze through. After all, there isn't a lot of money available to pay academics to review journal articles and determine the value of the research.

Required to be revised = not superficial (1)

Orga (1720130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706729)

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.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41706867)

Did no one read the article and see the email from the publication? The publication is basically telling him to rewrite the entire thing and include proof and examples in a more coherent meaning. A bit of a sensational headline for a non-event.

Mathgen almost passed the Turing Test? (1)

cpghost (719344) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706967)

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!
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