# Math Publishing for Dummies!

November 20, 2012 11:28 AM Subscribe

Mathgen is a program to randomly generate professional-looking mathematics papers, including theorems, proofs, equations, discussion, and references. Try Mathgen for yourself! (PDF example) It’s a fork of SCIgen, a program which generates random papers in computer science. Surprisingly, Mathgen has already had it's first randomly-generated paper accepted by a "journal".

I got a paper on maximizing the wiener ideal, so I actually found the fake paper MORE readable than the real ones (at least up through the end of the title).

posted by DU at 11:33 AM on November 20, 2012

posted by DU at 11:33 AM on November 20, 2012

I had the same feeling as Space Coyote.

posted by A Bad Catholic at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2012

posted by A Bad Catholic at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2012

The true magic to me isn't the random terms that it puts together, but rather the perfect formatting of the papers. Incredible.

posted by DynamiteToast at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

posted by DynamiteToast at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

DynamiteToast: TeX is fucking awesome.

posted by idiopath at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by idiopath at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

*The true magic to me isn't the random terms that it puts together, but rather the perfect formatting of the papers. Incredible.*

For truth. I was like, shit, that's quite nice actually.

posted by Lutoslawski at 11:43 AM on November 20, 2012

I can't read things like this. There's just a part of my brain that inherently wants them to make sense-

Props to the creator though, it is a marvel that things like this exist. Now he just needs to setup some hardware to emulate the production of the hard copy of the paper itself through a vintage typewriter/teletype and they'll really have something.

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2012

*slash*-compute and when they are obviously jibberish or worded as if they've been through 3 rounds of google translate telephone they simply don't....... It just hurts.Props to the creator though, it is a marvel that things like this exist. Now he just needs to setup some hardware to emulate the production of the hard copy of the paper itself through a vintage typewriter/teletype and they'll really have something.

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2012

The joke is that these are all actually real, published, peer-reviewed papers, but nobody has recognized them yet.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2012 [10 favorites]

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2012 [10 favorites]

Idiopath: Yes, it is. I'm just bad at it.

posted by DynamiteToast at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2012

posted by DynamiteToast at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2012

One hopes that this leads to actual reform of the peer-review system, instead of the two more likely bad scenarios:

1) postmodernists throwing this in the face of anyone who brings up the time they got burned, thus preventing any move towards coherence in that domain

or

2) anti-scientists using this as a way to refute any published study they disagree with

I'm not holding my breath.

posted by daveliepmann at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2012

1) postmodernists throwing this in the face of anyone who brings up the time they got burned, thus preventing any move towards coherence in that domain

or

2) anti-scientists using this as a way to refute any published study they disagree with

I'm not holding my breath.

posted by daveliepmann at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2012

*Surprisingly, Mathgen has already had it's first randomly-generated paper accepted by a "journal".*

Unsurprising, automated con artists try to con automated con artists.

Also, "its".

posted by aught at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

*One hopes that this leads to actual reform of the peer-review system...*

Ironically, you appear not to have reviewed the link.

posted by DU at 11:53 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

*I got a paper on maximizing the wiener ideal*

And damn you for not posting a link.

posted by adamdschneider at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2012

*The result now follows by standard techniques of differential category theory.*

You can put this after just about anything.

posted by Wolfdog at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

One nice touch: of the nineteen papers cited in my fake paper, three of them are other fake papers that I wrote.

posted by madcaptenor at 11:58 AM on November 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

posted by madcaptenor at 11:58 AM on November 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

Well sure. For that same $500 processing fee, he can appear in my journal, too. Also, for $100 he can get his name put in to my new directory, "Important Figures in Modern Mathematics," which some people respect more than "Who's Who."

posted by tyllwin at 12:06 PM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by tyllwin at 12:06 PM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Just more evidence of how fuzzy-headed the discipline of mathematics is. They could really learn something from the strict theoretical grounding and academic rigor of cultural studies.

posted by whir at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

posted by whir at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

*> Then every freely Kummer-Tate modulus is sub-closed, globally contra-empty and onto.*

This needs to be sung by Wagnerian Amazons, in rowboats, on a lake of fire. And jello.

posted by stonepharisee at 12:25 PM on November 20, 2012

I'm at work and don't have have time to look for it, but I recall reading a while back (like, years ago... I'm pretty sure it was on MeFi) about an engineer or something who wrote a gibberish paper in lit-crit speak that was accepted by a humanities journal, followed by the predictable snark. Shoe's on the other foot now, huh?

posted by the_bone at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by the_bone at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2012

I am pretty sure I also remember that kerfluffle.

posted by elizardbits at 12:32 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by elizardbits at 12:32 PM on November 20, 2012

The paper I got asserts at the end of one paragraph that "It is well known that the Riemann hypothesis holds." OK then.

posted by tykky at 12:43 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by tykky at 12:43 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Sokal thing happened in the context of the science wars.

posted by subtle-t at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by subtle-t at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2012

I'm very tempted to print out "Some Structure Results for Separable Functions by M. McNamara, Q. Grassmann and I.P. Freely" and just happen to 'accidentally' leave it around at Thanksgiving to see what my family thinks.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It really wasn't accepted as-is, though, right? The editor wanted revisions, and among those revisions was basically "you should make this make sense". Not a very rigorous peer-review process, granted, but at least they knew there was something wrong with it.

posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2012

yeah, I'm feeling some nice schadenfreud for the Sokal types. Turns out that bad journals in many disciplines will accept crap.

posted by jb at 1:10 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by jb at 1:10 PM on November 20, 2012

Why Marcie Rathke is not Alan Sokal

posted by tykky at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

*I’m flattered by the comparison, but I wanted to take some space to respond and point out some essential differences between the two cases.*posted by tykky at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

But the idea that

I wouldn't say that there are no problems in the humanities with lack of rigour, just that there is clearly blacking on the pot as well.

posted by jb at 1:49 PM on November 20, 2012

*Social Text*is a "'leading journal' of cultural studies" was itself, as noted in tykky's link, according to Sokal. I've never heard any historian or other academic studying culture mention*Social Text*as that important.I wouldn't say that there are no problems in the humanities with lack of rigour, just that there is clearly blacking on the pot as well.

posted by jb at 1:49 PM on November 20, 2012

I'm at work and don't have have time to look for it, but I recall reading a while back (like, years ago... I'm pretty sure it was on MeFi) about an engineer or something who wrote a gibberish paper in lit-crit speak that was accepted by a humanities journal, followed by the predictable snark. Shoe's on the other foot now, huh?

And what's even more impressive is the lit-crit folk who wrote a Perl script to implement a context-free grammar that generated syntactically correct LaTeX.

posted by benito.strauss at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

And what's even more impressive is the lit-crit folk who wrote a Perl script to implement a context-free grammar that generated syntactically correct LaTeX.

posted by benito.strauss at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

*Shoe's on the other foot now, huh?*

Not really. We're still mocking nonsense journals that accept incomprehensible gibberish. That is still the foot the shoe is on.

posted by Wolfdog at 1:55 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Sokal "hoax" demonstrated a lack of editorial rigour (in a non-peer-reviewed journal). That's all. His, and others', gleeful chortling at the time that it was something more than that is so much wishful thinking.

What I find interesting is that while Sokal led the charge (which many who knew little-to-nothing about cultural studies were happy to join) in undermining

posted by Catchfire at 1:57 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

What I find interesting is that while Sokal led the charge (which many who knew little-to-nothing about cultural studies were happy to join) in undermining

*an entire discipline*because, after much hectoring, a journal agreed to publish his piece; Rathke's exposé is being presented to us as "only" editorial, and will in no way encourage a widespread call to undermine all of mathematics. The latter is perfectly reasonable. The prior is not.posted by Catchfire at 1:57 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

*“Of course, if the Riemann hypothesis holds then the Riemann hypothesis holds*.”

Yes, good point, but we feel the author should address the converse of this implication as well.

posted by Wolfdog at 2:02 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the Riemann hypothesis holds then the Riemann hypothesis fails.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:04 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:04 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

And if you need your nonsense in a high energy physics flavor, there's always the snarXiv.

posted by Zalzidrax at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by Zalzidrax at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2012

*Then every freely Kummer-Tate modulus is sub-closed, globally contra-empty and onto.*

If you sing this to the tune of Yes's

*Heart of the Sunrise*, the meaning becomes much clearer.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, you're right! I finally understand

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

*Heart of the Sunrise*!posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite songs, actually.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on November 20, 2012

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are "vanity" pseudo-professional journals out there. Sheesh.

posted by spock at 2:30 PM on November 20, 2012

posted by spock at 2:30 PM on November 20, 2012

Perhaps it's because I've just recently been reading a referee report on a mathematical paper that I recently submitted to a journal, but the following sentence from the "accepted by a 'journal'" link made me laugh a whole lot:

"On theorem 2.4, I consider that the author should give the corresponding proof."

. . . yes yes hmmm that is generally a good plan for a theorem

posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

"On theorem 2.4, I consider that the author should give the corresponding proof."

. . . yes yes hmmm that is generally a good plan for a theorem

posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't need to generate a whole paper, the proof is trivial.

posted by eruonna at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by eruonna at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

This seems like a good place to link to University of Colorado Denver Librarian Jeffrey Beall's List of Predatory Publishers on ScholarlyOA.

posted by Decimask at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Decimask at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Part Of The Series

One over two and you zero

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the prime error term

Oscillate me

Lost on a wave and then after

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

Lost in the series

Logs of integral primes absolutely hurry by

Count imaginary values as they divide

Proofs come to you and then after

Riemann on to the part of the series

Lost on a wave that you're dreaming

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the sum with so many around me

I feel lost in the series

Logs of integral primes absolutely hurry by

Count imaginary values as they divide

Straight line moving and removing

Sharpness of convergent sums infinite

Straight line searching all the meetings

Of the sum

Long last treatment of the telling that

Relates to all the factors

Euler product in the region really fits null

One over two and you zero

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the sum with so many around me

I feel lost in the series

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:27 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

One over two and you zero

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the prime error term

Oscillate me

Lost on a wave and then after

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

Lost in the series

Logs of integral primes absolutely hurry by

Count imaginary values as they divide

Proofs come to you and then after

Riemann on to the part of the series

Lost on a wave that you're dreaming

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the sum with so many around me

I feel lost in the series

Logs of integral primes absolutely hurry by

Count imaginary values as they divide

Straight line moving and removing

Sharpness of convergent sums infinite

Straight line searching all the meetings

Of the sum

Long last treatment of the telling that

Relates to all the factors

Euler product in the region really fits null

One over two and you zero

Riemann on to the part of the series

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the zeta function so confound me

NON-TRIVIAL

How can the sum with so many around me

I feel lost in the series

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:27 PM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

One of the references in my paper is to a paper in the

posted by klausness at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2012

*Afghan Journal of Modern Set Theory*...posted by klausness at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2012

*I feel lost in the series*

Welcome back!

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

*I'm very tempted to print out "Some Structure Results for Separable Functions by M. McNamara, Q. Grassmann and I.P. Freely" and just happen to 'accidentally' leave it around at Thanksgiving to see what my family thinks.*

I.P. Freely? The famous urologist?

posted by acb at 4:01 AM on November 21, 2012

He used to hang out with Claude Balls, author of

posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on November 21, 2012

*The Tiger's Revenge*.posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on November 21, 2012

Ok, people complaining about the peer-review procedure are missing the point; These types of things are done to find the bad journals, the ones that prey on desperate people looking to get published, that don't do proper peer review. You find them in every field: It has been done in computer science before, and probably many more fields.

posted by Canageek at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2012

posted by Canageek at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2012

Steven Pinker explains why a return to "classic prose" in academic writing is desperately needed.

posted by Dr. Fetish at 3:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Dr. Fetish at 3:26 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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posted by Space Coyote at 11:31 AM on November 20, 2012 [8 favorites]