Archive for January 5th, 2008

HowTo: not read obviously wrong mathematical papers

January 5, 2008

Scott Aaronson at Shtetl-Optimized asks the following question:

… I want to explore the following metaquestion: suppose someone sends you a complicated solution to a famous decades-old math problem, like P vs. NP. How can you decide, in ten minutes or less, whether the solution is worth reading?

He goes on to give ten telltale signs which indicate that any given paper is wrong. Here is the first one:

1. The authors don’t use TeX. This simple test (suggested by Dave Bacon) already catches at least 60% of wrong mathematical breakthroughs. David Deutsch and Lov Grover are the only known false positives.

Do I need to tell more? Don’t these three sentences make it a must-read post? Have fun!