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Friday, April 15, 2005


Dichotomizing the Heuristics

From Reuters/Yahoo!:


A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation.

The prank recalled a 1996 hoax in which New York University physicist Alan Sokal succeeded in getting an entire paper with a mix of truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs and otherwise meaningless mumbo-jumbo published in the journal Social Text....

"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions."...

The students were soliciting cash donations so they could attend the conference and give what Stribling billed as a "randomly generated talk." So far, they have raised more than $2,000 over the Internet.



Reuters missed out on part of the story:


SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator....

SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.

One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to "fake" conferences; that is, conferences with no quality standards, which exist only to make money. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (for example, check out the gibberish on the WMSCI 2005 website). Using SCIgen to generate submissions for conferences like this gives us pleasure to no end. In fact, one of our papers was accepted to SCI 2005!...



Well, initially:


Subject: WMSCI 2005 Registration
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 00:20:37 -0400
From: WMSCI 2005 System
Reply-To: WMSCI 2005 System
To: XXXX



Dear Mr. Jeremy STRIBLING,

We are sorry to inform you that we just made the refund of the
registration you made for WMSCI 2005 conference. As you know, your
paper acceptance was done as a non-reviewed one because, as we
informed you, we had no review of your paper by the acceptance
deadline. As a non-reviewed paper its status might have changed to a
reviewed one if we would have received a positive evaluation of it
after the acceptance deadline. But, since you gave the information in
your web page that the paper was a fake one, we think we should not
accept your registration even if you have total responsibility on the
content of your paper (as a non-reviewed one).

Sincerely,

WMSCI 2005 Administrative Staff



WMSCI 2005 says more about the multiple bogus papers that it received:


With regards to the bogus papers submitted to WMSCI 2005

The organizing committee received several bogus papers. Some of them were randomly generated. In fact, one of them was detected by one of its 3 reviewers and it was refused. We had no reviewing feedback for the second one. By the acceptance deadline we had a low percentage of papers from which we had no evaluations. These papers could not be accepted and could not be refused. We believe that it is unfair to refuse a paper that was not refused by any of its three selected reviewers. So, we decided to communicate the respective authors that we had no reviews yet of their paper and due to this the acceptance is stated as a NON-REVIEWED paper. We were very clear that the paper had not been reviewed, and we were explicit about it. The possibility of non-reviewing acceptance has been stated in the conference web page.

Several conferences that announce the possibility of reviewed and non-reviewed papers simultaneously can be found on the Web. Authors of non-reviewed papers, as well as invited papers, have complete responsibility of the content of their paper. Indeed, there are prestigious conferences that accept papers with an abstract of no more than 50 words, so there is no full paper reviewing before accepting the paper.

Our conferences are not oriented just to research papers, but also to position papers, invited papers, invited session’s papers, panels’ presentations, etc. This has been clearly and explicitly stated in the conferences’ call for papers. This is one of the reasons why we have not been using the phrase of "refereed proceedings"

In our automated support system for the reviewing process, a computer program selects at random three reviewers for each paper. If by the acceptance deadline we have not received reviewing feedback for a given paper, the program sends a reminding message to the selected reviewers and selects one additional or more reviewers for the same paper. We do this in order to avoid human intervention in the selection of the reviewers. We were aware about some bogus papers we had in the past, and we were trying to find ways to eliminate, or at least minimize, the probability of these kinds of situations.

This year we had a variety of malicious hacking on our conference web sites. They have been hacked frequently and continuously in the last few months. In fact, some files were even cracked, moved, deleted, changed, etc. We had to stop some of the conferences’ processes, disabling the link of the menu's option related to "papers submission" because of the quantity of bogus papers being sent.

The quality level of WMSCI conferences has been tested for about 9 years by their participants who, in many cases congratulated the Organization and the Program Committee. How could you otherwise explain the conference attendance increase from 45 to a range of 900-1150 attendees in the last years?



Well, how else can we explain the conference attendance? Maybe the fact that it isn't being held in Enumclaw, Washington might be part of the attraction:


The Conference will be held at the Rosen Centre Hotel, located in the heart of Orlando. This award-winning hotel establishes a spectacular standard of meeting quality. Impressive meeting capabilities combine with beautiful accommodations with resort-style luxury, assure delegates enjoy a productive business environment and a superb vacation opportunity.

The Rosen Centre Hotel is perfectly situated to provide its guest easy access to Orlando’s most popular attractions. It is just 12 minutes from Orlando International Airport, 5 minutes to Sea World and Universal Orlando, 10 minutes to Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, one block from Pointe Orlando shopping & entertainment complex and 15 minutes to downtown Orlando.
The Rosen Centre Hotel is located at:

9840 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819, U.S.A.



P.S. To see a sample of a paper generated by SCIgen, click here.

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