Dogfooding academia

MIT pranksters submitted two academic papers to a scientific conference: Both were “computer-generated gibberish.” “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy” was accepted for presentation at the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), which will be held in Orlando in July.

Jeremy Stribling said 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 “context-free grammar,” charts and diagrams.

. . . “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.”

You can write your own meaningless computer science paper by using the paper generator at their SCIgen site. I tried it myself and came up with this:

The exploration of lambda calculus is a practical issue. In this work, we confirm the investigation of B-trees. We concentrate our efforts on showing that the much-tauted signed algorithm for the emulation of operating systems by Davis et al. runs in W(2n) time.

Results refer to “Dogfooding Our Algorithm.” This version — I did it for you, John — also uses “dogfood” as a verb. Hmm.

Update: WMSCI notes the “Rooter” paper was accepted as a “non-reviewed” paper. Nobody actually read it before accepting it for presentation at the conference.

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Comments

  1. “Dogfooding” derives from the phrase “eat your own dog food,” used to describe the practice of a software company using its own software for business operations: for example, Windows and not Mac OS X nor Linux on desktop computers at Microsoft.

    For example: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/03/29.html

    Academics may have extended the term to the analogous use of an algorithm or program to aid research.

  2. Further down on the linked page is a reference to Alan Sokol’s famous hoax – Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.

    Of course back in 1994 we didn’t have computers to generate our hoaxs for us and Mr. Sokol did it the old-fashioned way, on a word processor. You do have to admire the chutzpah, or insight, of a guy who thinks he can get a paper published that purports to prove that gravity is a social construct.

  3. Hey! That sounds an awful lot like the edu-babble we get at inservices and ed. grad classes!

  4. I wish that there was such a machine in my undergraduate days…It would have saved a lot of time.

  5. Gee, that sounds like the stuff I’m assigned in most of my upper-level English classes too!

    I always suspected they were full of bunk (and everyone was too afraid to admit it, because they didn’t want to look stupid for not understanding how “deep” and “truly beautiful” it was), and now I have proof!

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    Internal Server Error
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  7. Cousin Dave says:

    What? That can’t be a CS paper! It doesn’t say a word about non-deterministic computing!

    /very geeky joke

  8. BadaBing says:

    I have a sneaking feeling that most post-modernist “thinkers” use a computer to generate their “thoughts.”

  9. Badabing: I think they just use the random-word generator between their ears.