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SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURE

Appendix: Plagiarism in Papers by Edward Wegman and Karl Weick

Andrew Gelman, Thomas Basbøll

The details of the cases discussed in “To Throw Away Data” are summarized here. These examples are not intended to represent all the evidence in these incidents, but to demonstrate the nature of the copying.

1a. From an old Wikipedia article on the simplex algorithm, revised on September 11, 2004:

In 1972, Klee and Minty gave an example of a linear programming problem in which the polytope P is a distortion of an n-dimensional cube. They showed that the simplex method as formulated by Danzig visits all 2n vertices before arriving at the optimal vertex. This shows that the worst-case complexity of the algorithm is exponential time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Simplex_algorithm"&oldid=7352528

1b. From “Roadmap for optimization,” by Yasmin H. Said and Edward J. Wegman, in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews, Computational Statistics (a journal for which Wegman and Said were two of the three executive editors), first published online July 13, 2009:

Klee and Minty3 developed a linear programming problem in which the polytope P is a distortion of a d-dimensional cube. In this case, the simplex method visits all 2d vertices before arriving at the optimal vertex. Thus the worst-case complexity for the simplex algorithm is exponential time.

Said, Y., and E. Wegman. 2009. Roadmap for optimization. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews, Computational Statistics 1:3–17. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wics.16/abstract

In Wegman and Said’s text, the variable is different (d rather than n), and the superscripting in 2n is lost.

2a. We await permission to reprint the version of Miroslav Holub's poem that appears in the Times Literary Supplement in 1977, “Brief thoughts on maps,” which is the subject of the plagiarism case at hand. In the interim, below is the poem’s second stanza.

This version was translated by Jarmila and Ian Milner. The full text of the poem can be found in this PDF (a full link is shown at the end of this paragraph). A few notes: The site linked to is not affiliated with American Scientist. The word “despatched” is spelled as it was in the Times in the stanza below, but its spelling is modernized in the PDF. Otherwise, the version in the PDF is faithful to that which appeared in the Times. The definitive version of the poem, which is less widely available, appears in Miroslav Holub: Poems Before and After, translated by Ewald Osers. http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/6-2/6-2basboell-graham.pdf

The young lieutenant of a small Hungarian detachment in the Alps
    sent a reconnaissance unit out into the icy wasteland.
    It began to snow
    immediately, snowed for two days and the unit
    did not return. The lieutenant suffered: he had despatched
    his own people to death. . . .

Holub, M. 1977. Brief thoughts on maps. J. and I. Milner, trans. Times Literary Supplement. Issue 3908:118. February 4.

2b. Except for a few minor differences, the bulk of this paragraph from Karl Weick’s article “Substitutes for strategy” is a verbatim reproduction of the Milners’ translation of Holub’s poem. In a text composed of 144 words, there are 6 differences. (In addition, Holub’s line breaks are eliminated in the Weick paragraph). Weick does not reference Holub, nor does he use quotation marks:

Definitions not withstanding, I can best show what I think strategy is by describing an incident that happened during military maneuvers in Switzerland. The young lieutenant of a small Hungarian detachment in the Alps sent a reconnaissance unit out into the icy wilderness. It began to snow immediately, snowed for two days, and the unit did not return. The lieutenant suffered, fearing that he had dispatched his own people to death. But the third day the unit came back. Where had they been? How had they made their way? Yes, they said, we considered ourselves lost and waited for the end. And then one of us found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down. We pitched camp, lasted out the snowstorm, and then with the map we discovered our bearings. And here we are. The lieutenant borrowed this remarkable map and had a good look at it. He discovered to his astonishment that it was not a map of the Alps but of the Pyrenees.

Weick, K. E. 1987. Substitutes for strategy. In The Competitive Challenge: Strategies for Industrial Innovation and Renewal. D. J. Teece, ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger. pp. 222–233.

Although we are most concerned with the Milners' translation of Holub's poem, we are thankful to Bloodaxe Books for permission to reprint Ewald Osers’s authoritative translation, which appears, for reference, below.

Brief reflection on maps

Albert Szent-Gyorgi, who knew a thing or two about maps,
    by which life moves somewhere or other,
    used to tell this story from the war,
    through which history moves somewhere or other:

From a small Hungarian unit in the Alps a young lieutenant
    sent out a scouting party into the icy wastes.
    At once
    it began to snow, it snowed for two days and the party
    did not return. The lieutenant was in distress: he had sent
    his men to their deaths.

On the third day, however, the scouting party was back.
    Where had they been? How had they managed to find their way?
    Yes, the men explained, we certainly thought we were
    lost and awaited our end. When suddenly one of our lot
    found a map in his pocket. We felt reassured.
    We made a bivouac, waited for the snow to stop, and then with the map
    found the right direction.
    And here we are.

The lieutenant asked to see that remarkable map in order to
    study it. It wasn’t a map of the Alps
    but the Pyrenees.

Goodbye.

—Miroslav Holub

Holub, M. 2006. Poems Before and After. E. Osers et al., trans. Northumberland, England: Bloodaxe Books.


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