Wednesday, March 08, 2006

For future reference

It's always a joy (if a slightly vain one) to see one's work cited, as in this paper which makes an important step in the program to understand the representation theory of quantum affine algebras:

Paths and tableaux descriptions of Jacobi-Trudi determinant associated with quantum affine algebra of type Dn
W. Nakai, T. Nakanishi

I've received a few citations before, but the sense of recognition that comes from seeing my name on the page is still strong. According to researchers who are considerably my senior, this feeling is very slow to fade.

It reminds me of a point of advice made by Gian-Carlo Rota at a 1996 conference in his honor:

8 Give lavish acknowledgments

I have always felt miffed after reading a paper in which I felt I was not being given proper credit, and it is safe to conjecture that the same happens to everyone else. One day, I tried an experiment. After writing a rather long paper, I began to draft a thorough bibliography. On the spur of the moment, I decided to cite a few papers which had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of my paper, to see what might happen.

Somewhat to my surprise, I received letters from two of the authors whose papers I believed were irrelevant to my article. Both letters were written in an emotionally charged tone. Each of the authors warmly congratulated me for being the first to acknowledge their contribution to the field.

One may conclude that the marginal cost of liberal citation is overwhelmed by the potential for improved collegiality.

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