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As written, http://mathoverflow.net/questions/34953/whats-wrong-with-this-proof is an awful question. The title has almost no information, and sounds crankier than it is, and the question is not a deep one. I don't see immediately how to salvage the question.
But perhaps it should be salvaged. I have no voted to close (yet), but I have added a comment linking to this thread.
I'm torn. On the one hand, there are several experts here who might be capable of evaluating the content of this paper, and MO would be a valuable place to store those evaluations. On the other hand, this feels a little gossipy. I guess I'll wait and see what everyone else thinks.
Qiaochu, are you suggesting that MO be used as a repository of expert opinions on unpublished papers? Even if "there are experts who might be able to evaluate the content", there are long-standing procedures in mathematics for doing this sort of work. In particular, reviews are not openly disseminated until the paper has been published in a journal. There are very, very good reasons not to deviate from these norms. In addition, some features of MO, such as open participation and anonymous voting, make it even less suitable for publicizing opinions than blogs and personal websites.
@VP: Good points. I defer to your expertise.
Is it OK if I ask a more specific question like:
does his approach avoid being a natural proof?
does his approach avoid being a natural proof?
By the way, here is Dick Lipton's related post:
And another closed MO question:
To follow up on Kaveh, I have been reading the paper and have an even more specific question relating to background knowledge about phase transitions for random k-SAT. Would that be admissible ?
I was referring to Kaveh's question, not the original post ....
VP (Vicktor Protsak?): "In particular, reviews are not openly disseminated until the paper has been published in a journal. There are very, very good reasons not to deviate from these norms."
Oliver: "commenting on an unpublished work is a delicate matter, raising hard personal and technical issues."
Forgive me, I guess this is because I am a junior researcher, but I don't understand this, can someone be more specific?
Other people have already started commenting on this work. I guess this difference in opinion might be due to a difference between TCS (and CS) culture and the norms in other areas in mathematics. Please remember that in TCS publishing in journals is not the norm, many papers never appear in journal versions (I can cite a number of discussions by TCS people on this if needed). IMHO, it might be nice if we have more opinions on this from people working in TCS to see if this kind of questions are against the accepted norms in TCS.
ps: if the reason that you don't like a question is this norm in mathematics, please state so in your comments. It is not nice nor helpful to state other reasons when the real reason you are voting a question down or objecting to it is this.
@VP I don't find your argument persuasive. There are plently of unpublished results that are discussed on MO and many other mathematical forums. Some may never be published - for a variety of reasons. If a question meets the rules then it is a legitimate question, regardless of its source. The rules should not include censorship based upon source. In the case at hand this point is probably moot since the question probably fails to meet other criteria without revision.
voloch: "Stop bumping old complexity theory questions. I think, despite you appearing to want to follow MO rules, you are really just trying to stir the pot"
Sorry if I have done anything wrong, but that was not intentional. I am not trying to stir the pot. I have only corrected some grammatical mistakes in my comment and added the cs.cc.complexity-theory tag to a few recent complexity questions, if this is what you mean by "bumping old complexity theory questions", I will stop doing this right away, though I don't understand what it has to do with this question. They were complexity questions lacking the tag, and they were on the firs page already. Have I done anything else? Here are my recent actions on MO: https://mathoverflow.net/users/7507?tab=recent.
voloch: "People should make a serious effort at reading the paper before asking such questions and they should refrain from underhanded methods to get attention to the issue."
As I said in my answer to Vicktor's comment on my question, I will try to follow this advice next time I ask a question (though it does not seem to be a MO rule or norm for asking questions), but it has nothing to do with the question itself. And could you please stop attacking me? What are "the underhanded methods to get attention to the issue" I am using? I have just asked a question, and I have come here to check if that will be an appropriate question before posting it. I really don't understand why you are reacting so negatively to this question.
volovh: "The natural places for this discussion are the TCS blogs, e.g. Lipton's or Aaronson's. I am sure you will have better luck over there. "
This is not a discussion, and I think it satisfies the requirements to be a an MO question, and it should be allowed to be on MO even if you think there are other natural places for them. The only serious and specific objection I have seen so far is that this is about an unpublished work, and the norm is to wait till it is published in a journal and it is disrespectful to discuss unpublished work of people before its publication. I personally would prefer to have opinion of some TCS researchers on this and see if they think it is appropriate or not, because it seems to me that the norm in TCS is a little different.
@Oliver: Thank you for the explanation. I understand your points. But the discussion about this work is already going on in public blogs which allow anonymous comments. And although I agree with your concerns, this has not happened yet, so I will appreciate if people wait a little longer to see if this gets out of control. I expect that no one will answer the question for a few days during which people working in complexity will read the paper and after that I might get a reasonable answer from some expert in the area. This is a very specific question and I don't think it will turn into a discussion about the work being correct or not.
I am inclined to close the newer question, because I think blogs are a better format than StackExchange for asking about and disseminating breaking news and rumors. If you're wondering what Deolalikar's argument has to do with natural proofs, you'll probably see an explanation first on a blog, anyway. As far as I can tell, the only remaining purpose of the current question is to ramp up the hype.
@Felipe Voloch: I think I agree with you that my question on the Datta paper and your answer are both somewhat regrettable. I have just unaccepted your answer. I believe you have to delete your answer (since it has been upvoted) before I can delete the question. I will do so if you do.
@Felipe: The question is now deleted.
"Ramping up the hype" was not my intension, but I drop my position as there is now a polymath like attempt to discuss the paper.
Now any suggestion about what to do with the question I have posted?
I would prefer to modify it to make it an independent question mainly about "how can an approach based on descriptive complexity avoid being a natural proof in the sense of Raborov-Rudich?" and "are there any previous results in descriptive complexity that avoid being Razborov-Rudich natural proofs barrier?" and remove the reference to Vinay's work from the title. I hope that this will save the question and remove the negative feeling and objections against it.