A case calling for revocation of tenure in mathematics

Frank Calegari just wrote a blog post entitled “The ABC conjecture has (still) not been proved”. At the center of the spotlight is Mr. Shinichi Mochizuki 望月新一
who posted on arxiv a supposed proof of the conjecture about 5 years ago. Now 5 years have gone by and expert opinions officially converged that there is no proof (save a few referees for the journal RIMS). What’s really infuriating is that Shinichi did not spend the least effort explaining his proof in any detail, but left the public in a perpetual state of suspense, completely capitalizing on his former reputation as a somewhat productive mathematician and student of the great Gerd Faltings. This is in stark contrast to S.T. Yau’s approach of the Poincare conjecture, where the latter was all too eager to explain someone else’s proof. Math papers are already opaque enough to be accessible to general audience, to be impenetrable by experts for half a decade is simply a disservice to humanity. Perhaps what Shinichi did accomplish is raising awareness among the math and related community the importance of explaining their work in comprehensible details.

Update: to be clear, Frank’s post did not even suggest tenure revocation; and I am not seriously suggesting it either, given how much worse other academics have been compared to mathematians (post upcoming on a recent encounter). There have also been precedences of mathematicians whose works were discredited for a long time before accepted as correct, such as Heegner, and to a lesser extent De Branges (though people are far more certain about his recent claim to the Riemann).

About aquazorcarson

math PhD at Stanford, studying probability
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