Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cross Product Research

I remember Hal's talk about "combinatorial innovation", that is, once you have certain basic ingredients for innovation, people find ways to combine them and generate an explosion of ideas and products in a very short time. That is the good part. I want to talk about an annoyance that is similar in spirit that I often confront.

I refer to Cross Product Research, that is, research that is the result of mixing ingredients. The formula is (recent hot topic) X (known problem formulations) X (favorite math tools and methods) X (some data, experiments, and good writing) \rightarrow (Paper Submission). I may have left out certain adjectives and some dimensions may be superfluous, but this formula begets longer titles, more papers and destroys trees.


Anonymous Meena Mani said...

...but this formula begets longer titles, more papers, creates bits and destroys trees.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Hugh said...

My PRNG generates bits with higher entropy than your cross-product papers.
(possible bumper sticker?)

11:40 AM  
Blogger hal said...

I think john langford.refers to this as combinatorial research :). An yes, I agree... Why? Because I don't learn anything from such papers. (full disclosure: I have written one such paper :(.)

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, that's funny... and how many of yours are of this form

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To hal and Anom: Mea Culpa many, many times, of course, both in doing Cross Product Research and in destroying trees.

My focus however is on the concept of Cross Product Research (CPR). I am not convinced I have a good definition or characterization for it. What forms of CPR are defensible, or blatant? Is all research some form of CPR? Going beyond research, isn't human language a CP? Do we ever say or do anything new?

-- Metoo

ps: Meena: Like the bit about bits.

3:37 AM  
Blogger AC said...

If you remove the "recent hot topic" thing and change "experiments" to "asymptotics", then I can say that I've performed some CPR myself.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AC: All of us have CPRed, even multiple times.

The analogy in my mind is a sliced backhand shot in tennis. You are lazy to get to the ball, and the ball is really there, slow and teasing. What do you do, you slice it. You know you can't win big matches with a sliced backhand alone, and some opponent is going to go to your backhand all the time, and eventually you will have to hit it hard or even topspin, but you think you can get away with it this one time. You think, it is not a bad shot, really. :)

-- Metoo

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steffi Graf won a few matches with a not too bad backhand;)

1:29 PM  
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