[r-t] another ringing maths paper

Alexander Holroyd holroyd at math.ubc.ca
Sun Jul 3 02:35:52 UTC 2016

On Sat, 2 Jul 2016, Giles Blundell wrote:

> > I should point out that there is nothing here that would be regarded as
> > hugely novel to the ringing theory community.  Many people on this list
> > could probably have solved this problem if they tried.  (snip again)
> If I've understood Ander right, he's saying that the referenced paper is
> saying that some mathematician has worked out from scratch something that
> ringers have known (and have proved) for years.

That would be not at all understood right.  If you read what I wrote, 
you'll see that I said nothing of the sort!

I highlighted the paper here because the underlying mathematical problem 
can be viewed as ringing theory related.  Moreover, the techniques used to 
solve it will be familiar to many ringing theoreticians.  I have no idea 
where the belief that the result was "worked out from scratch" or 
"something ringers have known (and have proved) for years" came from.

> This is not the first time this has happened. I am neither a mathematician
> nor an academic, but doesn't this mean that there is a piece of work to be
> done to identify original mathematical thought which ringers have already
> done, and make it available to current mathematicians? That way, ringers as
> a whole could claim the credit which was rightly theirs - and, more
> importantly, working mathematicians could get on with new work rather than
> re-inventing the wheel - or move straight to the practical application of
> the wheels that ringers have already invented.

As a mathematician and a ringing theoretician, I have to say that the 
implied criticisms here ring hollow.  What makes you think that this 
"piece of work" is not already being done?  And why should "ringers as a 
whole" have a right to credit for contributions of individual 
theoreticians?  This paper I hope clearly cites such contributions as well 
the ringing origins of the relevant ideas.

There is always a potential issue of "reinventing the wheel" in academic 
discourse.  The antidote generally involves: clear recording of ideas 
worth remembering, thorough literature searches, and candid 
acknowledgement of prior relevant work.  Positive contributions in any of 
these directions should be welcomed (and this paper attempts to contribute 
in all three).

cheers, Ander

More information about the ringing-theory mailing list