I just came across a wonderful link again. This is a page of rejection letters of famous papers. It includes papers by Turing, Shannon, and Dijkstra. I will quote the Turing letter for those that don't want to click through:

""On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungs Problem." This is a bizarre paper. It begins by defining a computing device absolutely unlike anything I have seen, then proceeds to show—I haven't quite followed the needlessly complicated formalism—that there are numbers that it can't compute. As I see it, there are two alternatives that apply to any machine that will ever be built: Either these numbers are too big to be represented in the machine, in which case the conclusion is obvious, or they are not; in that case, a machine that can't compute them is simply broken!

Any tabulating machine worth its rent can compute all the values in the range it represents, and any number computable by a function—that is, by applying the four operations a number of times—can be computed by any modern tabulating machine since these machines—unlike the one proposed here with its bizarre mechanism——have the four operations hardwired. It seems that the "improvement" proposed by Turing is not an improvement over current technology at all, and I strongly suspect the machine is too simple to be of any use.

If the article is accepted, Turing should remember that the language of this journal is English and change the title accordingly."

I love the last line. Turing should remember that the journal is in English, so he shouldn't call the Entscheidungsproblem by its German name. I wonder how amusing this will be when I start sending things to journals...

## Tuesday, October 16, 2007

### We are sorry to inform you...

Posted by Shawn at 8:08 PM

Subscribe to:
Post Comments (Atom)

## 2 comments:

It should probably be pointed out that these rejection letters aren't real. At least, I'm pretty sure they aren't...

I'm pretty sure they are real. I've seen independent confirmation of the Dijsktra letter. I feel like I've seen the Turing rejection letter mentioned elsewhere, maybe in the Essential Turing volume. I'll have to try to dig that up.

Post a Comment