[seqfan] Re: A139414

Jonathan Post jvospost3 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 23:06:30 CET 2009

Re: numerologists and pseudoscientists.

There's an interesting comment by Chris Phoenix, a software
professional and ex-teacher, as to the ecological/evolutionary value
(on the plane of ideas) of crackpots.  This was in reply to a
classification of geniuses by Professor David Bacon.


I suspect that this can be true, now and then, in Mathematics. Even if
99% of self-deluded tripe on squaring circles and disproving Cantor's
Diagonalization proof (as recently on an arXiv paper), or grotesquely
misinterpreting Godel, there is still some 1% which, however
improperly demonstrated and packaged, observe something interesting
which more professional mathematicians may turn into acceptable
results. I don't know, psychiatrically, why so many sad people are
obsessed with disproving Archimedes, Bernoulli, Cantor, Darwin,
Einstein, Fermat, Godel, Hilbert, or others, as if they must slay some
Oedipal farther-figure of authority.  But I am not a psychiatrist, nor
is njas.

In that context, even if there is a flood of sequences which are akin
to Sequence Spam in my opinion; in the opinion of others I may have
been just as prolifically guilty; hence I conclude that the notion of
"encyclopedia" is indeed the key one.

Even in the infinite and random Library of Jorge Luis Borges, . "La
Biblioteca de Babel" (1941), in Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza, 1971;
English translation, "The Library of Babel", every true book is to be
found, however diluted by every typographically mutated or meaningless

That is a story that encompasses a world. The world that is a library,
a library that is a universe broken into endless hexagons connected by
stairs and hallways. It's unlike any library that has ever existed, a
library of the mind, a virtual library.

I consider OEIS simultaneously the greatest index to "real math" on
the Web, a priceless tool for identifying sequences and variants of
sequences. a unique way to tap into the hard-copy libraries of
mathematics and the online preprints, and a library of the mind.

I was in favor of segregating sequences to deprecate "less" and
"probation", but I can see the "First Amendment absolutist" argument
for letting many correctly spelled correctly formatted sequences in as
free expression, even if I cannot fathom what they are trying to
express, or why, nor waste my time reading them, any more than I don't
stoop to pick up every scrap of paper blowing along the sidewalk.

I further thank njas and his outstanding Associate Editors for their
patiently grooming me from a ragged and irritating "usual suspect"
into a sometimes useful collaborator.  As a teacher, I like to think
that I never give up on any student who is willing to meet me halfway.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


prof. Jonathan Vos Post

On Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 1:26 PM, Benoît Jubin <benoit.jubin at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear all,
> After having used the OEIS and its webcam for a while, I think there
> are hundreds, even thousands, of totally uninteresting sequences in
> the OEIS.  I first thought they were a stain on the OEIS, making
> exterior people think it was a place crowded with numerologists and
> pseudo-scientists.  And this puzzled me since I appreciate much this
> wonderful tool and the work of all its editors and contributors.
> Nevertheless, I think that these sequences should remain, because of
> the 'E' of OEIS, that is, the will to be encyclopedic, or universal,
> even towards the less interesting.  Also, we never know if a sequence
> won't turn out to be of particular interest in the future (the history
> of mathematics is filled with such examples).
> This was my humble opinion, somewhere between the clumsy and the
> obvious.  Also, I'm aware that sometimes, considering a sequence
> uninteresting only reveals my ignorance.
> Regards,
> Benoit Jubin
> On Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 8:04 AM, N. J. A. Sloane <njas at research.att.com> wrote:
>> Joerg,
>> I already deleted A139414 and A155814 once,
>> but three people objected (Bagula, Smith, Seidov), so I
>> reinstated them.  That was sufficient reason, I felt.
>> Neil
>> _______________________________________________
>> Seqfan Mailing list - http://list.seqfan.eu/
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