Noncommutative Analysis

Category: Publishing

Something sweet for the new year

Tim Gowers recently announced the start of a new journal, “Discrete Analysis”. The sweet thing about this journal is that it is an arxiv overlay journal, meaning that the journal will act like most other elctronic journals with the difference that all it does in the end (after standard peer review and editorial decisions) is put up a link on its website to a certain version of the preprint on the arxiv. The costs are so low, that neither readers nor authors are supposed to pay. In the beginning, Cambridge University will cover the costs of this particular journal, and there are hopes that funding will be found later (of course, arxiv has to be funded as well, but this does not seem to incur additional costs on arxiv). The journal uses a platform called Scholastica (which does charge something, but relatively low – like $10 per paper) so they did not have to set up their webpage and deal with that kind of stuff.

The idea has been around for several years and there are several other platforms (some of which do not charge anything since they are publicly funded) for carrying journals like this: Episciences, Open Journals. It seems like analysis, and operator theory in particular, are a little behind in these initiatives (correct me if I am wrong). But I am not worried, this is a matter of time.

The news of the baby journal made me especially happy since leaders like Gowers and Tao have been previously involved with the creation of the bad-idea-author-pay-journals Forum of Mathematics (Pi and Sigma), and it is great that their stature is also harnessed for a decent journal (which also happens to have a a nice and reasonable name).

A corrigendum

Matt Kennedy and I have recently written a corrigendum to our paper “Essential normality, essential norms and hyperrigidity“. Here is a link to the corrigendum. Below I briefly explain the gap that this corrigendum fills.

A corrigendum is correction to an already published paper. It is clear why such a mechanism exists: we want the papers we read to represent true facts, so false claims, as well as invalid proofs or subtle gaps should be pointed out to the community. Now, many many papers (I don’t want to say “most”) have some kind of mistake in them, but not every mistake deserves a corrigendum – for example there are mistakes that the reader will easily spot and fix, or some where the reader may not spot the mistake, but the fix is simple enough.

There are no rules as to what kind of errors require a corrigendum. This depends, among other things, on the authors. Some mistakes are corrected by other papers. I believe that very quickly some sort of mechanism – say google scholar, or mathscinet – will be able to tell if the paper you are looking up is referenced by another paper pointing out a gap, so such a correction-in-another-paper may sometimes serve as legitimate replacement for a corrigendum, when the issue is a gap or minor mistake.

There is also a question of why publish a corrigendum at all, instead of updating the version of the paper on the arxiv (and this is exactly what the moderators of the arxiv told us at first when we tried to upload our corrigendum there. In the end we convinced them that the corrigendum can stand by itself). I think that once a paper is published, it could be confusing to have a version more advanced than the published version; it becomes very clumsy to cite papers like that.

The paper I am writing about (see this post to see what its about) had a very annoying gap: we justified a certain step by citing a particular proposition from a monograph. The annoying part is that the proposition we cite does not exactly deal with the situation we deal with in the paper, but our idea was that the same proof works in our situation. We did not want to spell out the details because we considered that to be very easy, and in any case it was not a new argument. Unfortunately, the same proof does work when working with homogeneous ideals (which was what first versions of the paper treated) but in fact it is not clear if they work for non-homogeneous ideals. The reason why this gap is so annoying, is that it leads the reader to waste time in a wild goose chase: first the reader goes and finds the monograph we cite, looks up the result (has to read also a few extra pages to see he understands the setting and notation in the monograph), realises this is is not the same situation, then tries to adapt the method but fails. A waste of time!

Another problem that we had in our paper is that one requires our ideals to be “sufficiently non-trivial”. If this were the only problem we would perhaps not bother writing a corrigendum just to introduce a non-triviality assumption, since any serious reader will see that we require this.

If I try to take a lesson from this, besides a general “be careful”, it is that it is dangerous to change the scope of the paper (for us – moving form homogeneous to non-homogeous ideals) in late stages of the preparation of the paper. Indeed we checked that all the arguments work for the non-homogneous case, but we missed the fact that an omitted argument did not work.

Our new corrigendum is detailed and explains the mathematical problem and its solutions well, anyone seriously interested in our paper should look at it. The bottom line is this as follows.

Our paper has two main results regarding quotients of the Drury-Arveson module by a polynomial ideal. The first is that the essential norm in the non selfadjoint algebra associated to a the quotient module, as well as the C*-envelope, are as the Arveson conjecture predicts (Section 3 in the paper) . The second is that essential normality is equivalent to hyperrigidity (Section 4 in the paper).

Under the assumption that all our ideals are sufficiently non-trivial (and some other standing assumptions stated in the paper), the situation is as follows.

The first result holds true as stated.

For the second result, we have that hyperrigidity implies essential normality (as we stated), but the implication “essential normality implies hyperrigidity” is obtained for homogeneous ideals only.

 

Interesting figure

I found an interesting figure in the March 2014 issue of the EMS newsletter, from the article by H. Mihaljevic´ -Brandt and O. Teschke, Journal Profiles and Beyond: What Makes a Mathematics Journal “General”?

See the right column on page 56 in this link. (God help me, I have no idea how to embed that figure in the post. Anyway, maybe it is illegal, so I don’t bother learning.) One can see the “subject bias” of Acta, Annals and Inventiones.

On the left column, there is a graph showing the percentage of papers devoted to different MSC subjects in what the authors call “generalist” math journals (note carefully that these journals are only a small subclass of all journals, chosen by a method that is loosely described in the article). On the right column there is the interesting figure, showing the subject bias. If I understand correctly, the Y-axis is the MSC number and the X-axis represents the corresponding deviation from the average percentage given in the left figure. So, for example, Operator Theory (MSC 47) is the subject of about 5 percent of the papers in a generalist journal, but in the Annals there is a deviation of minus 4 from the average, so if I understand this figure correctly, that means that about 1 percent of papers in the Annals are classified under MSC 47. Another example: Algebraic Geometry (MSC 14), takes up a significant portion of Inventiones papers, much more than it does in an average “generalist” journal.

(I am not making any claims, this could mean a lot of things and it could mean nothing. But it is definitely interesting to note.)

Another interesting point is that the authors say that of the above three super-journals, Acta “is closest to the average distribution, though it is sometimes considered as a journal with a focus on analysis”. That’s interesting in several ways.

 

Some links and announcements

  • The course “Advanced Analysis” is over. The lecture notes (the part that I prepared) are available here. Comments are very welcome. I hope to teach this course again in the not too far future and complete the lecture notes (add notes on Banach and C*-algebras, spectral theory and Fredholm theory). The homework exercises are available here, at the bottom of the page (the webpage is in Hebrew but the exercises are in English). 
  • In April Ken Davidson will be visiting our department at BGU. On this occasion we will hold a short conference, dates: April 9-10. Here is the conference page. Contact me for more details.
  • There are some interesting discussions going on in Gowers’s Weblog (see “Why I’ve joined the bad guys” and “Why I’ve joined the good guys” and some of the comments), regarding journals, publishing, new ideas, APCs, and so forth. The big news is that Gowers (after he kind of admits that being an editor of Forum of Mathematics makes him one of the bad guys) is now connected to another publishing adventure, that of epijournals, or arxiv overlay journals, which makes him one of the good guys (Just to set things straight: I think Gowers is a good guy). BTW: Gowers makes it clear that the credit for this initiative does not belong to him but to others, see his post.
  • I promised myself to stop writing about this topic, but I guess I am still allowed to put a link to something that I wrote about this in the past. So here is a link to a letter (also other letters) I sent to Letters to the Editor of the Notices. It is a response to this article by Rob Kirby.

Worse than Elsevier, worse than …

I recently received the following email from Cambridge University Press:

Submit your article online now

Dear Dr Shalit
We are delighted to announce that the online submission systems forForum of Mathematics, Pi and Forum of Mathematics, Sigma are now live. Forum of Mathematics offers fully open access publication combined with peer-review standards set by an international editorial board of the highestcalibre, and all backed by Cambridge University Press and our commitment to quality.
Don’t forget:
  • For the first three years Cambridge University Press will waive the publication charges
  • After this, a publication charge for authors will be set at £500/$750, this charge being based on real publishing costs and overheads
etc., …,

Authors benefit from:• Peer-review by experts

• Free, permanent, worldwide access to your article
• High editorial and production service
• The author will hold the copyright of published papers via a Creative Commons license
• State-of-the-art online hosting, including forward reference linking and extensive content alerts
• Free online colour
• Global dissemination of your paper
Kind regards,
*************
Cambridge Journals

To which I replied:

Dear ************,

I will not submit a journal to FOM because I strongly object to author processing charges, and your journal endorses this practice.

Kind regards,
Orr Shalit

I blogged on this subject before. I just want to add here that in my opinion, the fact that FOM does no collect money from authors for the first three years does not make it better than other predatory journals, it makes it worse. Cambridge University Press uses its prestige to endorse the practice of author charges, and it uses its money to make it look sustainable, to get us used to the idea.

I really hope that mathematicians will not flock behind the leaders of this initiative. The overall impression I get is that my hopes are hopeless. So here is one last cry: you are going in the wrong direction! Even if dpearments change so much that everybody gets a fair budget for publishing (which I find hard to believe), do we really need another item in our academic lives where we have to fill in a form to get $750 for a simple academic activity? And how can one possibly consider submitting a paper to FOM when one can submit to some other journal for free and save one’s department $750?

 Here is an example of how to do it right.