Posted by: maroonmaurader | December 6, 2010

Tai’s Model

A truly bizarre turn of events. A medical researcher independently re-discovers the trapezoidal rule (the foundation for all integration, generally taught either in pre-calculus or at the start of 2nd-semester high school calculus… or both). He names it after himself, writes a paper, gets it peer-reviewed and published, and gets 75 citations. In his abstract, he notes that his method is more precise than other widely-used methods… as the linked article notes, you have to wonder what methods those are!

My first thought was that the paper must be about some unusual variant which merited individual discussion, but browsing through the comments posted in reply (and following links from there) leads me to believe that it’s actually exactly what it looks like. Of course, final judgement would have to be reserved for those who have actually read the full paper, instead of just the abstract… about which I note that a reply was entitled simply “Tai’s Model is the Trapezoidal Rule.”

I’ll bet Tai has a really nice stamp collection though.

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Responses

  1. Chris, Kitty and I had a good laugh about this. George brought it to our attention. It’s pretty absurd that such a thing passed peer review…

  2. Unfortunately, I have been able to read the original article because my library is missing the volume of the journal; however, I have read the letters to the editor in response to the article, which are hilarious. Here are a few snippets.

    Commenter 1: “Tai describes a method to determine total area under metabolic curves. However, what is exaggeratedly called ‘Tai’s mathematical model’ is nothing but a simple geometrical formula, well known for many teas as the trapezoidal rule. . . . [Her] validation of the formula by means of comparison with a ‘true value’ [by placing the curve over a piece of graph paper and counting up the little squares] is useless and contains several fallacies.”

    Commenter 2: “[Tai] uses the trapezoid rule, a basic geometrical concept, which is that the area of a trapezoid is the mean of the length of the two parallel sides times the width. This method has been used . . . for many yeas, and, in my opinion, does not need a new name.”

    Commenter3: “We were disturbed to read the article by M. M. Tai . . . The author seems to claim ‘Tai’s formula’ as a new method of computing area under a curve. The formula given is simply the trapezoidal rule, published in many beginning calculus texts . . . Although we do not have a first reference, it is our understanding that the trapezoidal rule was known to Isaac Newton in the 17th century.”

  3. The evidence suggests that stamp collecting enables one to discover calculus (see: Newton, Tai), so another victory for the real scientists. Why stand on the shoulders of giants when you can be one yourself?


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