Posted by: Administrator | 06/02/2016

Professor Charles Leedham-Green

I address my remarks to the Chair, who is impartial, copied to the Publications
Secretary, who, like myself, is not.

Academia has become infected by metrics. No doubt these metrics have their uses,
and we all know their dangers.

I suspect that topology (the subject, not the journal) suffers from metrics. Topology
is a profound, difficult subject; and profound, difficult papers may attract fewer readers.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is more widely read than War and Peace.
Computational mathematics suffers from metrics, in that the use of our work by
computers is unrecorded.

Leonard Soicher and I published a paper in the JCM in its early years. I am rather
pleased with the paper. If the papers published by JCM were ordered by perceived merit
it might not come far below the median point. I don’t suppose it has helped the Journal’s
metrics. But whenever anyone calculates in an infinite nilpotent group, or in a p-group
with p > 7, they will probably use our algorithm. To repeat, a typical JCM paper.

But there is a more serious point.

Computation is increasingly the glue that binds mathematics together.

Take a topologist; or rather a CW complex. You can write down a presentation for its fundamental group. This is likely to be as informative to the naked eye as a National
Insurance Number; but show it to the machine, and it comes to life. Thus a very clever
algorithm killed off Dunwoody’s putative counter-examples to the Poincar´ e conjecture,
scoring 0 on metrics for obvious reasons.

Some serious work on absolute Galois groups is led by machine computation.

Topologists, number theorists, physicists, chemists can learn the group theory relevant
to their research by using computational packages. I could not have carried out my own
work on 2 F 4 without the support provided by Magma.

The Publications Secretary illuminates some of his work with splendid computer generated diagrams. Computer graphics are, in many cases, driven by topology, if modern
dynamics is a branch of topology.

We all use computation more than we think, and computation uses more original and
profound ideas than we realise.

Our motion instructs Council to change its decision. But what we want is not so much a change of decision as a change of mind; a change of heart. The decision to close the Journal was made in understandable ignorance of the esteem with which the Journal
is held by those best able to judge it.
Council should be very proud of the JCM, and do all in its power to foster and
encourage it, and not treat it like a dubious junior lecturer on probation.
I support the motion

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