Dear Professor Zeilberger, you write: "When your next paper gets accepted by a `prestigious' journal, you have a right to be happy, since it is most likely a correct and solid piece of work. But if it gets rejected, because it is `not interesting or important enough', you should be even happier, since the probability that it is really a seminal paper is much higher than if it would have been accepted. Most editors and referees prefer the same-old currently mainstream stuff, and usually don't have the vision and foresight to appreciate truly novel work." We all agree that, conditioned on being seminal, a paper is more likely to be rejected than accepted by a prestigious journal, but that's different from saying, as above, that a paper is more likely to be seminal conditioned on being rejected than conditioned on being accepted. Suppose a 1/1,000 fraction of papers submitted to prestigious journals are seminal, and that presitigious journals accept a 1/20 fraction of overall submissions, and only a 1/5 fraction of seminal papers. Then Pr[ accepted | seminal] = .2 Pr[ rejected | seminal] = .8 but Pr[ seminal | accepted] = 1/250 Pr[ seminal | rejected] = 2/2,375 (assuming I did my long divisions right) Of course you would be right if prestigious journals had a higher rejection rate for seminal papers than for random papers. But making such an assumption would be too unfair to editors of prestigious journals. All the best Luca Trevisan

Back to Opinion 61 of Doron Zeilberger