Opinion 175: The Current Editors and Referees of the American Mathematical Monthly Should Realize that Sometimes More is Less (and Less is More)

By Doron Zeilberger

Written: Jan. 29, 2020

Two months ago, Shalosh B. Ekhad, Wadim Zudilin, and I submitted this (1+ε)-page gem to the American Mathematical Monthly. One referee (a good guy!) loved it (see his or her insightful report), and recommended acceptance with only minor changes, but the other referee "liked the theorem very much", but claimed that "the paper is not publishable as it now stands", here is the obnoxious and sarcastic report, suggesting we make the paper much longer, thereby ruining it completely, turning it into yet-another-long-winded-article. The whole point was the brevity. Readers who want to see background can go to the references that we supplied (the Alladi-Robinson and the Almkvist-Zeilberger papers). This referee apparently has no sense of humor.
(BTW "we cleverly construct" is a literary allusion to a classic 1979 paper by Alf van der Poorten, and the identity is really buried in Bailey's book, and "who did what" is important, since one of the authors is a computer.)

By his long-winded obnoxious report, it is clear that he does not like brevity. But the editors should have ignored his stupid advice.

It is a a good thing that the current editors were not editors in the 1980-s, or else this short gem (coauthored with Dave Bressoud), and this even shorter gem would never have been published. Way back then there was no arxiv, so they would have been lost for ever.

But all is well that ends well. Sergei Tabachnikov, member of the ed. bd. of Mathematical Intelligencer, is going to recommend to the EIC to accept our little paper to his column "Gems and Curiosities". Looking at the other gems in that column (some by Sergei himself), it is a much better fit than the Notes section of the American Mathematical Monthly.

Doron Zeilberger's Opinion's Table of Content

Doron Zeilberger's Homepage