Scientific Conference Falls for Gibberish Prank, from Reuters

A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

Stribling said conference organizers had not yet formally rescinded their invitation to present the paper.

I think they should absolutely be allowed to present the paper. I’ll lay odds that session would be the best-attended at the entire conference. I’d pay to see that presentation, myself.

Here’s the site for the app responsible.

SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.

The paper in question (Rooter) is also on that site. Inexplicably, one the 2 papers they submitted was rejected.

Update, 20 April: Even my mom thinks this is a hoot! She emailed me a link to this article from the Boston Globe. Though, given that these students were from MIT, I would have hoped that the Globe would have been a little quicker on the uptake.