[FOM] Who released Deolalikar's proof into the wild?

Vaughan Pratt pratt at cs.stanford.edu
Mon Aug 16 01:17:41 EDT 2010

Papers are intrinsically different from emails in that they are almost 
invariably written for as broad an audience as possible consistent with 
the subject matter.

On that basis my understanding for the past forty years has been that 
the default for manuscripts was that unless "DRAFT: Not for further 
circulation" was written on the front of the manuscript, or there was a 
cover note to that effect, or you were part of the review process for a 
journal or conference submission, you were free to circulate it further. 
  Over the years I have received hundreds of papers circulated by their 
author(s) with no such restriction, and I had assumed in those cases 
that the sender had no objection to wider distribution, and indeed would 
welcome it.

Email sent to private parties (as opposed to mailing lists) has evolved 
the opposite convention---you should ask before forwarding an 
email---because senders rarely think to take the precaution of wording 
their email for a broader audience, with the result that they would in 
many cases be embarrassed by wider circulation.  (But it's a great 
precaution nonetheless.)

Given these considerations, and given that it only takes one recipient 
to let the cat out of the bag, trusting to the email convention to hold 
the fort for a circulated paper seems like asking for trouble---or at 
least dissemination.

Vaughan Pratt

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