Bogdanov Thesis Reports

From one of the comments here I see that the Bogdanovs have put the reports on their theses on the CERN document server. One should perhaps take these with a grain of salt given their source. For instance, I wouldn’t be surprised if some reports were missing.

I’ve always had some sympathy for the people who ended up on the Bogdanov’s thesis committees. It’s a difficult position to be in when you have to decide what to do with students who seem to be enthusiastic and have worked hard, but are very weak and have completed not very good theses. A not unreasonable thing to do under the circumstances is to do one’s best to find something of value in their work, and leave the job of keeping nonsense out of the literature to journal referees.

But the Bogdanov theses, especially Igor’s, were so full of egregious nonsense, in particular with respect to topological quantum field theory, that they should have been beyond the pale. While some of these reviewers were string theorists, others weren’t, so the whole mess can’t be blamed on string theory.

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7 Responses to Bogdanov Thesis Reports

  1. Bogdanoffez says:

    Well, dear Peter, you see that one of the consequences of your constant position to deny any value to our work gives reactions like : “It would be interesting to see if University of Bourgogne starts to get fed up with all the bad press coverage about the Bogdanovs, that it starts an investigation of their own into their PhD theses work and eventually revokes their PhD degrees.”

    It really goes beyond our mind to realize that it seems to be impossible de discuss what we did on “normal” basis. As it seems impossible to everyone to recognize, honestly, that we did serious work. What is going on in your mind? Do we criticize your work? do we say that you produced “nonsense” in all your articles? You perfectly know that we could say so very easily. So please respect our work and we will respect yours.

  2. Peter says:

    This is pretty different than an experimentalist faking data. If universities start investigating every theoretical physics thesis that doesn’t make sense, this could become a very large project….

  3. JC says:

    Just noticed these articles today about Jan Hendrik Schoen (the guy who was discovered to have pulled off a huge data falsification job at Bell Labs in 2002), being revoked of his PhD by University of Constance

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/tech/2004/jun/11/061107856.html

    and

    http://science.slashdot.org/science/04/06/11/2142223.shtml?tid=134&tid=146&tid=99

    It would be interesting to see if University of Bourgogne starts to get fed up with all the bad press coverage about the Bogdanovs, that it starts an investigation of their own into their PhD theses work and eventually revokes their PhD degrees.

  4. Peter says:

    While I’m not an expert on quantum groups, I know a lot about topological quantum field theories, and I am not relying on anyone else’s judgement but my own when I say that those parts of your theses involving TQFT are nonsense. Why this is true has been explained to you in several places by several people. The fact that you have managed to get some physicists to write reports saying something positive about what I know to be nonsense doesn’t give me any confidence that the positive reports about the quantum groups stuff are any better founded.

  5. Bogdanoff says:

    Good morning,

    We would like to react to Peter Woit comment on our thesis and reports.

    Woit wrote : “I wouldn’t be surprised if some reports were missing.”

    IGB : There are no reports missing. These are the “official reports” that everyone has the possibility to check with University of Bourgogne. This makes a total of 15 reports (which is quite unusual in itself since normally a thesis only requires 2 reports). This answers clearly the question : there is no “hidden report”.

    Woit wrote : “I’ve always had some sympathy for the people who ended up on the Bogdanov’s thesis committees. It’s a difficult position to be in when you have to decide what to do with students who seem to be enthusiastic and have worked hard, but are very weak and have completed not very good theses.

    IGB : How do you know that we have completed not very thesis? We are mathematicians, you are physicist. In a sympathetic letter, you wrote us that you do not know quantum groups theory ; “A large part of your work has to do with quantum groups and I’m not an expert in this field.”

    Question : why don’t you trust Majid when he says “Bogdanov’s ideas about signature fluctuations are to my mind about the more original and interesting that I have come across?”

    Why do you refuse to admit that we have build a bicrossproduct “of a type not seen before” (theorem 3.3.2) The basic theme is tomix algebraic structures associated to the Euclidean and the Lorentzian signatures intosingle algebraic constructions. Bogdanov identifies this as constructing certain cocycle Hopf algebras ot a type not seen before : ” These cocycle bicrossproduct results, in section3.3, from a body of original work which could certainly be the basis of a published researchpaper. ”

    We have spent many, many years working with Majid. He knows our ideas from A to Z. Do you think that he would have allowed the work to contain “some mistakes” or nonsensical parts?

    The answer is NO.

    Woit wrote : ” A not unreasonable thing to do under the circumstances is to do one’s best to find something of value in their work, ”

    IGB Yes. That would be a good thing to do.

    Woit wrote : But the Bogdanov theses, especially Igor’s, were so full of egregious nonsense, in particular with respect to topological quantum field theory, that they should have been beyond the pale.

    IGB : It is rather bizarre that you insist so much on the “nonsense” of our work. After all you wrote that you are not an expert in quantum groups. This theory is the mathematical basis of our signature fluctuations model. If you do not understand quantum groups, you do not understand our model. Nothing wrong about it. But then, stop saying “it’s nonsense”.

    Woit wrote : While some of these reviewers were string theorists, others weren’t, so the whole mess can’t be blamed on string theory.

    IGB : Do you seriously think that a scientist of the magnitude of Jackiw signed his report without filtering every idea, sentence, proposition, of the thesis? We worked extensively before he would agree with the quality of the work. Jackiw would never have approved “nonsensical” work just because he found us “enthousiastic” (by the way, we never met him before he wrote his report : all the work was based on reading the thesis and exchanging informations or arguments by mail).

    We can accept that you disagree, as a physicist, with our signature fluctuations model. But again we are mathematicians. And we developped our work on mathematical basis. Therefore the only thing that matters is : is our major theorem (a cocycle bicrossproduct of new type) valid or not?

    The answer given by experts is YES, without any doubt.

    If you disagree with this yoy know will have to prove it.

    Thank you for your attention,

    Igor Boganoff Grichka Bogdanoff

  6. Thomas Larsson says:

    I have always felt that the American system, where you kick out weak students after two years if they don┤t pass their qualifying exams, is better for everybody than the European system, where the only real checkpoint is the dissertation, and people can linger forever. It is not really fair to let people work for a decade and then deny them a Ph. D.

    I am not sure how consistently the American system is implemented in the US, however. It is probably not so easy to keep people out if they don’t require funding.

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