Opinion 13: It is Time to Correct Gloria Olive's Erroneous Math Review of Shalosh B. Ekhad's Beautiful Proof of Dixon's Identity'

By: Doron Zeilberger

Written: Jan. 12, 1997

Unlike my other opinions, the present one concerns a personal matter, involving my beloved servant, Shalosh B. Ekhad, and how it was wronged by Math Reviews and its electronic analog, MathSci. It is a plea for correcting this five-year-old crime. In addition to being posted here, it is being sent to John Ewing, Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society, and I hope that very shortly I will be able to report that my suggested remedy has been implemented.

About five years ago, Volker Strehl pointed my attention, and that of Math Reviews, to Gloria Olive's completely erroneous Math Review MR 91b#05021 . It asserted that Ekhad's beautiful proof `lacked validity'. Even though this grave error was reported in the errata section of that year in the paper version of MR (amongst minor errors and misprints that I am sure nobody reads), the correction never made it to MathSci.

I was shocked, when I searched MathSci for Ekhad's papers, that this erroneous review is still posted, thereby misleading the mathematical community and slandering Shalosh. Thus an innocent user who searches for proofs of Dixon's identity, or for all the papers of Ekhad, would be grossly misinformed.

The beauty of computers, as opposed to print, is that it is easy to correct errors. It would be a trivial matter to replace Olive's false review with a new one, stating that it replaces an earlier erroneous one.

Another beauty of the computer age is that I can make Shalosh's grievance and MathSci's error viewable to the Whole Wide World. Even if they would refuse to correct their error, the present webpage is already correcting it, and at the same time warning the reader to be skeptical of everything they read, EVEN MATH REVIEWS! While I am sure that there are relatively few such blatant errors, there must be many misjudgements and wrong opinions expressed.

Added Jan. 16, 1997: Here is John Ewing's Almost Satisfactory Reply.

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