Scientists devise means to test for phony technical papers

Apr 24, 2006

Authors of bogus technical articles beware. A team of researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics has designed a tool that distinguishes between real and fake papers. It's called the Inauthentic Paper Detector -- one of the first of its kind anywhere -- and it uses compression to determine whether technical texts are generated by man or machine.

"This is a potential problem since no existing systems, the Web for example, can or do discriminate between content that is meaningful or bogus," says assistant professor Mehmet Dalkilic, a data mining expert. "We believe that there are subtle, short- and long-range word or even word string repetitions that exist in human texts, but not in many classes of computer-generated texts that can be used to discriminate based on meaning."

Joining Dalkilic on the IPD project are Assistant Professor Predrag Radivojac, informatics doctoral student James Costello, and Wyatt T. Clark, who will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in informatics.

The IPD system is based on a combination of compression algorithms that reduce the amount of data to save space and speed transmission time.

To begin their study, the team identified two kinds of texts they would analyze. "Authentic text" (or document) is a collection of several hundreds or thousands of syntactically correct sentences that are wholly meaningful. "Inauthentic text" (or document) is a collection of several hundreds of thousands of syntactically correct sentences that, taken all together, have no meaning.

The researchers' work is documented in the very authentic paper, "Using Compression to Identify Classes of Inauthentic Texts," which they presented at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Conference on Data Mining in Bethesda, Md., this weekend.

The informatics study largely was inspired by a prank pulled by three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students, who in 2004 developed a computer program that churned out randomly generated fake computer science language, essentially a four-page compilation of gibberish. They submitted it as a research paper to an international conference on computer science and informatics – and it was accepted without review.

Radivojac, whose research expertise is machine learning, says the IPD easily detected numerous inauthentic technical papers tested, including the MIT students' spurious submission.

"We hypothesized we could build a reliable and fast model that recognizes fake papers automatically," says Radivojac. "We combined these with machine-learning methods to build a predictor of these kinds of papers."

In general, identifying meaning in a technical document is difficult, Dalkilic says. "We don't claim we have found a way to distinguish between meaning and nonsense, but we do emphasize that there are many nontrivial classes of inauthentic documents that can be easily distinguished based on compression algorithms."

Source: Indiana University School of Informatics

Explore further: Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

2 hours ago

The robotic revolution that transformed warfare in the skies will soon extend to the deep sea, with underwater spy "satellites," drone-launching pods on the ocean floor and unmanned ships hunting submarines.

Festo has BionicANTs communicating by the rules for tasks

13 hours ago

Germany-based automation company Festo, focused on technologies for tasks, turns to nature for inspiration, trying to take the cues from how nature performs tasks so efficiently. "Whether it's energy efficiency, ...

Intel in talks with Altera on tie-up

13 hours ago

US tech giant Intel is in talks with rival Altera on a tie-up to broaden the chipmaker's product line amid growth in Internet-connected devices, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.