Friday, December 3, 2010

"Medical researcher discovers integration, gets 75 citations"

I saw an interesting post by An American Physics Student in England linked on In The Dark that I wanted to share.  Go to the above link to read the full post:
OBJECTIVE–To develop a mathematical model for the determination of total areas under curves... In Tai’s Model, the total area under a curve is computed by dividing the area under the curve between two designated values on the X-axis (abscissas) into small segments (rectangles and triangles) whose areas can be accurately calculated from their respective geometrical formulas.
Hint! ... you’ll note that Dr. Tai rediscovered the rectangle method of approximating an integral. (Actually, Dr. Tai rediscovered the trapezoidal rule.) To top it all off, Dr. Tai decided to name this “Tai’s Model” and the medical community cited this paper 75 times.
The author also reminds us how the premeds are the ones who always get the A+s in physics classes for some reason. :)


  1. That is too funny. Does anyone know how to get the actual text of the article? Those citing this paper really do seem to be crediting Dr. Tai with the discovery of a numerical integration technique available in any calculus textbook.

  2. Almost makes me want to write a paper hoping to get 75+ citations named: "On Constructing a simple way to find the slope of a smooth curve."

  3. Joe, that's brilliant. I think I'm going to start calling numerical differentiation "Smidt's Method".

  4. That is funny! Medical science FAIL!

  5. JS,

    This is an irony. Our advanced civilization fails to teach basic math skills in all other sciences except sci/eng and quantitative finance. Most doctors don't do math, if they did, they would have never given up control of their profession to insurance companies.

    You could look into statistics application in social and political sciences. It is equally bad. I had misforutne to listen to some of the hearings on DADT. I only cite that as an example, not a new discussion topic. You can listen at C-SPAN.

  6. For some reason, the paper is abstract is also unavailable to me, but I was able to find some papers that cited it.
    Some examples:
    "The integrated area under the curve (AUC) analysis for glucose and insulin was determined according to the formula of Tai et al."

    "For each patient the area under curve (AUC) and the AUCglucose to AUCinsulin ratio were calculated (Tai)"

    I am also surprised that these so-called"scientists" could not figure out how to find the area under curves by themselves, without having to find a paper to have found a formula for them!

  7. I wonder if he cited Newton, and if he didn't he should have, but then again if he had known enough to cite Newton then he probably would not have written this paper. And this is why we force the pre-meds to take physics.

    Also to be fair the the medical research community there apparently were four direct responses to this article that clearly stated that he had re-invented the wheel, I mean, integration. Still his paper is still being cited as an authority on the method in the medical research community and I guess that says something (not good).

  8. Did April Fool's Day come really late this year, or are you early for next year?

  9. About ten years ago, I read a beautiful paper on thermodynamics of neural processes. It was authored by psychologists and neurologists. I wish I had kept a copy of it. In any case, let us not deride the research of medical profession; though, this particular incident is disturbing. They need peer review.


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