(Another post in the “back to school” theme.)
I was reading the June 2006 issue of Nature a few weeks ago back in Kentucky, and happened across a good article by Mark Buchanan. He discussed a recent paper in which scientists decided to rank papers not just by the raw number of citations, but by using a PageRank-like algorithm. One important paper by John Slater jumped from 1,853rd to 10th place:
The Slater determinant slipped into common usage and into a number of other papers that went on to become classics. Today, this paper gets few direct references, but scores points indirectly in Google terms as others papers that cited it long ago continue to accrue new citations.
I don’t see Buchanan’s article online, but a physics student did his own summary. I like the notion that Google sprang from academia, and that things like Google Scholar can make life a little easier for students in return. Besides, you know, free hosting and bug tracking for open-source projects, Summer of Code, Anita Borg scholarships, our free pizza for late-night hacking ambassadors, the free sitesearch and websearch that we offer to universities and non-profits, and stuff like that. Jeez, that’s a lot of stuff. And I forgot about the page for college students that collects our free services. The n-gram data we’re making available to researchers about phrases on the web. The 2006 Code Jam programming contest. Okay, I’m stopping because my head hurts. But it’s clearly a good time to be a student.