Hardy-Littlewood Collaboration

One of the most successful collaborations in the history of science has been between two great mathematicians Hardy and Littlewood. They had set the following rules 

  • Axiom 1: It didn’t matter whether what they wrote to each other was right or wrong.
  • Axiom 2: There was no obligation to reply, or even to read, any letter one sent to the other.
  • Axiom 3: They should not try to think about the same things.
  • Axiom 4: To avoid any quarrels, all papers would be under joint name, regardless of whether one of them had contributed nothing to the work.

Here is what I can say about collaborations: It is almost always beneficial even if one has disproportionately contributed. On the other hand, it can become frustrating when one of the collaborators does not do things in a timely manner.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sriram on October 8, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    The frustration that you mention above may be violating the union of axiom 2 and axiom 4.


  2. The thing is most people including myself haven’t set such rules with their co-authors. There is also nothing in these axioms about time frame probably because it has been irrelevant to them but if I want to add a 5th axiom I would write “DO YOUR PART IN A TIMELY MANNER”. I have been hurt by not respecting this, perhaps one day I write about it but let’s leave it for now.


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