Number theorist Atle Selberg died in Princeton on Monday, at age 90. One of his major results was the “Selberg formula” that led to an elementary proof of the prime number theorem, a Fields medal in 1950, and a famous controversy with Paul Erdos.

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Prof. Dorian Goldfeld of Columbia U. has a mathematical description of the Erdos-Selberg issue.

aravind srinivasan

If we take Goldfeld’s correspondence at face value, I would have been in favor of joint publication, whether I place myself in the shoes of Erdos or Selberg. Then again the standards of joint authorship are different in CS than in math.

My preference is for the CS standard as it fosters collaborations and limits petty arguments such as Erdos-Selberg.

My preference is for the CS standard as it fosters collaborations and limits petty arguments such as Erdos-Selberg.Well if he got a fields medal for it maybe it wasn’t so petty after all.

By today’s standards, in Math also, it should have been a collaboration. This happened almost 60 years ago and perhaps things were not so clear cut back then. Plus, as the previous poster stated, the result was a big deal at the time.