Rediscovering the obvious05 Feb 2006
I was just discussing with someone today the merits of taking an old idea and giving it a new name, and now I find out from the NY Times just what a good strategy it can be:
It may seem odd that scientists in the Internet age spend years on a line of research, even bet their careers on it, without having first determined that their mountain had not already been climbed. But Dr. Stigler said that scientists often are ignorant of the work being done by others in their field, and searches of scientific literature can be hard to conduct. Web search engines, for example, look for words, not ideas, and Dr. Vohra said he discovered that every researcher who had made his discovery had given it a different name and description.
In 1957, for example, a statistician named James Hanna called his theorem Bayesian Regret. He had been preceded by David Blackwell, also a statistician, who called his theorem Controlled Random Walks. Other, later papers had titles like "On Pseudo Games," "How to Play an Unknown Game," "Universal Coding" and "Universal Portfolios," Dr. Vohra said, adding, "It's not obvious how you do a literature search for this result."
The idea in question is that random stock buyers can outperform professionals with a simple buy-and-hold strategy. I especially like "Bayesian Regret"; it looks like somebody's dissertation title.
There's always this;
For example, there is the oft-told story about Larry Shepp, a famous mathematician at Rutgers University. Dr. Shepp, when told that a piece of work he thought was his discovery actually duplicated another mathematician's breakthrough, replied: "Yes, but when I discovered it, it stayed discovered."