Monday, December 1, 2014

The Shallit Affair: Defeated at Waterloo

Filed under "responses so juvenile that only very learned men will attempt them":

Why, I'll decide which ideas get heard!
     I arrived at the university [Waterloo] to give my talk on 2013 November 28. I had never met Shallit, but I recognized him from the picture beside his blog. Just before starting my talk, I said “I'm surprised to see you here.”, to which he replied “I could use a laugh.”. I got no further than halfway down my first slide, having made one definition, when Shallit spoke up. He said that I had already gone wrong, and that there's no point in continuing. I replied that I am just starting to present the standard incomputability argument, and I haven't yet begun to talk about the problems with it. Shallit said that my version of the Halting Problem is nonstandard and faulty, and repeated that there's no point in continuing. I tried to continue, but Shallit would not allow me to. Other members of the audience joined the fight, all arguing against Shallit, saying that he should let me continue, and save his objections to the end. After that shaky start, having lost valuable time, I completed most of my talk and asked for questions. Shallit left.
     On 2013 December 3, Shallit sent me an email saying that he had figured out where I went wrong, and how to set me straight.
  - Eric Hehner, "The Shallit Affair"
Dr. Shallit was hoping to give new meaning to "Halting Problem," it seems.  

No comments:

Post a Comment