[Cosmo-torun] Re: AA/2004/2055

Boud Roukema boud w astro.uni.torun.pl
Wto, 12 Paź 2004, 13:08:48 CEST

Dear Editors,

On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 aanda.paris at obspm.fr wrote:

> 29/09/2004
> Dr Boudewijn F. Roukema
> boud at astro.uni.torun.pl
> Our Ref. : AA/2004/2055
> Dear Boud,

>  We are sorry that we cannot consider your paper for publication in
> A&A, since it is based on the HealPix software, that has been

The second half of the above statement is false.

Our paper contains algebra regarding a system of pixelising the sphere
which is independent of any software implementation.  It is not based
on the HealPix software.  It is based on the cited paper: Gorski et
al. (1999a/b), which presents the outline of a pixelisation system but
not its full solution. The solution requires a small, but original and
highly necessary (given its non-availability to astronomers) amount of
algebra and elementary calculus.

Nevertheless, it is understandable that you are worried that the
derivation in our paper might be just an extract of the
non-free-software (see below) HEALPix software package. In principle,
some part of the solution in our paper probably is, in some indirect sense,
implicitly present in the HEALPix package. However, in the context in
which free software is receiving increasing support, even from governments
in Western Europe, it is unreasonable to expect astronomers to
search through non-free code in order to find the necessary algebra. Surely
it is more useful for them to see the algebraic derivation directly
as a solution to the only partially solved problem in Gorski et al. (1999a/b),
so that they neither have to rederive it algebraically, nor search through
non-free computer code.

A similar situation occurs when, say, an article A is submitted to A&A
which has content which solves an unsolved problem in an article B
cited in the bibliography, but it is well-known that the authors of
the cited article B are aware of the full solution to their problem;
and it is also known that many astronomers C communicate directly with
B, in private, but other astronomers D need to independently rederive
the solution if they do not wish to enter into a direct working
relationship with authors B.

Wouldn't it in this case be reasonable to send the article to an
independent referee, independent of all astronomers known to be close
colleagues of any of the authors A or B, while asking the referee to
judge whether or not the content is independent of the non-freely
distributed work of authors B?

Please note:

> developped by Gorski et al, and is still actively developped and
> improved, and is widely distributed on the web (now on the ESO web
> site), and is widely used. It is distributed freely, with all the

The Gorski et al software is *not* distributed under a free software
licence (see http://www.gnu.org).  It is formally correct that it is
distributed at zero cost, but it is *not* "free software"; it may not
be redistributed without the permission of its authors. This violates
software freedoms 2 and 3:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html (en)
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.fr.html  (fr)

All four software freedoms (0, 1, 2, 3) are part of the fundamental
basis of the GNU/Linux free software system.

> could have done this paper, and if they have not judged it worth
> while, you have just to convince them to do so, or at least
> collaborate with them to do so.  A paper like this, with them as
> co-authors, would not have this problem.  But apparently they judge
> that the publication on the web as it is now is sufficient,

Surely the authors of a non-free software package related to a cited
paper are not in a neutral position regarding algebra derived from
that cited paper; they may (either correctly or wrongly) believe that
any related work is necessarily unoriginal.

If a paper is submitted, which, for example, is stated to be based on
Bloggs et al. (1995n)
and it is suspected that the submitted paper contains similar content to
Bloggs et al. (1996d),
then is it reasonable to insist that the submitting authors collaborate
with Bloggs et al. (1996d), even if Bloggs et al. "could have done" the
submitted paper and "have not judged it worth while"?

Or would it not be more reasonable to send it to a referee independent
of both the submitting authors and Bloggs et al. ?

Finally, you might also want to note that Gorski et al. themselves
have implicitly *approved* the scientific value of publication of our

On 8 Sep 2004, we proposed co-authorship to the HEALPix software authors
(Krzysztof Gorski <Krzysztof.M.Gorski at jpl.nasa.gov>,
Eric Hivon <efh at ipac.caltech.edu>,
Frode Hansen <Frode.Hansen at roma2.infn.it>,
"Benjamin D. Wandelt" <bwandelt at uiuc.edu>)

(first message in http://cosmo.torun.pl/pipermail/cosmo-torun/2004-September/ )

and we pointed out that if we did not hear any response by 22 Sep, we
would presume that they were uninterested. We had a constructive
discussion with Frode, and he chose not to be a co-author, at least
pending possible future discussion.  The others did not reply directly, but
they replied one day before the 22 Sep deadline, by publishing a paper
similar to the one we had already sent them:


In this paper, BTW, in formulae (13) and (14), there is an
inspiration from our own notation in Sections 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of our
paper, but without citation.

Their derivation is clearly independent work from ours (while they
were clearly motivated and inspired by our work, they were clearly
capable of doing it independently); our work is clearly independent
from theirs. However, the fact of their publishing (electronically, at
least) in response to receiving our paper suggests that they consider
the content valuable to the scientific community and *not* present in
their non-free software package.

Their paper 0409513 is presented in ApJ referee format; would it be
reasonable that one independent derivation is published in ApJ but a
second independent derivation is *not* published in A&A?

Best regards

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