Friday, August 28, 2009

A.Q. Khan's plagiarism

Before I get to the plagiarism issue, check out Pervez Hoodbhoy on "For the 64th Time: No More Nuclear War" - A Roundtable Discussion on Disarmament (Hoodboy's segment starts about 38 minutes in).

Now, I hate dealing with cases of plagiarism. Unfortunately it happens - and then we have to report students to their academic advisor and sometimes even to the relevant dean. But what to do when plagiarism involves a nuclear scientist? Not just any nuclear scientist - but a scientist who is either considered a hero or a pariah nuclear proliferator. Well...meet A.Q. Khan - considered by many as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb. Here is a letter from Pakistan's The News (tip from 3quarksdaily):
Monday, August 24, 2009
This is with reference to Dr A Q Khan’s column “Science of computers — part I” which appeared in your pages on Aug 19.

1. Dr Khan writes: “The computer is an essential part of 21st century life. Computer science is a fast-moving subject that gives rise to a range of interesting and often challenging problems. The implementation of today’s complex computer systems requires the skills of a knowledgeable and versatile computer scientist. Artificial intelligence — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing reference on computer system design. Distributed systems, networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing, presenting both technical and social challenges.”

Now compare this to the first paragraph of Undergraduate Prospectus 2009, University of Sussex(www.sussex.ac.uk/units/publications/ugrad2009/subjects/computing):

“Computing is an essential part of 21st-century life, and is an exceptionally fast-moving subject that gives rise to a range of interesting and challenging problems. The implementation of today’s complex computing systems, networks and multimedia systems requires the skills of knowledgeable and versatile computer scientists. Computer networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing and information technology, presenting both technical and social challenges. Artificial intelligence (AI) — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing influence on computer system design.”

2. Dr Khan writes: “How do we understand, reason, plan, cooperate, converse, read and communicate? What are the roles of language and logic? What is the structure of the brain? How does vision work? These are all questions as fundamental as the sub-atomic structure of matter. These are also questions where the science of computing plays an important role in our attempts to provide answers. The computer scientist can expect to come face-to-face with problems of great depth and complexity and, together with scientists, engineers and experts in other fields, may help to solve them. Computing is not just about the big questions; it is also about engineering-making things work. Computing is unique in offering both the challenge of science and the satisfaction of engineering.”

Now compare this to the first paragraph of Imperial College London website (www3.imperial.ac.uk/engineering/teaching/exploringengineering/computing): “How do we understand, reason, plan, cooperate, converse, read and communicate? What are the roles of language and logic? What is the structure of the brain? How does vision work? These are questions as fundamental, in their own way, as questions about the sub-atomic structure of matter. They are also questions where the science of computing plays an important role in our attempts to provide answers. The computer scientist can expect to come face-to-face with problems of great depth and complexity and, together with scientists, engineers and experts in other fields, may help to disentangle them. But computing is not just about the big questions it is also about engineering-making things work. Computing is unique in offering both the challenge of a science and the satisfaction of engineering.”

3. Furthermore, Dr Khan writes: “Computer science is an inter-disciplinary subject. It is firmly rooted in engineering and mathematics, with links to linguistics, psychology and other fields. Computer science is concerned with constructing hardware and software systems, digital electronics, compiler design, programming languages, operation systems, networks and graphics. Theoretical computer science addresses fundamental issues: the motion of computable function, proving the correctness of hardware and software and the theory of communicating system.

Again the University of Cambridge website (www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/compsci) contains the following text: (First paragraph) “Computer science is interdisciplinary. It is firmly rooted in engineering and mathematics, with links to linguistics, psychology and other fields. [...] (Second paragraph) Practical computer science is concerned with constructing hardware and software systems: digital electronics, compiler design, programming languages, operating systems, networks and graphics. Theoretical computer science addresses fundamental issues: the notion of computable function, proving the correctness of hardware and software, the theory of communicating systems.”

4. The second half of Dr Khan’s article (paragraph 7 onwards) can be found in ACM’s Computing Curricula 2009. Although he credits ACM but doesn’t clarify that he is directly copying sentences from a document. Also, in the beginning of his piece he does acknowledge one of his former colleagues, an Engineer Nasim Khan, for input for the article — however, it is not clear whether this input is the reason for the apparent plagiarism.

Fahad Rafique Dogar

PhD student, Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA, US
Wow! It is easy to draw a parallel between this case and Khan's acquisition of nuclear secrets from the Netherlands. But it would be an unfair comparison, as the nuclear issue has a complicated political dimension. The plagiarism case, on the other hand, reflects more on his ideals and his personality. If Hampshire gave grades, he would have received an F (and expelled after a second offense).

Good job Fahad!

25 comments:

Atif Khan said...

Wow... Thanks for bringing this up. Pakistani people are emotional and this indeed would help getting their emotions confined under the shell of rationality.

faran86 said...

what a shame!

zthaver said...

I'm beginning to wonder now if he plagiarized this bit too:

"The unprecedented rate of recent advances in biological knowledge has, in large part, been driven by the realisation that all organisms, whether microbe, fungus, plant or animal, share a common evolutionary origin."

The science of the 21st century
Random thoughts
By Dr A Q Khan
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=170133

Anonymous said...

and being a copy and paste nation, it is quite normal for us to copy from others, our religion is a bad copy of persio-greek arabic-jewish traditions, our politics are a very bad copy of English outdated service model, our economy is an exact copy of a nation who has no understanding of markets like village society, our leadership is still in the moghul era, our language is a prostitute of others ideas, and our media is exact copy of barbershop.....every aspect of ours is "copy" naqal........so in the field of science too we are top naqal maro..............copying others ideas and putting our own label is our national identity..........so i am not surprised.......i am upset cause many will not acknowledge or feel shame that our hero is not embroiled in some thing this childish, i during my research found out that our constitution is a plagiarized document from south African law firms who were hired by british to write legal forms for common wealth, Bhutto copied and pasted it and called it a constitution, imagine that! (people will little english knowledge should know the word prostitute means who presents themselves for use...its not a bad word but our minds are corrupted)

Anonymous said...

All crazy stuff...
If u guys do something gud forpakistan thn see his mistakes.theirisno need to point fingers at Dr.A.Q Khan

sohaib said...

first of all i ll advise my beloved people that they should start acting rationally. if some thing is wrong its wrong for every one...so stop defending which cant be defended..having said tht i think we should see our own deeds first...Wht Qadeer bhai did no one can replicate tht...so my fellow brothers do some thing constructive...write academic papers by your own self....dosron pe kichar mat uchalao...is tarah quaid e azam rahmatullah ko bhi nahi chor pao gey....badal do zamana yaroon:)...stop complaining start building...its yr country...its my country

Anonymous said...

A really interesting article, though what I find to be a bigger shame than the plagiarism case, is that people here just need a reason to complain! You mention a simple plagiarism case, and some guy shoots off about how EVERYTHING is a copy! He didn't even leave out islam and urdu! It truly is a sad state...

And btw, just to clarify, we're not the top at naqal-maro in science. You'd be surprised about the scientific accomplishments of Pakistanis in science on an international platform. (Go meet Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman and he'll tell you ALL about it...)

SO people, com out of your depression and look at the bright side!

Mustafa Hanif said...

Open the links stated in the article and try to find the text quoted ... it does not exist

Fahad Ali said...

i have checked all the reference links and could not find any of the Quote which is available here under that particular website. So, i think its conspiracy to diminish the Fame of our Hero ..... you ppl are requested to not accept all the bullshit available on internet. thank

bestfahadali@yahoo.com

Fahad Ali said...

i am not getting the information on reference links plz check it first.

Anonymous said...

Yes this is wrong and Dr A Q Khan should seek an apology or give explanation..However if Sana Bucha does the very same thing and steal a whole article from The economist, publish it under her name and Geo Netwrk doesnt take any action against her so why cant Dr A Q khan get away with stealing

Anonymous said...

None of the statement by AQ khan are associated with research, discovery and invention, therefore the concerns of plagarism will be useless. I wish Fahad Rafique Dogar have spend this time on some more constructive work. What AQK did for pakistan is some thing immpossible by many.

khalid said...

I read the day above article was published in thenews. at that time the links were working and after few days AQ khan himself gave some explanation.

if now the website links is not working then its not the fault of author who pointed out this,

aZ said...

Amazing to see sudden interest in this article. As for the old references, the actual pages have been taken offline but we can find their archived copies on archive.org

e.g. the sussex link was archived in 2010 and the content is available here: http://web.archive.org/web/20100428192021/http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/publications/ugrad2009/subjects/Computing

Anonymous said...

If u do some thing good for Pakistan dnt except any thing good from Pakistani's E.G: START FROM MR.JINNAH ,LIAQUAT ALI KHAN,FATIMA JINNAH ,AQ KHAN ,BHUTTO,IMRAN KHAN

Anonymous said...

@ Mr. Khan......It is wisely said/ tough around the world in the field of academic/research that...... prior to publishing an article please run a plagiarism test....

Asim Syed Mohammad said...

hmmm!!!

Anonymous said...

guys, please investigate first before making any judgement, the links that the writer provide are not working at all, this blog is only written to malign Dr. AQKhan for the plagiarism which the hypocrite writer says AQKhan has committed,
and even if he has copied he is not submitting a paper for approval of any organization , so whats the big deal in it??

Anonymous said...

Why is it not possible that the student at Sussex copied and plagiarized the article from AQ Khan?  Since Sussex article link does not work, it explains that the University took steps to remove a plagiarized article, however they should have explained why the link has been removed.  That said, since the University has not explained or proved their student's innocence, the burden of proof is now on you (Mr. Blogger) otherwise, it can be construed as slander on your part as now you are maligning a) country's national hero b) academic institution.  In this case, it appears you are biased toward a).

Fahad, with all due respect what kind of research are you doing with your Phd program?  Check facts prior to posting an op-Ed article as that is considered as part of what I call "writing 101".

Cheers,
An Independent Thinker

Anonymous said...

Links change over a period of time... Those saying "links do not work", need to do a better job...

- Sussex link as pointed out by aZ NOW exists as per his update. Others may also kindly check it out and comment, lest after another three years someone will complain that EVEN the supposed new links do not work!

- www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/compsci
is NOW available on...
http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/admissions/toolkit/courses/course.php?subject=compsci

It is funny that the first "links do not work" comment was posted EXACTLY three years after the original post. Why did it take AQK supporters take so long to wake up?

As already pointed out by me, please note that even the updated links may change / disappear in future. Perhaps Fahad Dogar should have saved screen prints... but then is that trouble worth the while to prove a point to the supporters of silly people who plagiarize from Undergrad Application Toolkits! Perhaps, it is, because it is these people who have the power to lynch you in the streets... or blow a nuclear bomb up your ar$e!

- owais.

Danish Shah said...

I believe a correction from the author should be in order. AQ Khan is not a 'nuclear' scientist. He's a metallurgist, there's a huge difference between the two. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Sir,
He might have done plagiarism... but for me he is a hero and he will remain one .... he gave us the atomic bomb and saved not only us but the Indians too from future wars... His one act of making the nation's defense invincible is enough to make him a hero...
So i will not argue on whether AQ khan did copy or not... but the one thing he surely did was serve this nation better than the person who is pointing at him right now..

Anonymous said...

Yes he did q really wonderful job. The only thing is that earlier pakistani army was looting the nation for doing this wonderful job and now they have to excuse for further looting to avoid re-steeling of this wonderful job to Talibans even though that they also work for the same army

Aziz from Wah said...

Zeesh we may disagree and dislike him due to his antics but respect is due for him despite his short comings.
His column starts like this... {This column is in response to such requests and is meant for the student community and not for experts and trained professionals in this field who definitely know much more than I do..... I am thankful to my old colleague, Eng Nasim Khan, for invaluable input for this column.} so that helper Nasim Khan may have done this as AQ Khan himself says his knowledge about AI is very limited.

Anonymous said...

Go throught this link
http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=193681&Cat=9&dt=8/19/2009

The sources of information are mentioned at the end.

Please dont be blinded my your prejudices.