When someone develops a new theory on computer science, specifically in artificial intelligence domain, which is barely on schetch (so there are no measurements, nor simulations, nor finished code or ready application) with just a mathematical and conceptual description, in which scientific journals people use to publish these theories/concepts?

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully none would accept such a work; you could try a workshop. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2012 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ A new theory on computer science, or a new theory in computer science? $\endgroup$
    – Jeffε
    Mar 4, 2012 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ so you are asking where to publish results that are not even wrong? $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2012 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ For the AI part of this, and for general academic feelings (not just those of the cstheory community) towards theory sketches consider asking on academia.SE $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2012 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty much any journal really. Work in theoretical computer science mainly involves mathematical and conceptual descriptions, and no measurements, simulations or finished code. Whether it has ready applications is not an issue. But it should be something that contributes to people's understanding, and it should be about problems that people think are worth understanding. $\endgroup$
    – Uday Reddy
    Mar 6, 2012 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


I can think of two cases where this (more or less) happened.

Valiant published his first paper on PAC learning in Communications of the ACM 27 (1984). Charlie Bennett got Stephen Wiesner's paper on quantum cryptography published in SIGACT News 15 (1983). I believe that at the time of publication, the editors had more latitude in accepting articles without extensive peer review than in the standard model of refereed journals.

In both cases, the idea turned out to be enormously valuable, and I am sure the prestige of Valiant and of Bennett helped the work get published. In both cases, the research was quite a bit better worked out than "barely a sketch", but it was still very sketchy, and not completely convincing to contemporary researchers.

If you are an unknown researcher, in order to get anybody to pay attention, you probably need to work out your ideas at least as well as they were worked out in these two cases, and even then I am not sure whether you could get sketchy ideas published without having the backing of a respected researcher (as Wiesner did).v

Ralph Merkle did not succeed in getting his sketchy ideas on what was to become public-key cryptography published until after Diffie, Hellman, Rivest, Shamir and Adelman had worked out the sketchy ideas in enough detail to convince everybody they were worthwhile. Fortunately, somebody put him in touch with Diffie and Hellman, who were clever enough to see the value of his ideas, talented enough to work them out in some detail, and honest enough to give him his fair share of the credit. See this article.

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    $\begingroup$ "...his fair share of the credit." Except for, you know, the Turing award. $\endgroup$
    – Jeffε
    Mar 4, 2012 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ Fair division of credit in PK crypto got too complicated since the disclosure that Merkle, DH and RSA where respectively preceded by Ellis, Williamson and Cocks. $\endgroup$
    – didest
    Mar 4, 2012 at 19:52

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