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Friday, October 11, 2013

Fields Medalists Beware...


Fields Medalists turned slackers??? No not really, but interestingly, a Harvard/Notre Dame study claims that for "...recipients of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics, winning big actually kills productivity. Mathematicians who win it publish far less in the years afterwards than similarly brilliant 'contenders.' " In fact, according to the below article, "the drop off [in productivity] is pretty massive":

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-winning-awards-changes-people-2013-9

Further, they conclude:
"Though they publish less, winners also take more risks in the future. They've already reached the pinnacle of their fields, so they feel free to pursue moonshots, new areas of mathematics that they think are fascinating or vital." 
In short, the winners increase their "cognitive mobility" or tendency to move out of their core specialization.

And the piece ends with this two-edged sword:

"It's important to reward achievement, but it may also have the unintended side effect of creating complacency. 
"At the same time, there's something to be said for giving top performers the opportunity and safety net required to do really innovative work, even if it's less certain and takes longer."
Check out the full summary article from Business Insider, or see the original study it is based upon here:

http://www3.nd.edu/~tjohns20/RePEc/deendus/wpaper/022_Fields.pdf


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