Price Is More than the Dollar Cost

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It was only a few years ago that an article in Nature noted that a professor had released a proof for the abc conjecture. The proof had long been in demand, with work on the subject dating back for decades.

Normally when non-mathematicians discuss complex mathematical proofs, it means something unexpected has happened. Either an important proof has been accepted or rejected by the mathematics community. Frankly, neither possibility would warrant writing about on this blog. His proof remains in a sort of limbo due to a market failure. Despite the importance of the work, it has neither been disproved nor accepted.

proof on a chalkboard
Image courtesy of Alegri, Romania

The problem? The cost to review his work is far too high. It's not that the professor charged too much money; his work was available for free. But dollars are only one form of measuring cost. Two others are time and energy. The proof was no simple one or two-page document. It required evaluators to read 500 pages and to learn a complicated new mathematical framework.

Though the professor "criticized the rest of the community for not studying his work in detail," the true responsibility to sell his ideas remains with him alone. Correct pricing is essential to the distribution of any work - and involves much more than simply a number with a dollar sign. Fortunately, the price of learning software pricing is significantly lower. No complex mathematical frameworks or huge reading passages are required!