Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A.Q. Khan Plagiarizing Op-Ed Pieces After Lifetime Of Stealing And Selling Nuclear Secrets

Well, then.

I don't have much to say in this post, except to thank reader Wasay for sending me a brilliant letter published in The News, and to especially thank a Mr. Fahad Rafique Dogar for writing it. Here it is, in its entirety.
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): [Note from Ahsan: the provided link is broken, this is the correct one]

"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 [sic] 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

Just a couple of quick points. Please email this post or the letter itself to everyone you know. The people who deify A.Q. Khan may never be convinced that the man is not a national "hero" or the father of anything other than his children, but it is important to show reasonable people that the man is a crook in every sense of the word. Moreover, he is an extremely stupid and lazy crook -- if you're going to cheat and steal other people's words, at least make it from less well-known resources than the front pages of major universities' departmental homepages.

Second, I really wish Rs.5 was big enough to have its own t-shirts and merchandise. I would promptly be sending some to Mr. Dogar if it were the case; sadly this shout-out will have to suffice as an expression of our gratitude.
____________________________________________________________________

For those interested, I had a short post a while ago on Dr. A.Q. Khan's brilliant personal website.

22 comments:

Pak-Fan said...

HEY you stop hating on NATIONAL hero ok????? He gave us NUCLEAR BUM so be grateful otherwise INDIA would have take over

Ahsan said...

Before some of our readers start losing their shit, let me assure you that the comment above is a joke. A funny one at that.

Annie said...

a joke followed by a justification....

I feel like my intelligence was just insulted...

(Disclaimer: This was also a joke, albeit a lame one)

SS Panzer said...

Wait till an objective and comprehensive account of Pakistan's nuclear history comes out. Old habits die hard. AQ Khan was a metallurgist who has been masquerading as a nuclear expert. As for his claims of being the father of the bomb, he was never incharge of the actual design, development and testing of nuclear weapons or the nuclear fuel cycle projects or the plutonium program in Pakistan. All these projects were initiated, developed and run by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) under a nuclear engineer and chairman 1972-1991, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan. The Kahuta enrichment project itself was initiated by PAEC in 1974 and then taken over by AQ Khan in 1976. PAEC was running over 20 labs and projects, with thousands of scientists and engineers working on different projects, who also manned KRL from the time of the enrichment project's inception. The projects developed by PAEC from 1972 onwards included uranium exploration, mining and refining, production of uranium and fluorine compounds needed to make uranium oxide,metal and uranium hexafluoride gas, which is the feedstock for all enrichment methods.Moreover, PAEC was also responsible for nuclear fuel fabrication, civil and military nuclear reactors and reprocessing projects in addition to the solid fuelled missile program. AQ Khan was therefore never the head of Pakistan's nuclear program but only one project,while all other projects were the responsibility of PAEC. That is why PAEC carried out all cold tests of different nuclear weapon designs beginning March 11, 1983 and also conducted the 1998 nuclear tests at Chaghi.

Hamza said...

'Pak-Fan' had me cracked up there. What's scary is that if this post was linked on pkpolitics.com, you'd find many reactions like that.

Still, I'm glad you posted this letter. Good job to Fahad Rafique Dogar for finding this.

Hamza said...

Just following up to my earlier post:

1. I found a great letter to the editor by Dr AQ Khan accusing an Indian academic of plagirism.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=191439

2. I was curious as to the reactions of more nationalistic Pakistanis to the plagiarism controversy. Interestingly enough, I found a discussion of the letter on the following forum. Sadly, the discussion on these forums gets diverted to the meaning of plagiarism, and the "thin line" between attribution and plagiarism...It makes for a good read though.

http://www.defence.pk/forums/world-affairs/32402-after-n-tangle-aq-plagiarism-row.html

Ahsan said...

Annie:

Haha fair enough. I only said it because (a) it's not implausible that one of our Pakistani readers actually meant something like that (trust me on this one) and (b) it's not implausible that some of our Indian readers didn't get that it was a joke (again, trust me on this one).

SS Panzer;

Thank you, that was quite informative. Though you'll never have to convince me that A.Q. Khan did fuck-all for the nuclear program.

Hamza:

Thanks for those links.

kiran said...

Why did this news paper ask an "enterprising" nuclear scientist asked to give "gyan" about computer science ? Me feels that this copy+paste was done by some lousy secretary and not even by the great Khan :)

faithfullyagnostic said...

Interesting. I reposted.

Annie said...

Never trust a guy when he says " trust me".. *scratches head*... I dont know if thats relevant here...

Heck, if nothing else, all in the name of adventure, I shall rest me case.

Khurram said...

The poor guy who started this controversy has no place to hide .. i really feel sorry for dogar ... may he find peace !

http://www.littleabout.com/news/31310,dr-a-q-khan-clarifies-computer-technology-statement.html

Salman Latif said...

Guess it's about time people started looking at their 'holy cows' through the lens of rationality.
It's ironic that such a post in a more publicized forum read by much more laymen would've incurred similar responses as the first on this post and of course in serious, rather violent tones. People simply don't want to let go of their rotten, out-dated perceptions.

Bilal M. said...

AQK's response includes the sentence "a university brochure is neither someone's personal intellectual property, nor does it require referencing"

That surely can't be right ... right?

Ahsan said...

Kiran:

The great Khan has been writing op-eds for The News for almost a year now. The question of why will have to be answered by the editorial staff there.

Khurram:

Haha that link is hilarious. I love the "but you didn't even see the second part!" defense. What a tool.

Salman Latif:

Rationality? Sir, this is Pakistan. Please mind your language.

Bilal M:

Right. Especially when you copy it wholesale.

Michael Collins said...

This is wonderful political commentary from the tone to the subject matter. There are too many fabricated icons around the world. The thought of the group of them attempting to solve any problem of importance is truly frightening.

I enjoyed this so much I posted it DemocraticUnderground.Com ( http://tinyurl.com/nchv8g ) one of the largest political blogs in the United States. It was rated up to the 'greatest' page.

Cheers

anoop said...

Does anyone in Pakistan realize this guy stole the blueprints of a nuke reactor from another country?

Ahsan said...

No, anoop, despite the title of this post explicitly saying the same, no one in Pakistan knows A.Q. Khan stole nuclear secrets. Why don't you enlighten us a little bit?

Anonymous said...

Yay anonymous commenting is back!!!!

Tazeen said...

Ahsan,

sarcasm is wasted on the likes of Anoop.

Fahad Rafique Dogar,

You are the man!

hinal said...

DEAR TAZEEN FRUITCAKE. WHERE IS AHSAN SAID SARCASM TO ANOOP? PLEASE IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH. THANKS.

Tahir said...

We need to separate the emotions from dis-illusioning them the facts. We need to learn to think from mind, not heart.

This guy (AQ khan) has earned much much more in terms of respect, popularity and money than the value he deserved for his professional services to Pakistan's nuclear program. There were/are thousands of other scientists, engineers (most of them unknown to media and us) who worked hard. Giving all the credit to this arrogant guy would be insulting and discrediting all who provided finances for the program, successfully kept it secret, kept it protected, worked on its development, countered all conspiracies and lastly the Pakistani nation who paid for it in terms of taxes.

Since very early AQ khan become known as head of nuclear program, he has become very used and found of cheap popularity. He would feel soffocated if he's denied access to all these flattering popularity, which was since his house arrest. He loves cutting ribbons in ceremonies, talking in interviews, and telling the myths of 'how he did it'. He doesn't cares if his own 'plans' (e.g. to arm Iran and NK with nuclear weapons for sake of earning something or 'making a alliance' against 'imperialist US') and business of proliferation (the network he was running) has already damaged (nobody now trusts Pakistan, even if it ever wanted to, to trade anything officially in field nuclear energy) and could have damaged un-imaginably the country's nuclear program (Can anybody tolerate an organization (e.g. KRL) whose head is running a undercover a nuclear trading network selling centrifuges to most unpopular countries in the world?) and the country's international reputation as a state capable of holding nuclear arsenal. As unlike many Pakistanis, for most civilized world, killing people is not a joke.

Pakistanis, please think with mind,, accept and believe what you see. Our country just passed by from a very big crises only because we were and we are still very important in war on terror. Had the case it happened in 1990's, we could and would have seen its consequences meaning very different to us.

Shahid said...

FARAG POST..''

This is just propaganda by Pro-indian thinking..

please stop posting on this post..

bye