What I found on Wikipedia today

by John Q on February 24, 2008

In mathematics, the monster Lie algebra is an infinite dimensional generalized Kac-Moody algebra acted on by the monster group, that was used to prove the monstrous moonshine conjectures.

I reached this in six or seven steps from Political correctness. Like to guess my route? As a hint the first step is in the lead section.



Dh 02.24.08 at 6:21 am

Using only links in the lead, I managed to get from Political correctness –> Straw man –> informal fallacy –> mathematical logic, but I’m having trouble getting anywhere near group theory in the requisite number of steps, so I’m beginning to think it requires a mathematician who worked in both areas and links in the body of the article.


Jacob Rus 02.24.08 at 6:33 am

Political Correctness → Regnery → University of Chicago → Bertrand Russell might be a good start. That leaves you 3 more links to get from Russell to Monster Lie Algebra.


Will 02.24.08 at 6:34 am

I’m so terribly bored:
Straw man
quote mining
age of the earth
Hermann Weyl
Weyl character formula


Jacob Rus 02.24.08 at 6:37 am

At the other end we clearly want something which links to Monster Group → Monster Lie Algebra.


MichaelDee 02.24.08 at 6:47 am

identity group (Wikipedia Search), then links:
=> group (mathematics)
=> group theory
=> Monster group
=> monster Lie algebra
=> Lie groups
=> Kac-Moody algebra


aa 02.24.08 at 7:07 am

On the other hand the Lie Algebra gets its “monster” name from the group, and the group is finite. But fairly large, for something so shapely.


onymous 02.24.08 at 7:12 am

Political correctness -> pejorative -> redneck -> moonshine -> moonshine (disambiguation) -> monstrous moonshine -> monster group


John Quiggin 02.24.08 at 7:21 am

Very good, onymous, but my route started with “straw man”


Justin 02.24.08 at 7:30 am

Political correctness
Straw Man
Proof by Exhaustion
Classification of Finite Simple Groups
Group Theory (category)
Moonshine Theory (category)
Monster Lie Algebra

Any good?


andthenyoufall 02.24.08 at 7:34 am

Damnit, you beat me.

Although mine was:

Straw Man
Proof by exhaustion
Classification of finite simple groups
Monster Group
Monster Lie algebra

… once you’ve gotten to simple groups, though, there must be hundreds of ways to get to the destination.


Justin 02.24.08 at 7:36 am

Also, when I saw the first paragraph in my RSS reader, I assumed you were noting new wikipedia vandalism (since you’ve posted on the subject in the past. I note that your old find is now missing some images).


John Quiggin 02.24.08 at 7:59 am

Exactly right at #7 Justin, but the vandalism post was by John H.

Update: Actually, I should have said “very close”, #10 is a bit closer. But, as noted there, it’s PC-FSG that is the difficult bit.


thompsaj 02.24.08 at 9:36 am

I don’t believe you.


mds 02.24.08 at 3:44 pm

but the vandalism post was by John H.

Thinking that all Johns are the same is often due to a misunderstanding of the J-invariant… which is, of course, linked to from the Monster Lie Algebra page.


David Speyer 02.24.08 at 4:04 pm

Without looking at the others:

University of Chicago
Andre Weil
Theta Function
Modular Form
j Invariant
Moonshine Theory
Monster Group
Monster Lie Algebra

This should be able to be shortened a great deal; you are already in the right neighborhood with Weil, and once you get to modular forms you should be home free.


christian h. 02.24.08 at 4:39 pm

Please colleagues, not too many math jokes. People already think we are strange! Thanks.


JP Stormcrow 02.24.08 at 5:52 pm

Too late christian, too late.


Chris 02.24.08 at 7:47 pm

already posted this comment at the secret blogging seminar, but:
5 clicks:

0. Political correctness
1. University of Michigan
2. Fields Medal
3. Richard Borcherds
4. Monster group
5. Monster Lie algebra


Sherman Dorn 02.24.08 at 7:47 pm

The key link here is Ann Coulter:

This online forum in the Nashville Tennessean has the terms “monster lie” and “political correctness.” Never mind that “monster lie” in that context doesn’t refer to monster lie algebras. Oh, well, at least Ann Coulter is good for something.


mds 02.24.08 at 8:05 pm

Please colleagues, not too many math jokes.

Oh, you’re one to talk, christian h. Surely you wouldn’t expect this group to let sleeping dogs Lie. You’re not that simple.


christian h. 02.24.08 at 8:23 pm

Sorry guys, having a bad day. Too much Winter here in Chicago, the jokes are quasi-thin on the ground.


Justin 02.25.08 at 12:27 am

Man, my face is red–confusing Holbo and Quiggin. I swear I know the difference! I suppose your sensibilities just converged here.


sglover 02.25.08 at 4:57 am

WikiPedia’s rich links don’t help my already gnat-like attention span any….


asarwate 02.25.08 at 6:23 am

Christian is not simple, he’s semisimple — his ideals are more complex than ours, and the form of our comments is Killing him. It’s really exceptional.


jcamfield 02.25.08 at 7:23 pm

Obviously; we need an OracleofBacon.org tool, generalized to any start and endpoints in Wikipedia


Scott Morrison 02.28.08 at 2:21 am

Actually, I just wrote such a tool, allowing you to find chains between arbitrary endpoints. It requires that you download a rather large file, and then decompress it to an even bigger file, so everything can be done locally — don’t even bother if you don’t have 8GB going spare on your hard drive.

More information, and instructions, are over on a comment thread at the Secret Blogging Seminar.

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