4128 A Universal Identifier for Computational Results

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 3:30 PM
159AB (Washington Convention Center )
David Donoho , Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Matan Gavish , Stanford University, Stanford, CA
We propose that scientific publications recognize the primacy of
computational results ‑‑  figures,tables, and charts ‑‑ and
follow a  protocol we have developed which asks publishers for subtle,
easy changes in article appearance,
 asks authors for simple easy changes in a few lines of code in their
programs and word processors, and
yet has very far‑reaching and we think lasting consequences.

The effect of these small changes will be the following.
Each author would permanently register each computational result
in a published article (figure, table, computed number in in‑line text)
with a unique universal result identifier (URI). Each figure or table
appearing in a published article  would have its URI clearly indicated
next to that item: a string that permanently and uniquely identifies
that computational result.
In our proposal, an archive, run by the publisher under the standard
client/server architecture described here, will respond to queries
about the URI and provide: (a) the figure/table itself; (b) metadata
about the figure's creation; © (with permissions) data from the
figure/table itself; (d) (with permissions) a related figure/table,
obtained by changing the underlying parameters that created the
original figure, but keeping everything else about the figure's
creation the same.

To better evoke the whole package we propose ‑‑ which consists of
URI's, of specific content associated to URI's, and specific server
processes that record and serve up content, we call the whole package
‑‑ a URI, its associated content and server behaviors ‑‑ a Verifable
Computational Result (VCR).

Our talk will describe an existing implementation of this idea and the
advantages to journals, scientists, and government agencies of this approach.