187

Although a bit old, there's the case of Luzin's Master's thesis: . . . he completed his thesis The integral and trigonometric series which he submitted in 1915. After his oral examination he was awarded a doctorate, despite having submitted his thesis for the Master's Degree. In fact, even for a Ph.D. thesis, Luzin's is one of the strongest ever written in ...


141

Donald Knuth: When Donald Ervin Knuth was a college student at Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s he showed such intelligence and talent that the faculty voted to award him a master’s degree in mathematics simultaneously with his bachelor’s degree. (Source) Knuth himself explained: At Case I put a lot of time into stuff ...


106

We depended on libraries and librarians. Grad students would spend hours in, say, the math section of a good academic library, going from book to book and taking copious notes (on paper, of course). But, often enough, the next paper we needed to look at wasn't in that library at all, so you would go to the librarian and ask for a loan of the resource from ...


100

There's an interesting discussion of this in the introduction to Titles are "serious stuff": a historical study of academic titles by Salager-Meyer and Alcaraz Ariza (link). One point they argue is that titles (as well as abstracts) increasingly need to be more informative given the growing production of papers, in order for readers to make quick decisions ...


95

Basically because schooling is the inverse of farming. That is: Historically farming and feeding the family (and community) took precedence over all other considerations. This is primarily a job that takes place through the spring, summer, and fall -- with little or no activity possible in the winter. Therefore in most cultures the original calendar year ...


89

The earliest reference known to Wikipedia (as shared by jakebeal) is from 1956, but I found a few that were earlier. First, perhaps a hint as to how this usage evolved, here's a mildly sarcastic 1919 reference about universities that have abandoned the ways of the Ivory Tower to offer such "practical" courses as plumbing and basket weaving (which presumably ...


87

First, it is important to deploy your scientific skepticism in assessing this claim. The source, after all, is the American Enterprise Institute, which is a political "think tank" that is explicitly dedicated to pushing a particular point of view. Other key elements of its scientific record including taking tobacco company money to produce pro-smoking ...


82

Besides all the factors that the other answer already lists, the elephant in the room is that KAUST has explicitly been designed to be a world-class university (rather than organically growing into one, as was the case with your other examples). In short, it is not so much more expensive nowadays to found just any university - in fact new universities get ...


79

The famous Polish mathematician, Stefan Banach, famously received his PhD in 1920 without having had a college degree. In fact, its a pretty famous story, he did not want to get any sort of degree as he claimed he can still come up with ideas that are better and more deserving of a degree. He was actually tricked into defending a PhD thesis as he was asked ...


65

In 1961, one could easily get a good job paying a reasonable salary with the possibility of continued promotions without going to college. This is much less true in 2003, so many people are going to college not out of interest but as a default choice. Hence, while the population going to college in 1961 did so because they were interested in academics, ...


55

I think there is no academic issue here. The problem with Vahlen, as you may have guessed by the title, is that he was about as much of a Nazi as a person could be. He was in the SA, the SS, accused brilliant Jews of plagiarizing Aryans, helped the Third Reich expunge Jews from the scientific community, etc. He even supported the Nazi party before its ...


54

My impression is that the likelihood of this is proportional to how theoretical the field that you have in mind is. In math or theoretical physics, it's at least imaginable for an outsider to produce an important new discovery. In High Energy Physics the idea alone seems outlandish. That said, even in math the ratio of cranks (deluded amateurs who are ...


50

The march, and even more so the violence, were strongly condemned by UVA. Here are some statements from the President of the university to that effect. The mayor of Charlottesville condemned the march in even stronger terms, calling it “a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.” Note that the protestors came from out of town; they chose ...


50

One point that the other answers have passed over is that there were various services the libraries subscribed to which surveyed the literature and provided abstracts and cross indexing of the primary journals. Science Citation Index was mentioned in a comment, but there was also Science Abstracts, which had been published since 1898. These were hefty print ...


46

There are many factors! In the past there was much less demand for highly educated people, as there were many more jobs that were mostly manual labour. Technology is largely to blame for this, as computers and machines take over what we had to do with our heads and hands. People were more likely to work in one job for their whole life, so there was less ...


46

As much as I'd like to leave this as a comment, I just can't. So here's a semi-rant but very informative piece of an American student's experience, and why we don't spend as much time studying as we may have 20-30 years ago. As a full-time student with parents who have fallen into essentially infinite debt due to tax and bankruptcy laws, I have zero ...


42

The Elsevier boycott seems to be the largest one of its kind. I understand the argument to be: A boycott is easier to maintain against a single publisher than against several publishers at once, since it limits the cost to the participants while, if anything, making the boycott more painful to the publisher. There's a short list of likely candidates for a ...


41

I just don't think HBCUs are all that unusual in terms of having a student body that's not a random demographic sample of the United States. Brandeis has a higher than average percentage of Jewish students, Cardiff has a higher than average percentage of Welsh students, and Duke has a higher percentage of southern students. Students pick schools in part by ...


41

For the why part: One reason is to make registration at the conference as smooth as possible. Imagine the first morning of a conference and all the attendees at the registration desk lining up and for each and every participant the guy at the desk hands over the program, the book of abstracts, the badge, the ticket for the conference dinner, the ticket for ...


39

I can go back to 1989, when I enrolled at the university (engineering). The first two years were mostly devoted to mathematics, physics, chemistry and circuit theory. No overheads were employed in those courses, just plain old blackboard. There was just a course on Fortran and Pascal where the professor probably employed overheads, but I skipped all the ...


36

The number of tenured/tenure track faculty positions in the US has been on the decline in recent years, partly because of a substantial increase in the amount of teaching done by contingent faculty (adjuncts, full time instructors who aren't on a tenure track, and graduate student TA's.) The number of PhD graduates in mathematics has been fairly steady at ...


35

I have no evidence for this, but I'd guess that a significant factor is that at one time, people used to subscribe to particular journals and read, or at least skim, every article in every issue. So the title of your article wasn't necessarily a big factor in whether people read it or not. Now that the volume of published research is much larger, and ...


33

In the United States, institutions that have such a rule do so primarily because of the requirement of satisfactory academic progress, or SAP, that is imposed by some, perhaps many, forms of financial aid. "Progress" means accruing the credit hours necessary to earn one's degree, and students who repeat courses for which they've already earned a ...


33

No. He was an LL D of Trinity College, granted 1765; and a DCL of Oxford, granted 1775. See https://www.britannica.com/biography/Samuel-Johnson Note: DCL= Doctor of Civil Law. LL.D.= Doctor of Laws, that is of both the Civil and the Canon Law.


32

Not quite the same, but George Dantzig famously solved two previously unsolved problems in statistical theory as a graduate student, after showing up late for class and mistaking them for homework assignments. When he decided to start his PhD, his professor told him to "wrap the two problems in a binder, and I'll accept them as your thesis."


31

I studied for my bachelor's degree in mathematics from 1967 to 1970. The main form of instruction was the lecturer writing on blackboards and the students desperately trying to take the proofs down in our notebooks.


31

Anecdotally, a significant proportion of journals on post-Soviet space in 90s were quite happy to publish literally anything as long as author covers the "publication costs". The peer-review was either very light or non-existent (e.g. authors could invite their friends to act as a referee). This was used by some high-rank officials to secure the publications ...


31

(Comment extended to post:) My impression is that part of the answer is "they didn't", or more precisely "they were only as good at it as their own knowledge and that of their communities". In particular, at least anecdotally, many things in mathematics were discovered in parallel for lack of easy communication and inter-visibility. [This is complementary ...


30

There is nothing that prevents you from doing so. It's just very hard for a couple of reasons: Without working at an academic institution (or something similar), you lack the environment to exchange and work on ideas with peers. Similarly, you need to discuss recently published results with peers to develop timely and relevant research directions. Every ...


29

White supremacists marching at the University of Virginia – does this reflect the university’s attitude? No, absolutely not. Here's the President of UVA's statement from before the earlier rally (there were two) as published on the university's official website: University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan on Tuesday issued the following message ...


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